In response to a report in The Lawyer (21 February), I would like to say that a £2.5m programme is under way to improve the College of Law's Store Street branch. A total of £1.5m was spent in the summer of 1999 and a further £1m will be spent in refurbishing it this summer.
One of the most important changes has been to improve information and research facilities. The library resources have been brought together into a three-floor library block, which includes an IT facility for legal research and CD-Rom training.
We have also established a cybercafe that has 100 PCs on which students can work and enjoy unlimited internet access. Feedback from students indicates these facilities have been greeted with enthusiasm.
In addition, four new, large teaching rooms have been created and six other classrooms were refurbished. The remaining teaching space will be refurbished this summer.
As a charity, we take our responsibilities to the community seriously. This year, we have invested in a pro bono centre in Store Street as an extension of the clinic which has been running in Chancery Lane for bar students. By the end of this year more than 200 students will have experienced client contact first hand by helping to advise members of the public on real-life problems.
The Store Street branch has always attracted high quality staff from a range of practices. In a recent Law Society report, 98 per cent of the teaching sessions were judged to be good or very good. Our staff are enthusiastic about the changes which are being made.
This is the position now. The report to which you referred last week was commissioned by myself and the new director of Store Street and produced two years ago. It was widely disseminated internally and among some of my clients.
Neither I nor my colleagues have tried to disguise any of the problems which the College of Law has had in managing much needed change. Our policy has been to address them. At the time of the report to which you refer staff turnover at Store Street was high. It is now 10 per cent lower than the national average – and lower than our City law firm clients.
This represents a testament to the new management team and the improved environment in which they are working. Our aim has been to assume a role in legal education which enables us to fully acquit our responsibilities that come with being the largest provider of legal education in the UK and the rest of Europe.
The investment we have made has enabled us to resume leadership in the field of legal education and training and justify the confidence that students place in us. We are a law school for the profession and the community and that is where we will remain.
Nigel Savage, chief executive, College of Law