Govt tells Law Society and Bar to devise vocational loan scheme

THE Law Society and the Bar Council have been asked by the government to draw up proposals for a loan scheme to help budding lawyers fund their vocational training.

The move follows a meeting between Bar Council chairman Robert Owen QC, Phillip Sycamore, the president of the Law Society, and Education Minister Kim Howells last Wednesday.

Howells asked the pair to submit their own proposals for a loan scheme after they told him of the enormous debt problems faced by students attempting to pay their way through law school.

A Law Society spokesman said it was likely the two bodies would call for a “contingent loan scheme” like the one planned by the government for university undergraduates who from next autumn will be faced with having to pay tuition fees for the first time.

Under the scheme, students are required to pay back their loans only once they are employed and earning a certain amount of money.

A Law Society spokesman described the meeting, which was also attended by Hannah Wiskin, the former president of the Trainee Solicitors Group, as “encouraging”.

Wiskin commented: “We were able to put across our concerns about the problems people from poor backgrounds have in trying to get access to the law, which the minister did not seem to have fully appreciated before.”