Legal Services Board chairman David Edmonds is wrong to say there is a “disconnect” between legal education and legal practice, the man who has systematically reviewed the Bar’s education and training regime claimed last week.
Giving the keynote address at the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) annual Clementi debate in London, Derek Wood QC also said any suggestion the present training regime was not fit for purpose “does not bear any serious examination”.
Both notions were raised by Mr Edmonds in his Upjohn lecture last November, in which he said that “a constant interplay between practice and education” was not “happening at the level that it should”.
He added that he was hearing “consistently from educationalists and practitioners alike” that “the current framework is simply not fit for purpose”.
Mr Wood, who has headed up reviews of the bar vocational course, pupillage and most recently continuing professional development, said: “It is not correct to say there is a disconnection… between academic legal education and professional legal practice.
“The universities and the profession have determined at which point the baton of education and training should be handed over from one to the other. Each partner is fully aware of what the other is doing. The connection between them is real.”
He pointed to three “conspicuous markers” which he said are “deeply set” and “are likely to stay more or less where they are”, whatever the recommendations of the current joint review of legal education and training by the BSB, Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards, known as Review 2020.
These were the division of the legal profession, which presents different training demands for each branch; the fact that a law degree is not necessary for entry to the profession, which would “cause a major upheaval” if changed; and the fact that post-graduate practical training in the law is “entirely in the hands of the profession”.
Mr Wood said he hoped the review would not “tear up” the work on the content of the qualifying law degree that he said was agreed by the BSB and SRA only last September.