14:44, April 16 86 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-16 14:44:27
Trainee barristers told they will be marked down for wearing short skirts

Trainee barristers are being told they will be docked points in their exams if they wear short skirts, colourful socks or “kinky boots”.

A handbook at the BPP university law school warns students that they may lose points if they do not adopt an extremely conservative dress code in their advocacy assessments.

The highly prescriptive document, obtained by the online website Legal Cheek, provides a detailed list of clothing errors for which aspiring lawyers will have their scores reduced.

Those preparing for the bar professional training course (BPTC) are told that women should not wear short skirts and must have “nothing [showing] above the knee”. Breaching that rule will lose the applicant two points.

Men are to be penalised for having their jackets undone. “Ideally men’s jackets should be double-breasted or three-piece,” the handbook says. Socks should be dark and plain.

Turning to women’s dress, the guide says that they should not sport “kinky boots”. Boots for women are OK, it states, “but they should avoid stiletto heels, buckles, straps etc”.

Other points of presentation can lead to points being deducted, including swigging from water bottles, putting your hands in your pockets while addressing the judge or allowing a mobile phone to ring in the middle of a legal exercise – an offence that will cost three points.

Students on the vocational course must complete two witness-handling exercises, one in examination-in-chief and the other in cross-examination.

BPP University Law School was established in 1992. It is based in Holborn, central London, near the main Inns of Court.

BPP did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. A spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph that the list was “indicative guidance only to the sort of dress and behaviour which could adversely affect the advocate in court, and could, therefore, be penalised in a BPP assessment”.

He added: “Our students dress conservatively and smartly for their advocacy classes and indeed for the assessment, and this is good preparation for practice.

“It is exceptionally rare that any student is ever penalised in an assessment for any of the infringements listed. The list has not been revised for a long time, and will be reconsidered before the next publication.”

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