SRA chairman questions wisdom of training contracts

The chairman of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has challenged the training contract model. 

Charles Plant, a former partner of legacy firm Herbert Smith, said that Britain was alone in recruiting City solicitors four years before they would qualify as lawyers. He labelled the system an “extraordinary procedure” and questioned the wisdom of second-year university students being asked to decide their career paths at such an early stage.

Plant was speaking at a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives seminar on the recently-released Legal Education and Training Review (LETR).

He added that he believed that solicitors and barristers should share training and that an individual should be able to transfer between the two professions more easily.

At a similar seminar earlier this month, held by the Westminster Legal Policy Forum, head of LETR’s research group and University of Warwick professor Julian Webb said that there was a need for greater coordination in training the different parts of the profession.

He said that if the British legal profession failed in this, there was “a very real danger” it would be left behind in the global legal market.

During the CILEx-hosted seminar, all four legal regulators agreed with the view that the creation of a Legal Education Council, as proposed in LETR, would be a mistake. Such a council would have acted as a guardian of legal education, centralising some of the functions currently performed by the individual regulators.