Consumer panel chair urges LETR to “be bold”

Client-focused reforms should be at the heart of the upcoming legal education and training review (LETR), the chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel has said.

Elisabeth Davies has written to LETR head Professor Julian Webb urging him to “be bold” in his recommendations for legal training and the measuring of professional competence.

Davies adds: “Whatever view is taken about whether the existing system is fit for purpose – and our initial submission highlighted some clear failings – it needs to change to equip professionals with the tools to serve consumers in the future market place.

“This is a once-in-a-generation review… the review team must not be dragged down by vested interests striving to protect the status-quo but instead set out a bold blueprint for the future.”

Davies’ comments go on to stress the importance of consumer confidence in the legal profession, arguing that “the consumer protection framework must be fit for purpose before consumers have the confidence to play the role of driving competition through their purchasing behaviour that is expected of them by government and regulators”.

This can only be done, she asserts, through actively measuring, rather than assuming, professional competence and states the panel’s support for reforming the CPD framework, “It is not enough for lawyers to attend training courses and the like to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date; there must be a much more rounded and evidenced view of their continuing fitness to practise.”

The LETR consultation has now closed and the final review will be published in December.

Last week Professor Richard Susskind OBE warned the LETR that it must take into account the impact of new technology on the legal market. (18 October 2012)