LETG VIEWPOINT

One theme of Martin Mears' Law Society presidential campaign has been the divide between Chancery Lane and the profession's interests and views. How far is this true of the society's role in the training of the profession?

In this field the Law Society has an impossible job. It is at the same time regulator and policy-maker, and solicitors' 'union' and guide. The profession itself embraces an enormous range of practices, specialisms and interest groups. Its training needs cannot be universal.

The only sensible response to these two problems is for the Law Society to represent and consult as wide a field as possible when reviewing existing training requirements and devising future policy. There has been criticism that decisions on training are often taken by the few in Redditch and Chancery Lane who are 'in the know'. The Law Society goes to some lengths to speak to all manner of interested parties. But is it to inform them of decisions taken, or to consult? And are the interested parties really 'the profession'?

The society's next president will be elected in the wake of open public debate and consultation unseen for many years. Can we achieve the same with policy on training and professional development?

Richard King is chair of the Legal Education and Training Group, an independent association of training managers and partners representing firms around the country.

(This space has been sponsored by the College of Law)