The Law Society Council has given the green light to a plan that could spell the end of the two-year training contract period for trainee solicitors.
At its quarterly meeting on 13 May, the council approved a draft statement on the long-running training framework review, which aims to bring flexibility into the qualification process by moving to an outcomes-based approach.
One of the recommendations that the council passed was to explore new and innovative routes to qualification, encompassing changes to higher education, the diversity of new entrants to the profession and the diversity of legal practice.
Julie Swan, Law Society head of education and training, who is leading the review which began in 2001, said there was general agreement that a period of work-based learning was a necessary part of qualification. However, she said it had yet to be resolved as to whether the current arrangement was the best way to regulate that time.
A period of learning akin to that of a training contract is likely to be a feature in the future, but whether the training contract remains is a question well be looking at, she said.
Council members were also presented with a summary of the 121 responses to the last consultation on the framework, which revealed a split between the different interested parties. Although all responses recognised the need for change, LPC providers and firms wanted to keep the LPC and the current training contracts were found to suit the majority of large firms. In contrast, representative groups, such as the Trainee Solicitors Group and the Black Solicitors Network, were in favour of radical change because of concerns about the expense of qualifying and other barriers that make entry into the profession difficult.