Beware IT’s impact on the legal market, training review is told

Legal education and training should take into account future changes to the structure of the legal market, government adviser and speaker Professor Richard Susskind OBE has told the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR).

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Susskind made the recommendations in his paper Provocations and Perspectives, published as part of the review stage of the LETR. He calls for it to “invent the future of legal education and training” through use of new technology and the consequent emergence of new roles.

Susskind identifies three future trends which will affect the legal market: clients demanding more for less from their legal service providers; new technology’s impact on societal and economic structures and the spread of legal services due to the Legal Services Act 2007, which allows new providers and new methods of delivering services.

He claims that these factors mean that legal work be undertaken in the most cost-effective way possible, meaning that routine or administrative work would be outsourced to emerging professions rather than being done by lawyers.

Identifying the danger of treating the review, the first of its kind for decades, as a streamlining exercise of the current system, Susskind insists that the review must leave in place a system fit for purpose for the coming decades and recommends a framework to measure and appraise the review’s progress every three to five years.

Professor Julian Webb, who heads up the LETR research team, says: “It is important that the review builds on as good an understanding as possible of how the delivery of legal services is likely to change in the foreseeable future, and of the ways in which legal education and training could better prepare tomorrow’s lawyers for those changes.”

The review is scheduled to produce its report in December 2012. The three regulators responsible for commissioning the report, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards, will then consider the proposals individually.

The news follows a discussion paper in August in which the LETR review team questioned whether the current legal education system is fit for purpose. (28 August 2012)