Actually we don’t mind non-graduates becoming solicitors, says Law Society

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17 February 2016

Law Society: "always been supportive of alternate routes"

Law Society: “always been supportive of alternate routes”

The Law Society does not oppose non-graduates becoming solicitors, despite its chief executive saying earlier this week that they would devalue the qualification, it said yesterday.

Instead it now says that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) consultation on entry to the profession “may result in the standard of entry being lowered”.

As we reported yesterday, in an article in the Law Society’s Gazette on Monday – sent to 130,000 solicitors – Catherine Dixon said the SRA plan to allow non-graduates to qualify “has the potential to damage both the profession’s reputation, and the envied global status of England and Wales as a centre of legal excellence and jurisdiction of choice”.

This would have put it at odds with the government-backed introduction of apprenticeships.

Asked by this website yesterday whether the change of policy had been ratified by the society’s ruling council and if the society would now be campaigning against apprenticeships, a spokeswoman said: “Our position on apprenticeships remains the same. Any route to entry should encompass a level 6 qualification, as set out by the National Qualifications Framework, as a minimum standard.

“Equality, diversity and social mobility are fundamental factors for the future of the profession and the Law Society has always been supportive of alternate routes, so long as they meet the necessary standards, which apprenticeships do.”

She said that the online version of the article had been amended to reflect this position “more accurately”.

The article now says: “The SRA’s consultation on entry into the profession may result in the standard of entry being lowered, which has the potential to damage both the profession’s reputation, and the envied global status of England and Wales as a centre of legal excellence and jurisdiction of choice.

“The reason for this lowering of standards is to enable deregulation. We support deregulation but not at the expense of lowering professional standards and entry into the profession because we know this to be damaging to our profession and to the clients we serve.

“The society also believes regulatory change which devalues the solicitor qualification will not deal with the fact that solicitors are still competing against unregulated providers and address concerns about unmet legal need.

“It also goes against the direction of travel in other professions, including teaching and nursing, which are requiring higher levels of academic rigour; and is causing grave concern to many of our larger commercial and City firms in particular.”

No explanation of how the confusion came about has yet been provided.

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