Putting “values and ethics” at the heart of legal services provision will be one of the key themes taken forward by the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) following a major symposium in Manchester, we can reveal.
The event – which explored the emerging issues from the review – was attended by around 150 stakeholders from the UK and overseas, and featured a warning from Professor Richard Susskind that those involved should not waste the opportunity the review presents.
Professor Julian Webb, who heads the LETR research team, told Legal Futures that they had identified three headline themes to take forward into the next stage of the review: “assuring a baseline of quality of legal services”, which recognises that competence “has to have a quality component”; enhancing the professionalism and career development of the growing pool of paralegals; and “the sense that as the market moves to a multiplicity of new roles, a function of the LETR is to put values and ethics at the core of legal services”.
These themes will be reflected in the next LETR discussion paper, which is due to be published by the end of this month. Consultation will continue until the end of September, with the research team due to produce its report by the end of the year. This is likely to make high-level recommendations which it will then be for the sponsoring regulators – the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards – to take forwards.
One session at the symposium asked delegates to consider three possible scenarios for the future structure and regulation of legal education and training, ranging from a gentle evolution of the present systems to a “paradigm shift” that concentrates on the activities of legal services providers, detaching the provider’s title from their competence to practise.
In his address to the symposium, Professor Richard Susskind – who is advising the review team – laid out his well-known vision for the future of legal services, and said he would be “so depressed” if it just produced a better version of the existing system.
“We have got to open our eyes, widen our horizons and train our lawyers for as they will be, rather than as they are today,” he said.
Professor Webb described the symposium as “immensely useful” for the research team thanks to the quality of the presentations and engagement of delegates.