Academics clash over Aclec training proposals

Academics are locked in battle over proposals for a new legal training system advocated by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct (Aclec).

The report, unveiled last month, has been attacked by Nigel Savage, chief executive designate of the College of Law, but welcomed by Professor Hepple of the University of Cambridge Law Department.

Among Aclec's proposals are an element of common training for solicitors and barristers, a longer CPE course, shorter training contracts and pupillages, and greater teaching freedom for universities.

Savage, writing in last Friday's edition of the Times Higher Educational Supplement, said the interests of academics were being put before the interests of the profession.

Although he accepted an element of common training for solicitors and barristers, he attacked the recommendation to give universities greater freedom to design there own degrees. “Nothing horrifies me more than the idea of giving universities greater autonomy,” he said.

Savage also rejected the suggestion that the CPE course should be extended.

However, Professor Hepple, who helped write the report, said the proposals marked a shift towards a more liberal and less rigid legal training which would be good for the profession.

“In place of the fragmentation of the present system, the Aclec report offers a new vision of a system of legal education capable of meeting the changing needs for legal services in the next century,” he said.

Richard Jones, Aclec secretary of education, said: “The Aclec report should prove to be very significant in the revitalisation of the law but it is by no means a blueprint for change.”