The City of London Law Society has criticised what it calls ‘misconceived’ assumptions underpinning the landmark review of legal education and training.
In a response to the Legal Education and Training Review being conducted by the three main regulators, the group representing 15,000 City lawyers says there is a lack of evidence to support the review’s comment that the current system was unfit for purpose.
The City group calls on executive bodies behind the review to withdraw the comment from the final report when it is released next month.
‘Our single greatest concern is that [the consultation] appears to proceed on the relatively unexamined proposition that there are major performance issues with solicitors and other legal service professionals which could be improved, but are unaddressed, by legal education,’ says the response. ‘Little evidence is produced to support that conclusion.’
The group claims the approach by the LETR places limited value on experience and instead seeks to focus on academic teaching. It argues that new entrants benefit from carrying out legal tasks themselves and watching others do so. ‘This is not a "passive education" but a critical part of the development of a professional,’ it adds.
‘Experience cannot be replicated by academic teaching, no matter how eminent the teacher.’
The City society warns that there is little mention of the gap in training between larger commercial law firms and many smaller high street ones.
The response says larger firms have the resources to promote training and professional development, whereas smaller firms are deprived of the time and resources to give trainees a fully-rounded learning process or even take on trainees at all. ‘Neither of the two LETR consultation papers have really dealt with this growing distinction, which is going to be a pressing issue in the next few years,’ it says.
The response echoes many of the comments of the Law Society in its own submission to the LETR, which was set up by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards.