Legal education at a crossroads, says Sherr

THE law degree is a “lost sheep” and legal education “is at the crossroads and may have lost its way”, according to Professor Avrom Sherr, of London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

Sherr used his inaugural lecture as Woolf Professor of Legal Education as a platform to call for a new approach to legal education.

In his lecture, delivered earlier this month, he said a shake-up was needed because training for the legal profession had become a “minority interest” with only 42 per cent of graduates qualifying as practising lawyers.

Professional control over the content of law degrees had been relaxed, but undergraduate legal education was looking “somewhat purposeless”, he added.

“Having been able always just to react to the professional bodies, we will now have to think for ourselves,” said Sherr. “The legal profession has designed the core of undergraduate programmes by defining the ingredients of a qualifying law degree, usually constituting over half the syllabus.”

Legal education needed to become more geared towards “theory”, as opposed to a “trade school approach”, he added.