|Law professors lambast proposed reform of solicitor qualification
A planned radical overhaul of the solicitor training regime is “fundamentally flawed”, says a report from senior academics.
The proposed reform – which involves a centralised exam for all those aiming to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales – risked creating a two-tier system that “will damage the reputation of all solicitors”, according to the report.
In a damningly critical analysis, the 118-year-old Society of Legal Scholars says that the proposals have been put forward despite research showing that the legal profession is “broadly happy with the current system”.
The society, whose 3,000 members are mostly legal academics at universities, criticises the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the body that has mooted the reforms, for having “failed to provide robust evidence as to inconsistency of standards in the present system”. In a jibe seemingly aimed at riling the solicitor watchdog, the academics predicted that if the reforms were implemented “the Bar … will truly be able to say that barristers are better educated in the law than solicitors”.
In addition to creating a single qualifying exam, the SRA wants to widen the route to that final hurdle, meaning that a qualifying law degree or the conversation course, the current graduate diploma in law, will no longer be required.
Therefore, SRA officials are likely to suggest that the society’s arguments are based on a degree of self-interest. Indeed, the society’s response to the SRA proposals says: “Most jurisdictions around the world require possession of a law degree as a complement to a centralised assessment. There are real risks that the qualification of solicitor will be devalued in international perception.”
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