After more than four years of consultation on the Training Framework Review (TFR), the Law Society has finally unveiled its latest proposals in its controversial review of legal education and training.

Had the Law Society got its way, the route to qualifying as a solicitor would have become potentially unrecognisable. But after a barrage of criticism from the profession and legal education providers, the Law Society appears to be coming to its senses and on 21 October it announced significantly watered down proposals.

Under new plans, students would be required to complete the LPC, but could be given exemptions from part of the course based on prior qualifications.
Education providers, law firms and even members of the TFR Group have described the move as a U-turn. The Law Society, however, denies that it has reneged on the its radical plans to make the LPC non-compulsory.

But whether you call it a U-turn or not, the latest plans are radically different to what was originally proposed. The new plans also include compulsory, centrally set assessments to cover financial and business skills, which are currently covered on the LPC, as well as professional conduct.

The third and final part of the latest Law Society proposals deals with the assessment of trainees during the training contract stage. Trainees are likely to be asked to produce online portfolios of the work they have carried out. Although any attempt to measure a trainee’s progress during their training contract makes sense, this would undoubtedly add to firms’, and indeed the Law Society’s, cost burden. What’s more, it’s also likely to raise issues such as client confidentiality.

The watered down proposals appear to be much more palatable and seem a sensible step forward. It’s now crucial for the law Society to win buy-in from the various stakeholders. But what do you think of the revised plans? We’d be interested to hear from those of you closest to the action on whether you believe legal education and training should be structured.