Tuesday 25 June 2013 by Michael Cross
Potential entrants to the legal profession must be given more and better information before embarking on costly programmes of study, the Law Society said in response to the report of the Legal Education and Training Review.
Chief executive Desmond Hudson (pictured) said there is an oversupply of graduates looking for careers in the law but who lack specific skills required by firms and are not sufficiently briefed about the realities of securing a job.
He said most of the report's recommendations are commendable and deserve the support of the profession. However 'a number of strategic themes deserve further debate and consideration,' he said.
'Educational establishments which are privileged to deliver qualifying law degrees are leaving quality assurance to the profession. The feedback we are getting from law firms shows that graduates are lacking the skills expected of them when they commence employment.'
He said the Society shared the report's concerns about the need to avoid the profession becoming more socially exclusive.
'Changes in society and in particular the costs of third-level education mean that it is ever more important that the profession reflects the society from which it is drawn and serves, whilst at the same time ensuring the maintenance of high standards. Additional pathways to qualification need not pose a risk to standards,' he said.
However he warned of the regulatory cost implications of a multiplication of pathways. Overall, Hudson called for 'an effective consultation by the regulators with the profession'.
He said the Society would maintain its engagement with the SRA and other stakeholders as recommendations are developed into regulatory proposals.
'We are anxious to ensuring that the practitioner perspective is central to the implementation of the recommendations. We will be consulting with the profession at every stage of the process.'
However he cautioned that, at a time of unprecedented change in the profession, 'regulators must understand that the pace at which reform of legal education and training can be accommodated by the profession is restricted'.