In the Media

Law Society responds to training review

PUBLISHED May 30, 2012

Thursday 31 May 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Bottlenecks in the legal training system are inevitable so long as there are more aspiring entrants to the profession than the market can employ, the Law Society points out in its first formal response to the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR).

The response is broadly in favour of the current degree, legal practice course, training contract approach, as providing the 'basic knowledge required of rounded lawyers'.

In a critique of calls for 'activity-based authorisation' it warns that there are no entirely discrete areas of law: 'The intellectual framework of the law is, itself, an important concept that any professional lawyer needs to understand.'

It also argues that 'the qualification requirements for use of the title "solicitor" or "barrister" should be sufficient to ensure that an individual is qualified, to entry level and, subject to supervision and the rules governing competency, to undertake the full range of legal work permitted by their regulator'.

The education and training review is being jointly undertaken by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards. It is due to complete its research phase this year.

The Society says that work-based learning, including in some cases the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives route, is the best way to become 'socialised into the profession's norms', but that regulators should play a bigger role.

On encouraging greater social mobility, the Society says that alternative business structure firms may offer 'more diverse ways of providing training contracts', which it 'would encourage'.

In the meantime, it blames obstacles to entering the profession on 'failures in the education system to equip students to meet the standards required by firms'. It also says that continuing professional development (CPD) requires reform.

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