Law Society CEO unsure how ABSs can “pass-on” professional standards

Desmond Hudson, the Chief Executive of the Law Society, has said he is unsure how alternative business structures (ABS) will pass on professional standards to the next generation of lawyers.

Speaking at a House of Lords breakfast seminar on the future of apprenticeships within the legal sector, Hudson told the audience that the law firm partnership model has been “highly effective at socialising professional standards and passing that on to the next generation of lawyers” but that he was “unsure” as to how such a process could be developed by ABSs.

He went on to say that as part of training for apprentices “ethical behaviour” would need to be overlapped on to “professional competence”.

Opening the seminar, host Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said “the apprenticeship scheme is one that anyone who supports a diverse legal profession should support.”

During a panel discussion, Tony King, Chair of the City of London Law Society Training Committee, said that when working internationally apprentices may find that a lack of a university degree may create difficulties with local bar associations and that a possible enhancement would be if apprentices could be awarded a degree at the end of their training.

The seminar followed the formal launch yesterday of the Level Four Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services to help firms recruit non-graduate paralegals – the Level Four Higher Apprenticeship, developed by Skills for Justice, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and Damar Training, is the equivalent of the first year of a law degree and is aimed at the personal injury, insolvency and debt recovery, and commercial litigation practice areas.

In January, it emerged that the Government is set to roll out a legal apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with BPP Law School, enabling budding lawyers to qualify as solicitors without going to university (3 January 2013).