Don’t restrict law school places, says Legal Services Board

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has set out its views before regulators proceed with plans for the implementation of the Legal Education and Training Review.

In a consultation paper published today, the LSB acknowledges the “increasing concern” among lawyers as to the number of LPC and BPTC graduates that fail to obtain pupillage or training contracts.

It says: “This is sometimes positioned as an issue of ‘over supply’ in the legal services market where there seems to be too many lawyers coming through the system,” but argues that it is “very difficult” to accept the argument that there are too many lawyers, “given the levels of unmet need identified in research looking at both individual and small business consumers.”

The paper adds that, “given the regulatory objective to promote competition and protect and promote the interests of consumers it would be very difficult to accept any attempt by a regulator to use its regulatory arrangements to restrict numbers.”

The LSB argues that the solution to the issues of graduates being left unemployed after law school “lies not in further restrictions but in fewer restrictions to the way that people are able to qualify and the range of options open to individuals wishing to pursue a career in the legal services market.”

Its final proposal is: “Regulators place no direct or indirect restrictions on the numbers entering the profession.”

The consultation, launched today, is a response to the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR), which was was commissioned by the legal profession’s three main watchdogs – the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives’ Professional Standards – and released in June after several delays. 

The LETR was intended to be the most substantial review of legal education and training since the Ormrod Report of 1971, but has recieved a lukewarm reception.

The LSB’s consultation will continue until 11 December 2013. The full report can be read on the LSB website. Responses should be sent to consultations@legalservicesboard.org.uk.