The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards (IPS) are working together to undertake a fundamental review of the legal education and training requirements of individuals and entities delivering legal services. (Update: For the latest infotmation, please the review's website, www.letr.org.uk.)
The services required are part of a collaborative project to examine the requirements of legal education and training in the delivery of the regulatory objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007, principally to create "an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession". This review will take account of the future demands on legal services and the contextual changes that will influence the shape of the legal services market in the future. Central to this is the need for an education and training system that is fit for purpose, and appropriately flexible and responsive to the changing market. High quality education and training are pivotal to ensuring that practitioners from all sections of the profession, and others delivering legal services in regulated legal firms, have the range of skills that are needed to practise in the market of today and the future. Ensuring high ethical standards for lawyers and legal service entities is also vital.
The overall conduct of the review is managed by the project's Review Executive, comprising the CEOs of the SRA, BSB and IPS. The UKCLE Research Consortium was selected to conduct the review in April. The Consortium is led by Professor Julian Webb, University of Warwick, and also includes Professor Paul Maharg, University of Northumbria, Dr Jane Ching, Nottingham Trent University and Professor Avrom Sherr, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. A consultation steering panel chaired by Dame Janet Gaymer and Sir Mark Potter will provide advice and information to the research team and to the regulators, as required, on any matter covered by the review. The Consultation Steering Panel will also form strategic relationships across the sector to promote the review outcomes to the widest possible audience.
The SRA will provide research management support to the Review Executive and Consultation Steering Panel and will be responsible for managing the research contract. The panel is chaired by Dame Janet Gaymer and Sir Mark Potter.
Scope of the review
The scope of the review is wide ranging. It will examine regulated and non-regulated legal services. It is expected however that some recommendations may focus on distinct parts of the sector. The review is intended to cover all legal services education and training including the academic stages of qualification, vocational training and education and continuing professional development for all sections of the profession.
The review will be evidence based; recommendations must be underpinned by sound research and confirmed through consultation and stakeholder engagement.
The research will be conducted in four key stages:
1. Literature review and analysis
Review and analysis of the literature and past research on the system of legal education and training in England and Wales and internationally. This will be supplemented by a comparative study of other sectors and professions.
2. Contextual analysis
Review and analysis of the factors and issues that will influence and affect the shape and structure of legal services in the future.
This stage will include an analysis of the impacts of contextual changes on individuals and entities and define the range of legal and broader emerging roles and the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to provide high quality and competitive services in the legal services market of the future.
3. Workforce development
The Research Team will conduct research in to the legal services sector workforce identifying potential future structural change.
The Research Team will report on the main challenges and changes that will influence the shape of the future legal services sector and determine the legal services education and training system(s) necessary to underpin that structure. They will set out evidenced priorities for action and recommendations to address these issues.
It is expected that the final report will be delivered in December 2012.