Law Society under fire over plans for training revolution

The Law Society was last week accused of ambushing the legal profession with radical proposals to overhaul legal education.

The Training Framework Review (TFR) – established four years ago to bring flexibility to the qualification process – wants to abolish the requirement for a law degree or vocational training, such as the LPC, to qualify as a lawyer.

The proposals have been widely derided for their potential impact on standards, the cost and logistical difficulty of implementation and the failure of the 10-person TFR group to consult.

The group is itself split, with two members – Melissa Hardee of the Inns of Court School of Law and Phil Knott of Nottingham Law School – opposing the proposals.

“To abandon the requirement of vocational training will disadvantage the very people we want to come into the profession,” said Hardee.

David McIntosh, president of the City of London Law Society, accused the TFR of pursuing the “blinkered agendas of people who should know better”.

“Given the Law Society was slow to recognise the particular needs of City practices,” he argued, “why on earth are they now running the gauntlet of reducing standards?”

College of Law chief ex-ecutive Nigel Savage said: “I’m the CEO of the biggest law school in the country and I only found out about these proposals four days before they go before the [Law Society] Standards Board. [Under the plans] it will take longer to become a Corgi-registered plumber than a lawyer.”

Professor Alan Paterson, president of the Society of Legal Scholars, while welcoming the Law Society’s commitment to increasing access, said: “These proposals appear to rely very heavily on assessments of work-based learning, which the Scottish experience suggests are logistically very difficult and expensive to implement.”

“The proposals present challenges and opportunities that will be fully discussed by the society’s Council,” said Janet Paraskeva, chief executive of the Law Society.