Two-tier fear over new training proposals

Its a revolution. Well, it will be if the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) gets its act together. Indeed, this morning the regulator announced that its delaying the pilot of its new and highly controversial training regime until 2008

In a nutshell, the regulator was planning to slash the length of time it takes to qualify as a solicitor by more than 12 months. This would be achieved by separating optional courses on the LPC from the compulsory modules, meaning the year-long course would be cut to just six months. Meanwhile, it would become possible to complete a training contract in 18 months rather than two years.

The SRA, however, will not be going back to the drawing board. Instead it will just make a few tweaks here and there.

It wants to overhaul legal education in a bid to make the legal profession more accessible and to ensure standards are maintained. I dont have a problem with the SRAs desire to make it easier for students from non-traditional backgrounds to qualify as solicitors. But Im with the profession on this one and share its concerns that the changes might create a two-tier system.

Those of you who secure a training contract with a larger firm and receive sponsorship for the GDL and/or the LPC will probably not notice any major changes. But if you dont secure a training contract before you graduate then you will continue to face the same problems, such as the cost of the LPC.

The SRA recognises this concern. This morning Dr Jonathan Spencer, chair of the regulators education and training committee, said: The challenge is to develop a system which is robust enough not to be seen as a second class route to qualification, but not so bureaucratic that trainees and their employers are reluctant to use it. We have not yet quite cracked this dilemma.

This issue will continue to rumble on and will have major implications for anyone looking to become a solicitor. So if youre a wannabe lawyer keep clicking on for updates.

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