Initiative to provide new routes into legal profession welcomed in region

YORKSHIRE-based lawyers have welcomed an initiative which could provide “new routes” into the legal profession, provided it doesn’t lead to a drop in standards.

In its response to the Legal Education and Training Review Discussion Paper, the Law Society said it wanted to ensure that people from a wider range of backgrounds had the chance to become lawyers.

Peter Wright, from Sheffield, The Law Society Council member for Yorkshire, said he was disappointed that the report had failed to come up with a plan to address the “severe problems” faced by those who wanted to enter the profession, but didn’t have a training contract with a top firm.

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He added: “A decade ago, coming from a single parent background and being the first in my family to go to university, I found it very arduous to pay my way through university and an LPC before qualifying.

“The hurdles that are set before aspiring lawyers are now higher than ever.”

Bill Barton, a director of Leeds Law Society, said: “Qualification should be possible through degree courses, but also by work-based learning.

“It is not one size that fits all. In a world where advances in technology mean that you can be acting for an individual, a company or an organisation from anywhere in the world, the broadest range of qualified lawyers is essential.”

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and Institute of Legal Executives Professional Services commissioned the review of legal education and training.

The review’s final recommendations are expected to be published in early 2013.

The review aims to take account of the demands on legal services and the changing shape of the legal services market.

The Law Society will submit a formal response to any proposed changes next year.