The Law Society Council gave the go-ahead for the next stage of the controversial Training Framework Review last Thursday (24 February), which has split the profession's educational establishment.
The review proposes to scrap the current system for qualifying as a solicitor, replacing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with a series of assessments undertaken over a period of time, ranging from 18 months to two years.
Representatives of City firms and legal education establishments have criticised the proposals, saying that they will make qualifying as a solicitor too easy and will threaten standards.
The council has now approved a new consultation paper on the review and decided that it should be put out to a public consultation period of 12 weeks. The paper has been drawn up by the chair of the society's standards board, together with the chairs of the training committee and the training framework review group.
Among the criticism is a recent report from the Legal Education and Training Group (LETG), which says "the exclusive focus on assessment is based on a flawed and discredited methodology" that is "educationally unsound".
The LETG suggests simpler ways of reforming the current system, including allowing more flexibility in the LPC course and making it simpler.
Bernard George, director of training at Dechert, said: "If we're going to abolish the need for any form of training, then a centrally-set exam is going to be the only way of maintaining standards."