The response stated that aligning recruitment with the student position portal would improve a “fragmented, difficult to navigate and stressful system, in which we believe candidates without social capital are likely to be disadvantaged.” Requiring chambers to enter into written agreements with students can help counter “shocking” cases of abuse, the lawyers` counsel said. Commenting on the reforms, Ewen MacLeod, Director of Strategy and Policy at BSB, said: “The introduction of a single timetable will make student recruitment fairer and more consistent, while written agreements with students will improve students` and chambers` understanding of their obligations. The decision to introduce these measures reaffirms BSB`s commitment to making lawyer training more accessible, affordable and flexible, while maintaining high standards. We are committed to working closely with the profession and the Council of the Order to implement these reforms. A related change will require chambers and other training providers to align their student recruitment schedules on the Warding Portal – effective November 1, 2020. The BSB already requires all students to be advertised on the ward bridge, which is operated by the Bar Association. Student offers must also be made in writing and signed by the educational institution and successful applicants. However, the Committee stressed that a written agreement does not replace an effective enforcement action by the BSB. According to the Lawyers` Council, written agreements can “focus the reflections of AETOs on their responsibility towards students”. However, they would not replace the effective enforcement measures taken by the BSB. “Our experience with the student helpline and other things is that it is naturally difficult to convince a student to file a formal complaint about their treatment with the BSB, and we cannot see that a written agreement would make them less hesitant.” The agreement must specify what measures will be taken if the student does not achieve the BSB competencies as set out in the professional statement of the regulatory authority. The training provider must also specify the minimum amount to be paid each month. “There is a risk that some students will not offer students in 2019-2020 when they are faced with changes that they feel they have not had time to prepare for.
Students must provide “clear proof” that they have successfully completed their academic and vocational training, are members of a hostel, may have obtained an immigrant visa, and have registered their student body. “Some cases of student behavior are truly shocking and indicate a complete failure of AETO to appreciate the nature of the student body and their responsibility to their students. The committee was also concerned that overburdening AETO with regulatory requirements “could cause some, particularly in the state-funded bar, to stop offering to the student body, with all the implications for equality and diversity that this would entail.” Overall, however, she supported the proposal “because the contractual effect of a written agreement can focus AETOs` thinking on their responsibilities to students and help provide students with clarity about their expectations.” For all students on or after May 1, 2020, written agreements must be used and adherence to the gateway schedule will be required as of November 1, 2020, two prerequisites for BSB approval to provide a student location or on-the-job learning. Ewen MacLeod, Director of Strategy and Policy at BSB, said: “The introduction of a unified calendar will make student recruitment fairer and more consistent, while written agreements with students will improve students` and chambers` understanding of their obligations.” Education providers are allowed to draft student agreements themselves, provided they respect the “results” of the BOARD.