Remember, remember the eighth of October… Alright it does not have quite the same ring to it as the famous reminder of Guy Fawkes night, but it could be of greater significance to the future of our profession.
A long-suffering LPC graduate, I welcome the SRA’s recent pledge to begin a ‘bonfire’ of training and education regulations this year, as well as the regulator’s (long-overdue) concession that the prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approach to the Holy Grail of qualifying as a solicitor is not fit for purpose.
Following removal of the minimum salary for trainee solicitors and the damp squib that was the Legal Education and Training Review, an overhaul of the current system represents a step in the right direction. And while there will inevitably be concerns that simplifying routes to qualification may drive down standards or convert us from a profession to an ‘industry’, provided the new competency framework is sufficiently robust and not ‘light-touch’, the changes should improve access to and diversity within the legal sector.
There are also economic arguments for shifting to a principles-based approach, namely that more flexible regulation will enable innovation and stimulate competition, as well as prevent the budding brain-drain epidemic which threatens to remove the oversupply of legal professionals in the UK.
Whether these benefits will be realised remains to be seen and will depend on the outcome of the SRA’s consultation. But above all, at the very least, I hope the changes provide renewed belief and a deserved, tangible reward to those who – despite concerted efforts – have not yet fulfilled their ambition of qualifying as a solicitor.
Adam Entwistle, paralegal, Weightmans, Manchester