SRA proposes radical and wide-ranging changes to legal education and training

SRA proposes radical and wide-ranging changes to legal education and training

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published a set of radical and wide-ranging proposals for the way in which legal education and training will be provided in the future.

The SRA claim that their plans constitute a comprehensive programme of proposals designed to produce a strong and effective system of legal education and training in the future. Contained in a policy statement entitled Training for Tomorrow, they state that they want to ensure the provision of legal services of the highest possible quality and their proposals will be subject to detailed consultation over the coming months.

The proposals include:

  • Focusing on the competencies required for solicitors at the point of qualification, rather than on a formal process of how to get there. This will permit rigorous assessment at that stage, enable much greater flexibility in the way in which solicitors can qualify, and support innovation by legal education providers and employers. This will help ensure that high quality individuals have the opportunity to become solicitors regardless of their background;
  • Ending the current hours-based approach to post-qualification training (CPD) and introducing a system which focuses on the effectiveness of that training. It would place responsibility on individuals, and the organisations in which they work, for tailoring professional development to reflect their particular needs and circumstances with more of a focus on the role of the entity and its obligation to ensure proper training for all staff – whether solicitors or not; and
  • Streamlining the education and training system by stripping away technical regulations which are not necessary to assure the quality of education and training. For example, no longer requiring students to enrol with the SRA before they commence the Legal Practice Course.

The statement of skills, knowledge and attributes, the new post-qualification training system, and the streamlining of regulations, will be finalised during 2014, although implementation of the full programme of reform will take several years.

Speaking about the proposals, SRA Director of Education and Training, Julie Brannan, said:

“This is a radical programme. The new system will allow for more flexibility and reduce unnecessary regulation, but it will not be a ‘soft’ option. On the contrary, it will bring to bear a greater focus on the quality and standards of those who we regulate to deliver legal services.

“It will open up opportunities for a wider range of individuals to pursue a career as a solicitor and encourage others to innovate and reform some of the more traditional structures of the current legal education system. We will work closely with the other regulators of legal services to promote common approaches wherever these are appropriate.”

In an attempt to encourage discussion with members of the profession, legal services providers and others, the SRA has launched a new microsite and there will also be a series of events around the country, so project team members can meet stakeholders and discuss views and opinions.

For further information read the policy statement here or go to Training for Tomorrow microsite.

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