Thursday 19 July 2012 by Jonathan Rayner
The threats and challenges faced by lawyers can be blamed on the 'egregious failure of a frumpy profession' to reform itself in line with the rapidly changing legal landscape, a Canadian law professor told the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) Symposium in Manchester last week.
The symposium was meeting ahead of a LETR discussion paper to be published in September and the issuing of final recommendations in December for 'the most fundamental review of legal education and training for a generation'.
The University of British Columbia's Wesley Pue said that when the LETR has made its recommendations for change, the legal community should stop demanding a 'Rolls Royce education when Tata Motors would often suffice'.
James Atkin, head of legal risk and compliance at Co-operative Legal Services, told a breakout session on new business structures that the present system of education and training was producing too many over-qualified graduates. They were unlikely to find an adequately remunerated position to pay back debts accumulated while becoming overly qualified in the first place, he said.
Magic circle firm Allen & Overy diversity manager Jane Masey was also critical of the present system, saying less privileged candidates without family contacts find it difficult to get work experience.
The LETR is sponsored by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards.
LETR research team leader and Warwick University professor of legal education Julian Webb said: 'By bringing together regulators, practitioners, students and educators for two days of focused, facilitated discussion, the LETR Symposium has made a major contribution.'