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“Unbalanced or worse” was the verdict of the president of the Supreme Court on the Legal Education and Training Review last night.
Lord Neuberger asked why so many in the industry were championing radical change, reasoning: “the present system is one which produces many high-quality lawyers and radical reform may pose a threat to that”.
Lecturing at the Association of Law Teachers’ annual meeting, he questioned why the LETR team had chosen to look at just two of the eight objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007: to protect consumers and to ensure an independent, diverse and effective industry, saying: “I am afraid that that is not a good start… Its report into the case for reform may therefore be unbalanced or worse.”
He continued: “I would take a lot of persuading that root-and-branch reform is needed. It seems to me that such reform is normally expensive, disruptive, morale-undermining, and, courtesy of the law of unintended consequences, productive of a host of unexpected new problems.”
Although he did suggest that targeted methods of reform such as legal ethics courses during law degrees could be advantageous.
He conceded that the LPC does perhaps need overhauling but denied that the BPTC requires attention and cautioned against merging the two courses: “(there) is no reason for subsuming into a new LPC the BPTC… the BPTC has been overhauled recently; secondly, if significant change is needed to the LPC, it strikes me as probably unwise to overload the change agenda with a substantial and unnecessary additional feature”.
Lord Neuberger also opposed converting to a US system with no vocational training before qualifying.
His comments followed president of the Law Society Lucy Scott-Moncrieff’s comments on the ‘disappointing’ failure of the LETR to discuss diversity. (7 November 2012)