The oversupply of law students continued to dominate Lawyer 2B’s news agenda during the past 12 months, culminating in the country’s legal regulators launching a major review of legal education (Lawyer2B.com, 19 November).
But even before the regulators’ announcement Kaplan Law School made a unilateral decision to introduce its own LPC admissions test following a similar move on its Bar Professional Training Course last year (Lawyer 2B, Autumn 2010).
In contrast, the oversupply problem and lacklustre recovery in the jobs market for aspiring lawyers did not stop College of Law and arch-rival BPP Law School launching brand new Bristol branches in September.
Indeed, BPP, which in the summer became the first privately owned institution to gain university status in 30 years, also opened in Birmingham in September and is planning on invading Cambridge, Liverpool and Newcastle next year (Lawyer2B.com, 22 October).
So unexpected was the announcement that it even triggered a Junior Lawyers Division crisis meeting (Lawyer2B.com, 27 October).
The party, however, may be over for all the providers, as the LPC market has shrunk by a whopping 20 per cent this academic year (Lawyer2B. com, 2 December).
So maybe students are finally heeding the Law Society’s warning about just how difficult it is to break into the legal market and are thinking twice about self-funding the £12,000-plus course.
Fragile, meanwhile, is probably the best word to describe the state of the graduate recruitment market in 2010. Although trainee deferrals became a thing of the past, newly qualified retention rates showed significant signs of improvements and salary freezes were lifted, the mood on campus during the current recruitment round was relatively sombre. But thankfully it was not all bad news, with two US law firms, Ropes & Gray and Sullivan & Cromwell, entering the London market. Indeed, with Sullivan planning to offer a £50,000 starting salary, it is arguably not that bad for the junior end of the profession.