41% of would-be barristers fail King's Inns course


THE FAILURE rate for those seeking to qualify as barristers in the King’s Inns is over 40 per cent, The Irish Timeshas learned.

Those who passed the BL degree, taken after a one-year full-time course or a two-year modular course, will be called to the Bar next week, and 118 were listed on the King’s Inns website as having passed the examination. The full list for conferring next week is 125, according to the King’s Inns, which includes seven who repeated one or more subjects.

The figure for the total number who sat the exam was not available, but according to a student who counted them during an exam that required candidates be paired, the total number sitting the exam was 212. This gives a failure rate of over 41 per cent.

There were 125 full-time students last year, 69 modular students sat the exam and the remainder were repeat students.

It costs €12,560 to do the BL course. There is also a €600 fee for the entrance exam for those with a law degree from a recognised institution. Those without a law degree must do the King’s Inns diploma in legal studies, which costs €10,050.

Camilla McAleese, under-treasurer in the King’s Inns, acknowledged there was a high failure rate, though she expressed surprise that it was as high as over 40 per cent. “I don’t think it’s up on last year,” she said.

“It’s a very tough course,” she said. “We are sending these people out as qualified professionals. They do have to work very hard. There are multiple choice questions in criminal and civil law and you must get more than 50 per cent to pass. If you get 49 per cent you fail. There is no appeal.”

There are appeals, however, of the results in other subjects with written answers, where students may, on payment of €120, appear before an Education Appeals Board made up of a judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court judge and two barristers. According to student sources, no appeal was successful this year.

The failure rate for the Law Society, where study is interspersed with periods in a solicitor’s office and the exams are spread out over two years, ranges from 4 to 15 per cent for the Professional Practising Certificate 1 exam and from 4 to 20 per cent for the final PPC2 exam, according to a spokesman.