Regulators should not impose limits on numbers entering the profession, the Legal Services Board (LSB) has said in its statutory guidance for the implementation of the Legal Education and Training Review, published this morning.
The super-regulator also said providers of education and training should have the flexibility to determine how to deliver training, education and experience. Regulators must take care not to predetermine approval by prescribing particular routes, it recommends, with no single route being the ‘gold standard.’
Other recommendations include education and training requirements that focus on what an individual must know, understand and be able to do at the point of authorisation; standards that balance requirements at the point of authorisation with ongoing competency; and a requirement for regulators to balance education and training between the individual and entity at the point of entry and as an ongoing objective.
But the LSB said it would not impose a timetable for this process given ‘the complexity and importance of education and training.’
It said the guidance ‘gives sufficient clarity as to the outcomes to be delivered, while allowing an appropriate degree of discretion for approved regulators to decide how best they can be secured, their relative priorities and an appropriate time frame.’
LSB chair David Edmonds (pictured) said today’s guidance ‘is designed to be a catalyst for modernisation of the regulatory framework for education and training. We look to the frontline regulators to implement that guidance in ways that add flexibility to regulation.’
The guidance follows the LSB’s draft consulation published in September, which stated ‘there is no evidence of an oversupply of lawyers in the market’.
The guidance on regulatory arrangements for education and training is statutory under section 162 of the Legal Services Act 2007.
However regulators disputed the need for statutory guidance. John Wotton, chair of the Law Society’s education and training committee, said: 'We still question the need for this guidance, given that the SRA is moving forward with its own review of regulatory requirements for education and training, informed by the LETR and other work they have undertaken. We are continuing to work closely with the SRA in this important modernisation process.
'The principles informing the SRA’s work do not significantly depart from those set out in the LSB’s guidance and are formulated more clearly and in the specific context of the solicitors’ profession and entities regulated by the SRA. We therefore doubt that the LSB’s guidance will make a significant contribution to progress in this sector of the legal market and believe it represents an unnecessary duplication of regulation.'
Head of education and training at the Bar Standards Board, Simon Thornton-Wood, said: ‘As we made clear in our response to the consultation, we believe that the LSB is exceeding its powers by issuing statutory guidance; and it is not necessary, in our view, to do this.
‘The challenge of increasing flexibility in legal education and training is a complex one and there are no straightforward answers. We believe that frontline regulators are best placed to formulate their own approach, tailored to the needs of their respective profession. We will be publishing details of our plans later this spring.’