One year in: The Legal Education and Training Review
June 2011 saw the launch of a fundamental and wide-ranging review of legal education and training in the form of the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR). It is billed as the most substantial review since 1971.
What has this got to do with you, a foreign-qualified lawyer? Quite a lot, as it happens. A basic understanding of what LETR is all about can be helpful, since you may be affected by the final recommendations if you are interested in qualifying as an English solicitor.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards (IPS) – the three regulators for legal practitioners in England and Wales – are undertaking the LETR. The purpose of the LETR is to conduct an evidence-based review of legal education and training for the whole legal sector – both regulated and non-regulated – in the context of the requirements of the Legal Services Act 2007 – and set out recommendations in terms of the systems, qualification routes and outcomes that will be required for the future.
No stone is being left unturned. Every aspect of education and training, from the academic stage through to professional training and continuing professional development is covered. The whole thing!
The final report of the LETR is expected by December 2012. It is then up to the SRA, BSB and IPS as to consult on the report and whether to implement any or all of the recommendations. With the LETR inviting consultations from any and all interested parties, it will be very interesting to see the results of the review and the recommendations made.
Whilst there is scarce mention of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) in the available material on the LETR website (http://www.letr.org.uk), the very recent introduction of this route to qualification, along with the extensive research and thorough developmental process behind it makes us at QLTS School feel that the QLTS is unlikely to face abolition or substantial rework as a result of the LETR.
However, some ideas have been suggested to the LETR as to how the QLTS assessments could be used to authorise internationally qualified lawyers to provide written opinion on matters of English law, but not to act as fully qualified English solicitors, if candidates so wish. This is a kind of middle ground between the restrictions placed on non-qualified lawyers in respect of practice in English law and the rightly stringent standards and regulation that a fully qualified English solicitor must follow.
Whether the proposal is incorporated into the recommendations remains to be seen, but we’ll keep you informed, both on this and the LETR generally, here on qlts.com.
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