Editor’s weekly: Education revolution

In the four years that I’ve been editor of Lawyer 2B there’s been much talk of a revolution in the legal education market but very little changed – until now of course.

Indeed, courses for would-be barristers and solicitors are changing at such a rapid pace that if you stop paying attention you’ll be thoroughly confused.

For aspiring barristers the main point to note is that from September 2010 the Bar Vocational Course will be known as the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and as some of you may already know there’s now a new entrant to the market – Kaplan Law School, which hit the headlines late last year when it became the first BPTC provider to introduce an entrance exam for the course (read article).

But it’s the Legal Practice Course (LPC) that has witnessed the biggest changes. As we’ve reported widely in the past it’s now possible to split the course in two meaning that you can take a break between the compulsory modules and your electives – what’s more you can even complete your electives with a different provider.

Meanwhile, those of you who manage to secure a training contract with the so-called City LPC consortium comprising Herbert Smith, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Lovells, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May will be expected to finish the LPC at BPP Law School in just seven-and-a-half months (read more).

When BPP and the City LPC consortium unveiled their accelerated LPC the move was received with scepticism by the College of Law so it was surprising that the latter provider announced earlier this month a similar deal with magic circle firm Linklaters (read more). Surely it’s therefore just a matter of time before other City firms follow? I already know of one firm that met up with the college recently to explore the possibility of doing something similar. But the question that remains unanswered is that if BPP and the college can launch fast-track courses for their prestigious City clients why can’t they do the same for students who are funding the LPC themselves?

That’s where Northumbria University may be able to help. As we report today the law school at Northumbria is piloting a groundbreaking course that will enable aspiring solicitors to qualify in just five years (instead of the usual six) and at a fraction of the cost (read more).

After years of will they, won’t, the legal education landscape is finally changing. I just hope that the revolution doesn’t just benefit the providers.