Recruitment for new barristers' vocational courses beginning later this year has been buoyant, in sharp contrast to training courses for solicitors, many of which are struggling to fill places.
The Inns of Court School of Law has lost its monopoly in providing the one-year vocational bar course and institutions outside London will be offering the course for the first time this year.
Coaxing bar students out of the capital is expected to gradually reduce the elitism of the profession. Peter Jones, chief executive of Nottingham Trent University's law school, said the question of how many students would want to study for the bar in the provinces was now clearly answered.
"We are delighted at receiving 600 applications for 120 places here, and the quality of our applicants is good," he said.
"Students will be coming from all over the country but it remains to be seen how many will head for London once they have completed the course."
Professor Jones said the national market for the solicitors' legal practice course had contracted by 35 per cent over the last three years, however.
"The heady days of the late 1980s, when firms were recruiting heavily for solicitors, are now over. Some courses are now only half full," he said.