Creating a Legal Training Framework that Will Breed Diversity

Neil Rose, Creating a Legal Training Framework that Will Breed Diversity, guardian.co.uk, Nov. 30, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/nov/30/legal-training-framework-diversity.

What training should a lawyer have, and how many people should be allowed to embark on it? The Legal Services Board chairman David Edmonds said recently that he constantly heard from both educationalists and practitioners that the current framework is “simply not fit for purpose”. Whether this is actually the case will be the subject of the biggest review of legal education in 40 years, conducted jointly by the regulators of solicitors, barristers and legal executives.

A key wider issue is diversity; research recently found that lawyers areseven times as likely to have gone to private school when compared to the general population, the only surprise being that this figure was so low. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is already looking at more flexible pathways to qualification that open up opportunities to the widest pool of talent, while universities minister David Willetts, who has taken on responsibility for Alan Milburn’s report on access to the professions, is said to be interested in non-graduate routes.

So what could some of the solutions be? Edmonds floated cutting the length of academic study as a way to reduce debt, as well as developing an accountancy-style training model of day-release for study while in employment (surprisingly he made no explicit reference to the legal executive route to qualification, which already provides a way to qualify as a lawyer without a degree by studying while working, and offers LPC graduates fast-track qualification).

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