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Time is money, goes the saying. So it’s no wonder that our story about Northumbria University’s new fast-track qualification for solicitors has attracted so much attention and a whopping 59 comments.
As we reported on Monday, Northumbria is piloting a new five-year course that combines all three stages of training as a solicitor – the LLB, LPC and training contract – thus shaving off an entire year off the time it takes to become a fully-fledged member of the legal profession (read more).
What’s more students on the radical course should make some hefty savings as they won’t have to fork out for the full cost of the LPC, which is arguably a very positive development at a time when students are finding it increasingly difficult to access postgraduate study loans.
The course, however, has received a mixed response from Lawyer2B.com users with many questioning how such a qualification would fit into the traditional law firm graduate recruitment cycle. While others have even accused Northumbria of launching the course simply to make a commercial gain. “It’s just another money making scam that’s playing on the desperation of students,” wrote anonymous on 22 March.
As is the case with any new initiative there will be those who support it whole-heartedly and those who are dead against it. But regardless of which camp you find yourself in Northumbria’s course definitely raises legitimate questions about the future shape of legal education.
For instance, in light of what Northumbria is doing and the condensed LPCs being rolled out by both BPP Law School and arch-rival the College of Law you have to wonder how much longer the LPC, as we know it, will survive for? Indeed, as access to the legal profession continues to dominate the news agenda it must be only a matter of time before the powers to be realise that the £12,000 per year course is no longer fit for purpose. Let’s just hope that this isn’t completely ignored by the regulators when they finally embark on their much-anticipated legal education review and they don’t take a life time implementing any proposed changes.