I am amazed that there has been so little written on the de facto requirement for a solicitor to have a university degree. Not that I have anything against a degree or a university education – it should be encouraged. The problem now is that studying for a degree is very expensive.
Until relatively recently it had been possible to qualify without one and, indeed, looking at notepaper headings from earlier times, most solicitors did.
There was a choice. When the requirement came in, it was effectively free, so there was no great issue. In the days when no degree was needed the theoretical part was well covered by the Law Society exams.
Now, however, there seems to be a requirement to take on a massive debt to qualify. So far as I can see, only a few will earn enough to make that debt repayable easily or at all.
We are told that conveyancing is easy, so there is no apparent need to have a degree for that. Anything involving legal aid obviously does not warrant a degree because it certainly will not generate enough in earnings to justify it.
And most other legal fields can also now be carried out by ‘authorised persons’ who do not need degrees – for example accountants.
Under these circumstances, can anyone tell me the point of the present qualification rules?
Clive Wadham-Smith, Bury St Edmunds