The training to become a solicitor or barrister is changing. Real World looks at the most important developments. By Hannah Davies
The LPC, the vocational training stage of becoming a solicitor, is changing. In essence, course providers will have more freedom to tailor their training to particular areas of Law and to students’ interests. There will also be important structural developments. The LPC is currently a one-year course, with participants taking various compulsory modules in stage one, and three elective vocational subjects during stage two. Under the new system, students will be able to skip straight to the training contract after the first stage of the LPC, and take stage two at a law firm, or with a different law school. This means that future solicitors can spread the cost of their training. The changes will be in place from September 2010; there are currently no plans to make it compulsory for students to split the LPC year.
For details, see the Solicitors Regulation Authority website: www.sra.org.uk
Around 6,000 future solicitors enter training contracts each year, according to the Law Society. That sounds promising, but don’t be fooled: competition for training contracts is fierce, and approximately 2,500 would-be lawyers fail to secure a place by the time they finish the LPC. Help may be at hand in the form of Work Based Learning, a new scheme from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The scheme will allow LPC graduates without a training contract, to work towards qualification as a solicitor. Those on the scheme would work as Paralegals at participating law firms, but would also participate in a structured training programme. The pilot starts in September 2008, and, if successful, will be rolled out across England and Wales in 2011.
The Bar Standards Board is conducting a review of the BVC, including entry requirements, course content, and cost. This should be completed by summer 2008. Any changes are expected to be in place starting from September 2010.
Currently, students who complete the BVC are ‘called to the Bar’, that is, qualify as a barrister. However, in order to practise as a barrister, BVC graduates still have to complete a one-year pupillage. The Bar Standards Board had planned to defer the stage at which BVC graduates are called to the Bar until after pupillage, starting from September 2008. This has not in fact come into force, due to objections from many within the legal profession. At the time of going to press, the final decision had not been made.
For details, see the Bar Standards Board website: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk