A system that focuses almost exclusively on the point of professional entry is skewed.
Few sights appear more traditional than a solicitors’ admission ceremony at the Law Society in Chancery Lane. It has all the power of timeless ritual.
But as we reflect in this week’s feature, the route to admission is in the process of changing radically. That change is less sudden than the demise of the old Law Society Finals, but will likely prove just as extensive.
Entrants to the profession, as our case studies illustrate, may now come via a preceding qualification as a US attorney, through the paralegal route, or as a legal executive. Other paths could be used. And as regulator, the SRA has also resiled from close management of the conditions trainees experience.
Is this a problem? As with so much in an era where we focus on outcomes and principles, the answer is surely a qualified ‘no’. Or more fully: no, not if people who must now make the day-to-day decisions about what is good or adequate use their judgement, and think about which boxes they have ticked second.
There is in any case a compelling argument that a regulatory system that focuses almost exclusively on the point of professional entry, at the cost of superintendence of a lawyer’s abilities later in their career, is somewhat skewed. Perhaps it is to this last subject that attention should now turn.