The Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) has published a pre-report discussion paper claiming that English legal education is "not fit for purpose".
The LETR is a monstrous hydra combining the SRA, Bar Standards Board and ILEX. It's been running since June 2011 but is rapidly approaching its climax, with the final report due to be delivered in December. This week's discussion paper fired a warning that its recomendations for legal educators may not make for pretty reading.
In short, it's a response to the change in the legal market from the traditional model of a Victorian sweatshop to a modern, commoditised, private-equity led paradigm where paralegals do all the work. In this brave new world, knowing about Donoghue v Stevenson is less important than client care and "people skills". According to the paper (para 134) "Evidence to date...suggests that there are gaps...in core knowledge and commercial skills. More fundamental gaps have been highlighted as regards client relations/communication skills, ethical awareness and organisational skills. If this is correct we suggest it is difficult to see that the system as a whole is fit for its purposes".
|Legal education. A metaphorical rendering.
The whole system comes under scrutiny. There's a discussion of the merits of the LLB as opposed to the GDL, including the shocking revelation that "employers will pursue a borderline 2:1/2:2 in (say) humanities from Oxbridge with the GDL in preference to a 1st Class LLB from a less well known institution". And much pondering over whether to combine artificial vocational training with on-the-job learning, as accountants do. The report suggests the market won't return to (already low) 2010 levels of employment until 2018, and fails to address the issue of law schools piping out twice as many LPC grads as there are training places.
Check out the full discussion paper here, but be warned that its 50 pages are pretty heavy going, rammed with management tosh like "stakeholders" and "symbiotic relationships". December can't come soon enough.