Editor’s weekly: Health warning

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. That’s how the Law Society must be feeling right now.

As we reported on Tuesday (28 July) the residents of Chancery Lane are launching a campaign warning students to think twice about trying to break into the legal profession (read story). The idea behind the health warning is to help shrink the growing gap between the numbers of students completing the LPC and training contracts being offered.

But surely discouraging students from aspiring to become lawyers smacks in the face of one of the Law Society’s other major goals of improving diversity in the legal profession? Because won’t such a campaign mostly deter students from non-privileged backgrounds who cant rely on financial help from their parents (ie those that the society is trying to encourage into the fold) from pursuing a career in law?

There’s no denying that something needs to be done to tackle the problem of an oversupply of law students but is a deterrent campaign really the answer? Wouldn’t it be preferable to overhaul the system that created this mess in the first place?

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) for instance is taking much more radical measures. It is planning to introduce a compulsory aptitude test for entry onto the BVC to flush out weak students who have no chance of passing the course in a bid to close the gap between the numbers of BVC students and pupillages on offer (read story).

Though the BVC aptitude test has been derailed by the Office of Fair Trading for being anti-competitive, all methods of reducing the numbers of students completing the BVC or LPC or in other words separating the wheat from the chaff must be looked at seriously by the BSB and Solicitors Regulation Authority respectively.

I’m all in favour of diversity but a system that arguably enables anyone, regardless of ability, to buy a qualification albeit at huge cost is only instilling false hope on students who would be better off pursuing a less ambitious career path. After all, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.