Law Society to finalise qualification overhaul

THE LAW Society has just finished the first round of its consultation following the controversial Training Framework Review (TFR), which sparked a total overhaul of the solicitors’ qualification process.

Jonathan Spencer, chairman of the Education and Training Committee of the Law Society’s Regulation Board, explained: “We have had more than 70 replies to the proposals, from individuals to law schools to the Trainee Solicitors’ Group and the Black Solicitors’ Network. The next stage is for us to digest these responses.

“The TFR was intended to introduce greater flexibility to the qualification and to make the profession accessible to a wider range of people.

At its outset in 2001 the Law Society said the TFR would make the Legal Practice Course (LPC) non-compulsory, but in October 2005 it changed its mind.

In May this year the regulation board published a document fleshing out earlier proposals. The document said that students would still have to complete the LPC, but for the first time would be able to apply for exemptions from parts of the course if they already have equivalent qualifications.

However, the board has not yet made clear who those exemptions will apply to.

Controversially, in July the board then proposed increasing the number of skills assessments from 6 to 20 in an to attempt to remedy the problem of trainees entering firms with sub-standard writing skills.

The idea was savaged by the Association of LPC Providers, which slammed it for failing to address the problem of poor writing skills, lowering the standard of teaching and threatening to increase the cost of the LPC by as much as 1,000 per student.

The Law Society will start authorising the new-style course next year [2007]. The ‘LPC2’, as the post-TFR course has been dubbed, will begin in 2008.