Legal education and proposed regulation of the legal profession in England and Wales: a transformation or a tragedy?

Fletcher, Roland (2016). Legal education and proposed regulation of the legal profession in England and Wales: a transformation or a tragedy? Law Teacher, 50(3) pp. 371–385.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03069400.2016.1262987

Abstract

Legal education in England and Wales is under review as a direct result of the Solicitors Regulation Authority proposals (SRA). The SRA are implementing a number of radical changes which will have a direct effect on legal education and how educational provision will be delivered in the near future in England and Wales. The SRA have put forward a number of proposals which will introduce the solicitor apprenticeship model. This has far reaching implications for Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) who currently adopt a business model which accommodates the delivery of educational provision for those students who wish to study law and qualify as a solicitor. These changes are likely to remove or diminish the current pathways available to study and qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. The replacement offered by the SRA is the apprenticeship model which has sent shock waves throughout higher educational institutions. The SRA believe these changes will provide a framework that is flexible and is not reliant on a sequence of exams and prescriptive stages to qualify as a solicitor, such as the academic stage (LLB), the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is compounded by increased tuition fees and the completion of a two year training contract. The SRA’s major criticisms of the current system is how the LPC assesses specified standards during specific intervals. They believe the current standards are not universally applied and there is a lack of transparency and consistency across the higher education sector. In response to these concerns the SRA have produced a new model which they refer to as the ‘trailblazer,’ otherwise known as the apprenticeship model.

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