The Legal Future – Part 1

So if any of you read the Lawyer2B magazine, they wrote an article towards the end of November 2013 looking at the way in which the legal profession is changing and whether the future is going to be slightly better.

So whilst they don’t anticipate that the route to qualifying will be any different (with the LLB and LPC still standing) they do suggest alternatives routes into the profession. In their article they have highlighted some of the reasons why things are changing, predictions for the future and also the three future employers.

 I am going to go through some of the major trends they see having an impact on the profession as well as how they predict legal training may look in the future.

 The recession

The banking crisis in 2008 ended quite a good period of prosperity for lawyers, and this had a massive impact on not only the smaller, high street firms but the big law firms also.  The larger law firms had always been able to rely on corporate and finance work, with their key clients being banks and major companies but when the recession hit, there was hardly any work going around, and 2009 has been named one of the worst years for lawyers and saw a large number of redundancies.

 The recession brought with it challenges for law students, as training contract numbers took a significant decline and some academics have questioned whether the numbers will ever recover.  But as my blog post from yesterday showed, things are improving and more firms are being able to retain a greater proportion of their trainees as NQ solicitors.  As work loads are now increasing, the situation is far better than it was in 2009 but firms are having to be careful and keep an eye on expenditure and costs to ensure that should there be another serious recession they may not be in such a bad situation as in previous years.

 The recession has also hit clients, who are unable to afford the considerable legal costs and are wanting law firms to charge less, and this is now leading to firms potentially restructuring the way they run their workload.  Which may see low-level work which requires minimal legal knowledge being undertaken by paralegals and assistants rather than trainees – in an attempt to optimise the work of trainees and get them doing more legal work.

 Legal Education Reforms

 Training contracts and Pupillages have been the pathway for solicitors and barristers for years, but even though they are surrounded by history, there is going to be further research undertaken to determine whether changes need to be made to the way lawyers are trained. 

 The Legal Education and Training Review, published in 2013, made  no radical suggestions and stated that the current system for training lawyers was fit for purpose.  However they did note that they would like to see a way for non-graduates to enter the legal profession, such as school leavers undertaking apprenticeships as a way of qualifying as lawyers.  I am not sure how well this will go down with students wanting to study Law at University and going down that route, if other people are just doing apprenticeships?

There are some apprenticeship schemes already running – but often the schemes allow school leavers to train as chartered legal executive lawyers (CILEX) – but it seems that the Review would like to see school leavers being able to qualify with full solicitor status without undertaking the LLB or LPC.

It would be interesting to know what people think on this, as the Review believe that given the increase in tuition fees for University they see the apprenticeships being a far more attractive option for students, but I am not sure how people paying for a degree will feel?

Part 2 of this will follow soon.

rebecca x


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