LSB chair calls for shorter path to legal profession in wake of tuition fee hikes

Rising levels of debt in the wake of tuition fee hikes will mean that the length of time students spend being educated will need to be reduced, according to the chairman of the Legal Services Board.

During his speech at the annual Lord Upjohn lecture in London last Friday (19 November), David Edmonds said that the time spent in education – as well as debts accrued during this time – would need to shrink to ensure that students do not make “crucial and costly investment decisions before getting a real ‘feel’ for the area of practice and all that it will involve.”

Edmonds (pictured) also floated the idea of introducing professional training during full-time employment at commercial law firms.

He said: “Indeed, do we need to assume that the training contract and pupillage need to be inviolable parts of everybody’s career progression or should they be one route among others?”

“There are perhaps lessons from past apprenticeship models which are worthy of being revisited.”

During his speech, Edmonds explored the dangers of training graduates who have little or no chance of breaking into a legal career in the current economic environment, and stated his disapproval of plans to introduce aptitude tests for the Legal Practice Course.

Edmonds also highlighted the importance of analysing the possible consequences of the implementation of the Legal Services Act on legal education and training.

The speech was given on the same day that it was announced that the three biggest legal regulators in England and Wales are set to launch a full-scale review of legal education and training.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards announced details of the review last week.