News releases

SRA announces proposals for radical reform of education and training

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today, Wednesday 16 October, publishes proposals for radical and wide-ranging changes to legal education and training.

Its policy statement, Training for Tomorrow, sets out a comprehensive programme of proposals designed to produce a strong and effective system of legal education and training to ensure the provision of legal services of the highest possible quality. The proposals will be subject to detailed consultation over the coming months.

They 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
  • 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.

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.”

Martin Coleman, chair of the SRA Education and Training Committee, added: "The individuals, businesses and other entities that the SRA regulates offer services that are of critical importance in upholding the rule of law; protecting the rights of individuals; ensuring the efficiency of commercial and financial transactions and underpinning the strength of UK professional services in the global marketplace. It is essential that these services are of the highest possible quality and this requires a strong and effective system of legal education and training.

“While the current education and training system has served us well, technology, changing consumer demands and the regulatory system itself are reshaping the ways in which legal services are delivered. Legal education and training must adapt to reflect these wider changes. Our proposals are designed to make our education and training system ready for the world in which legal services are now provided."

The SRA is keen to encourage discussion with members of the profession and legal services providers, consumer organisations, education providers, students and other interested parties on the potential changes. A new microsite has been launched to facilitate debate.

There will also be a series of events around the country, so project team members can meet stakeholders and discuss views and opinions.

Find out more on Training for Tomorrow.

View the policy statement.

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