SAHCA unveils plan to ease route to advocacy for solicitors

A plan to abolish the three-year wait before newly qualified solicitors can gain rights of audience in the higher courts has been put to the Law Society.

Mark Humphries, vice-chair of the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates (SAHCA), is proposing that the Legal Practice Course (LPC), and Professional Skills Course (PSC), should be restructured to provide more advocacy training for potential solicitor-advocates.

He told SAHCA's first annual conference that there was tension between ending the “unjust” discrimination towards solicitors compared to barristers and maintaining advocacy standards. His proposal was “a realistic way of accommodating both objectives”.

Humphries said the conference turnout was good, with about a third of SAHCA attending. “Considering it took place in Coventry on cup final day I think we did well,” he said.

He was also pleased with the number of City solicitor-advocates there. A year ago the attitude of the City – dominated by criminal lawyers – to SAHCA was lukewarm.

Humphries said the conference showed SAHCA had regained the City's confidence.