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Attending the first in a series of seminars run by the Legal Services Board “Education and Training: Getting Fit for 2012” on Tuesday I felt I was listening to a series of successful duets as speakers and audience members, in the most respectful tones of course, took up the cudgels to debate the future of the legal profession, or to be more precise “authorized legal services providers”.
Professor Stephen Mayson, director of the Legal Services Institute, kicked off the event with a series of names illustrating the profound changes taking place in the legal market under the new ABS regime - Co-operative Legal Services, Burford Capital, Duke Street, Slater & Gordon, BT Claims, Riverview Law, Legal365.com - and the statement that “We are seeing the most profound change in the separation of the legal profession from the legal services market.
The two are no longer coterminous, they are now co-existent and possibly even concentric.”
He followed that up with a series of propositions: that the qualifying law degree is too prescriptive; that the LPC is not preparing people adequately for practise; that training contracts act as a barrier to entry; and CPD is discredited and ineffective in ensuring confidence in the legal profession.
His conclusion was that while the current system is not totally unfit for purpose it is not fit enough for its new purpose.
Some of the themes coming out of the discussion were the challenges of globalisation and barriers to access - themes echoed in some of the stories Lawyer2B has featured online this week with Eversheds championing access to the profession by rolling out a school leaver academy and offering its support to a new government careers portal while Herbert Smith is homing in on language students to provide some extra oomph to its global reach.
Unsurprisingly, the debate was intense and extensive while, following the latest issue of Lawyer2B which touched on many of the issues discussed, I kept my head well down.