Law students have lambasted new plans by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that will enable students to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in two stages.
Would-be lawyers have labelled the move, which will allow them to study stage two of the LPC at the same time as doing their training contracts as dangerous.
President of Birmingham University law society Chris Snell claimed the initiative would be sure to create a two-tier system.
I think it is aimed more at students who want to work in high street firms rather than the City, said Snell.
He argued that the changes had some major pitfalls – especially when it came to on-the-job training.
If youre learning while you work there might be more of a chance you could make a mistake – especially if you havent finished learning a specific piece of theory, claimed Snell.
Dean of BPP Law School Peter Crisp, which is only offering the new-look LPC part-time, said students would be better off with a sound bedrock of knowledge before they start their training contracts.
Students should be able to hit the ground running as soon as they start their training contract, said Crisp.
The College of Law, the biggest LPC provider in the country is yet to make a final decision on whether to split its course but chief executive Nigel Savage described the changes as potty and claimed they will damage the integrity of the course.
Some students, however, have backed the changes. Andrew Bonsall, president of the University of Leeds law society, said: Its a great idea because it makes the LPC more vocational and gives people more choice – which is always a good thing.
Under the new initiative the first stage of the LPC will cover the core practice areas, course skills and professional responsibilities and conduct. During the second stage students will need to complete three vocational electives.
Trainees who start a training contract after stage one of the LPC can study for their electives entirely in their own time (evening, weekends and/or by distance learning) or be given time off by their employers to study.
Exeter law student Samir Pasha also welcomed the changes but the aspiring barrister does not favour a similar change to the Bar Vocational Course (BVC).
He said: I think it is great for people wanting to be solicitors but I dont think it would be good for the BVC student. Why change something that has been working extremely well for hundreds of years.