A revolution in legal education

Rarely has legal education been so exercised and rarely has the Law Society acted so promptly.

Consultation on the Training Framework Review (TFR) has been running for almost four years, but when the review group finally submitted its proposals, most interested parties were given virtually no time to comment on its radical direction.

Most commentary has concentrated on the groups decision to dispense with the requirement to undertake any vocational training before embarking on the work-based (training contract) stage. This is understandable, given that it is this proposal removing the need to do a law degree or equivalent conversion course that is perceived to pose the most serious threat to the standard of those entering the legal profession.

Education providers, law firms and even members of the TFR Group are angry that such a fundamental new direction was introduced with virtually no consultation. That most are vehemently opposed to the idea, viewing it as a retrograde step seeing as the last 20 years have been spent improving the level of vocational training, has certainly not helped.

Your potential employers the UKs top 100 firms and their international equivalents are also a little indignant about another of the TFRs proposals: the introduction of an additional layer of external assessment upon conclusion of the training contract or its equivalent. This would undoubtedly add to firms and the Law Societys cost burden. Firms would have additional administrative burdens in managing trainees preparation for assessment and would presumably bear the expense of paying for the external assessors; the Law Society in turn would be responsible for assessing the assessors.

To further anger the Citys top firms, it is also being proposed that firms trainee supervisors should undergo Law Society assessments.

Quite simply, the TFR has not been well received, which is a shame given its laudable aims to introduce flexibility into the qualification process, reduce students expenses, improve the quality of lawyers and promote access for overseas and domestic students. But what do you think of its conclusions? Id be very interested to hear how those of you closest to the action believe your legal education and training should be structured so do please get in touch.