News release

Rigorous standards and flexible pathways

The Director of Education and Training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Julie Brannan, has said that "flexible pathways and rigorous standards" lay at the heart of the Authority's educational reform programme.

Speaking earlier today (Tuesday 4 November) at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum to an audience of regulators, academics and professionals, Julie took a retrospective look at the progress made since the training reforms were announced to:

  • slash red tape
  • make CPD more effective
  • open the doors for new ways to qualify as a solicitor

She also gave an overview of the recent launch of the SRA's consultation on a proposed Competence Statement for solicitors, thanking consumers, practitioners, businesses, educators and for their "input" into the research-based evidence that underpins the statement. Giving greater context to the recent reforms, the Director added that the landscape for legal education and training had been transformed since the 1990s, when the LPC was introduced and university was free. The cost of qualification was now a significant barrier to some aspiring solicitors and any training reform framework needed to reflect this.

Julie Brannan said: "We've already started the process of opening up pathways to qualification. We are fully signed up to the new apprenticeship schemes in England and Wales which will enable people to qualify as a solicitor through working in a legal environment rather than going to university.

"Our training framework must recognise this. Encouraging bright, ambitious people from all backgrounds to qualify as solicitors can only strengthen the profession and therefore better protect clients. We need to focus not just on admission, but on progression, too, to see a properly diverse profession in all parts of the legal services market.

"We see the Competence Statement as an essential tool for achieving this, and we would particularly encourage strong responses on diversity issues in our consultation."

Read Julie Brannan's speech.

Read the consultation on the Competence Statement Consultation.