Plans to create three new breeds of lawyer – probate practitioners, conveyancing technicians and probate technicians – are being published today by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
Issuing its annual report for 2015 and business plan for 2016, the CLC said it is also to review its rule book in a bid to aid innovation in the market.
Last year, Parliament approved a major change in the CLC’s regulatory ambit by giving it the power to license probate practitioners without them having first qualified as licensed conveyancers.
The 2016 business plan highlighted the development of the qualification as a key task for the year, alongside new qualifications leading to recognition as a conveyancing or probate technician – essentially junior qualifications.
The plan said: “These new qualifications have been developed in response to employer demand. They are qualifications in their own right that will provide evidence of a standard degree of training and expertise in each field. They are also stepping stones on the way to the higher qualifications should the professional choose to continue their studies.
“Additionally 2016 will see the launch of new apprenticeships that have been created by consortia of employers as part of a government-backed programme. We were delighted to support those groups in their work to ensure that there continues to be a good pipeline of new entrants to the profession and to widen access to the legal sector for people from all backgrounds.
“Those apprenticeships will lead to recognition as probate or conveyancing technician or licence as a licensed conveyancer. It may be that an apprenticeship leading to licence as a probate practitioner will be developed in future if there is employer demand.”
The apprenticeships, which will launch in the autumn, are part of the government’s Trailblazer programme and employers will have access to government funding to support their apprentices.
The review of the code of conduct, as well as the CLC’s financial protection arrangements, will “aim to extend support for innovation and competition in the legal services market”.
The CLC has been outspoken in its support for government plans to make it easier for alternative business structures to enter the market.
The regulator is also to review regulatory fees framework “on the back of reductions in staff numbers and streamlining of CLC activity in 2015”.
CLC chair Dame Janet Paraskeva said: “2016 will see us continuing to focus on the core objective of exploring to the full the benefits of specialist regulation of specialist property law services providers. Specialisation delivers high standards of consumer protection in conveyancing and probate, the two most widely used legal services.
“I have been told repeatedly since taking up the role of chair of the CLC that those we regulate value our supportive approach that helps them comply with regulation to protect the consumer and develop thriving businesses. The CLC’s approach is unique in the sector, reflecting its original and ongoing mission to promote innovation and competition while protecting the consumer.”