LETR: 26 recommendations to address deficiencies in current system

The Legal Education and Training Report (LETR), which was published today, makes 26 key recommendations. These are designed to address the fact that while the current system offers "a good standard of education and training enabling the development of the core knowledge and skills needed for practice across the range of regulated professions", it also has some weaknesses. They include:

  • insufficient assurance of a consistent quality of outcomes and assessment standards;
  • limits on acceptable forms of professional training which may unnecessarily impact the utility of training, inhibit innovation or restrict competition;
  • knowledge and skills gaps in respect of legal values and professional ethics, communication, management skills, and equality and diversity awareness;
  • limits on horizontal and vertical mobility, which may become increasingly important as the market becomes more fluid; and
  • the impact of increasing cost barriers affecting access to academic, professional and workplace training.

The report's 26 recommendations are organised into four groups - outcomes and standards; content; structures and review process. Please note, in this context, a 'trainee' includes members of any profession prior to qualification or, in the case of barristers and notaries, prior to authorisation to conduct independent practice.

Below is an edited selection of those recommendations that are likely to be of most direct interest to LawCareers.Net readers:

  • Learning outcomes should be prescribed for the knowledge, skills and attributes expected of a competent member of each of the regulated professions.
  • Education and training providers should have appropriate methods in place for setting assessment standards to ensure that students or trainees have achieved the outcomes prescribed.
  • Learning outcomes should be based on occupational analysis of the range of knowledge, skills and attributes required, and which should begin with a set of 'day one' learning outcomes that must be achieved before trainees can receive authorisation to practise.
  • Consideration should be given to the development of a common framework of learning outcomes and standards for the legal services sector as a whole.
  • Education and training schemes should include learning outcomes in respect of professional ethics, legal research, and the demonstration of a range of written and oral communication skills.
  • Learning outcomes should refer to an understanding of the relationship between morality and law, the values underpinning the legal system, and the role of lawyers in relation to those values.
  • Advocacy training across the sector should pay greater attention to preparing trainees and practitioners in their role and duties as advocates when appearing against litigants-in-person.
  • 'Foundations of Legal Knowledge' in the law degree and GDL should be reviewed.
  • The structure of the LPC Stage 1 should be modified with a view to increasing flexibility of delivery and the development of specialist pathways.
  • The BPTC should be reviewed to place greater practical emphasis on the skills required by alternative dispute resolution.
  • Structures which allow different levels or stages (in particular formal education and periods of supervised practice) to take place concurrently should be encouraged where they do not already exist. Sequential structures (ie, where formal education is completed before starting supervised practice) should also be permitted where appropriate.
  • Conduct standards and guidance governing the offering of internships and work placements should be put in place.
  • Work should proceed to develop higher apprenticeship qualifications at levels 5-7 as part of an additional non-graduate pathway into the regulated professions.
  • Within regulated entities, there is no need to move to individual regulation of paralegals. However, the development of a single voluntary system of certification/licensing for paralegal staff should be considered, based on a common set of outcomes and standards.
  • Providers of legal education should be required to publish diversity data for their professional or vocational courses, law degrees and GDL.
  • A 'Legal Education Council' should be established to provide a forum for the coordination of the continuing review of education and training, and to advise regulators on effective practice.

For all 26 recommendations, and explanatory notes, see the executive summary.

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