An influential thinktank has proposed scrapping the training contract for non-reserved work as part of a radical overhaul of the qualification process.
The College of Law’s Legal Services Policy Institute advances far-reaching proposals for change in a strategy document to be published this week.
It proposes moving the point of qualification to grant the professional title of ‘solicitor’ to everyone who successfully completes the legal practice course (LPC). These solicitors would be able to undertake unreserved legal activities such as transactional work or employment advice.
However, those wishing to practise any reserved activity such as exercising rights of audience would need to undergo a period of training at a firm, similar to the current training contract, before they could obtain an endorsement to their practising certificate which would allow them to carry out this work.
Report author Professor Stephen Mayson (pictured), policy institute director, said the new process would better reflect the current realities of legal practice, in which only a minority of the profession does reserved work.
The report claims the change would also raise standards of competence in those areas of law currently reserved to solicitors, would help widen access to the profession and would be better suited to the new regulatory environment created by the Legal Services Act 2007.
Mayson told the Gazette: ‘Our perception is that the LPC and training process lead to a lot of people being overqualified for the work they do. At the same time, those who do reserved work are under-trained because they have had to cover a broad range of subjects in insufficient detail.
‘The thrust of the paper is about preserving and improving the quality and delivery of reserved legal activities.’