If you’re at court, you would expect the lawyers to be fully conversant and confidently expressing themselves, much as you see in the many American TV shows dedicated to courtroom drama.

A report published in 2008 showed that trainee barristers didn’t think much of their fellow students linguistic abilities, however.
The Bar Standards Board is now introducing a test that aims to get prospective barristers to prove their fluency in English, the Financial Times reports.

The [2008] report highlighted deficiencies among both native and non-native speakers, including an “inability to speak fluently, with close attention to grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and an inability to write clear, correct and well-structured English prose”.

The diagnosis is a far cry from the renowned articulacy of legendary advocates such as the fictional Rumpole or the real-life Sir Edward Marshall Hall, whose persuasiveness helped win acquittals for defendants in a series of sensational murder cases during the late Victorian and Edwardian era.

Instead, the islands of inarticulacy among trainee barristers now seem to have grown so large that, as one person put it to the profession’s own investigators: “The problem is not the course, nor the staff, but the students.” (Source: Financial Times)

This is definitely one of the professions where excellent linguistic abilities are needed, so hopefully these measures will help safeguard the profession and the system.