I expect I am not the only solicitor who found that the Legal Practice Course was far from the ‘gold standard’ that it is claimed to be (letters, 8 May). On the contrary, the LPC seems to lack training in the basic skills required for future solicitors and gives a false confidence and security to those who pay the £15,000 ‘tax’ for the course.
A query to a new trainee solicitor in a common area of practice can be met with a limited response, followed by some speedy catching-up. It is not that trainee solicitors are incapable or unwilling – far from it – but they cannot learn that which they are not taught.
A supportive training and learning environment from a law firm that values trainee solicitors is incomparably more beneficial. There can be no more ‘rigorous technical training’ in drafting and legal research than to do it for real, under the guidance of an experienced solicitor who can give praise where it is due for effort and quality, and redirect the efforts of a trainee solicitor who has fallen short.
The LPC offers little more than the opportunity to read up on the theory and ‘give it a go’, under the guidance of a (usually non-practising) solicitor who may not have had direct client contact for years.
It is already a ‘dumbed-down alternative’ to good work-based training, and where the profession is in constant competition with other industries to recruit talented people, such a high financial barrier to entry that cannot guarantee quality is a clear disadvantage.
Whether the SQE is a success will be determined by whether it can bridge the gap between the expectations of firms and the outcomes for candidates. This may depend to an extent on whether implementation of the qualification can be placed mainly within the practising profession, rather than the academic industry that has sprung up around it.
Daniel Stanton, Kiteleys Solicitors, Ferndown, Dorset