Lawcast 170: Professor Moorhead on the state of UK legal Education

Today I am talking to Professor Richard Moorhead  deputy head of the law school  at Cardiff University about legal education – the first in a series of between five and seven podcasts on this topical and important issue.
We focus on the following themes:

1. Where are the problems in legal education and training?
2. Is the law degree fit for purpose?
3. Should the professions intervene to improve the law degree?

4. The importance of research-based teaching.  Why should practitioners care about that?

Listen to the podcast

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Richard Moorhead’s blog Lawyer Watch

Richard Moorhead’s blog post: Legal Education Review: Where does the knowledge come from?

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There are 7 podcasts in this series on legal education.

The second podcast in the series:

Lawcast 171: Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law on the need to reform legal education

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 9: Position paper on The Bribery Act

SECRET (NO FOREIGNERS)

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

To: The Partners

RE: BRIBERY AND HOW TO GET AWAY WITH IT

Gentlemen, I write on a matter of some importance to those of our clients who have interests in the aerospace and arms industry and a side interest in what I shall loosely define as ‘football related activities’.

1.  You will, of course, be fully familiar with the provisions of the new Bribery Act and all corporate partners should now have downloaded a new ‘app’ for your Muttley Dastardly iPhone giving you a fool proof guide to these provisions should you need to give advice quickly to clients who are unable to resist the urge to bribe an overseas government or, a member of FIFA or indeed,  if recent Wikileaks revelations about Prince Andrew are to be believed, you are acting in France and Kyrgistan.

2.  I draw your attention to a most excellent briefing in OUT-Law ( so useful to have competitor firms provide briefing papers of value to us in these dark days of cuts and profit maximisation).  I quote the salient passages…

“The Law Society has responded to a consultation on (the government guidelines) and has called for more detail.

The Law Society considered that the guidance is helpful. However, there were specific areas where more detail and clarification would be helpful,” said the Law Society’s response (4-page / 45KB PDF). “The Law Society recognises the importance of prosecutorial discretion in legislation such as this. However, this does mean that there will be a lack of certainty in the early days of implementation and this is a concern for many of our Members and their clients. Clear and swift guidance from the prosecuting authorities would, in our view, help to allay fears and assist firms to ensure compliance with the new Act.”

The Law Society said the approach taken by the Ministry of Justice’s guidance is too vague.

3.  Having examined The Law Society response, a short and pithy paper, I note their concern….“The Law Society also said that the guidance should advise on how companies can deal with bribery that is ongoing, and how they can deal with bribery that occurs in the UK.

“[The guidance's practical examples] are overly complex; they only consider overseas bribery, which may cause firms to overlook the fact that bribery can occur in the UK,” said the Law Society response.”

4.  The Ministry of Justice appears to be reluctant to explain how the legislation may work in any more detail for fear of restricting the discretion of the prosecuting authorities – in this case, the Serious Fraud Office – thus upholding a fine tradition of obfuscation in our laws to allow ‘wiggle room’ should any future prime minister or attorney-general wish to step in at the last moment and stop investigations on grounds of ‘national security’.  Not that one could ever imagine such a thing happening in the United Kingdom.
I think we can safely assume that none of our clients would engage in activities coming within the Bribery Act, as currently understood and implemented by the prosecuting authorities and, I understand, there was much banging of tables and cheering down at the old “Dog and Very Rich Duck’ last night at a meeting of tax avoiders, hedgies, bankers and entrepreneurs and a general feeling that business may proceed as usual and that the new legislation will deter the faint hearted but not unduly restrict those of a more, shall we say, bold disposition who don’t approve of the SFO,  [Expletive] journalists and sundry other traitors sticking their noses into business which is of no concern to them.

It may be wise to download The Law Society response for ‘best practice’ compliance purposes. Law Society’s response (4-page / 45KB PDF) You may even be able to claim some CPD points if you read it.

We meet this Friday to consider our weekly business.

Matt Muttley

Strength & Profits

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Prince Andrew in who is the idiot who is trying to stop us bribing Johnny Foreigner SHOCK HORROR!

It is impossible to parody this latest nonsense from Prince Andrew… he has beaten me to it himself…. classic stuff from Wikileaks…

WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador

Guardian: Duke railed against France, British anti-corruption investigations into BAE and American ignorance, leaked dispatches reveal

During the two-hour engagement in 2008 at a hotel in the capital, Bishkek, Andrew, who travels the globe as a special UK trade representative, attacked Britain’s corruption investigators in the Serious Fraud Office for what he called “idiocy”.

He went on to denounce Guardian reporters investigating bribery as “those [expletive] journalists … who poke their noses everywhere”.

Time to turn up the heat…and shine a very bright light into legal education

It is all very well doing parodies with Muttley Dastardly LLP to make a point on topical  legal issues ( and there are quite a few more MD LLP episodes coming ) but I feel the time has come, having watched from the sidelines for a couple of years, to shine a very bright light onto legal education in England & Wales.
I shall be starting with a podcast tomorrow with Professor Richard Moorehead of Cardiff University.  I plan to do five podcasts with leading figures in legal education. They will be direct and to the point – hopefully.

We shall be discussing, inter alia:

1. Where are the problems in legal education and training?

2. Is the law degree fit for purpose?

3. Should the professions intervene to improve the law degree? [this will be about the Brown review's effects]

4. The importance of research-based teaching.  Why should practitioners care about that?

In the meantime…this from RollonFriday….

BPP parent company in $200m write-off shock

Apollo Group Inc., owners of BPP University College, have published their annual results. And they won’t be easy reading for lead balloon BPP, which faces an enormous balance sheet write-off.

The educational conglomerate’s 4th quarter and end year results include $176 million of “goodwill and intangible impairment charges“. The Lawyer reports that Apollo CFO Brian Schwartz told investors that BPP’s business had been “significantly and adversely impacted by the deep recession in the UK“. Of course that hasn’t stopped the esteemed law school opening up another three much-needed factory farms university campuses. Sounds like the fees need to go up.

A spokesman for Apollo told RollOnFriday that “BPP has been and will continue to be a critical centerpiece of Apollo Global’s expansion strategy. We continue to believe that it has significant potential both now and into the future“…..

Read more…

PRAVDA!: Red *Buzz* Ed Lightweight in plan to take BIG SOCIETY off David Cameron

After 63 days as Labour leader, following an astonishingly long selection process, the Labour Party got the leader they didn’t really want – at least the MPs and Members did not want.  Ed M has been in power – whatever that means these days in Labour circles,  for 63 days.  Deduct 12 or so days for paternity leave… and it would seem he hasn’t achieved much.

The Sun pilloried him this morning for his *Beyond New Labour* idea… and now Ed wants to wrest the idea of BIG Society off David Cameron and set Labour up as The People’s Party… whatever that means these days… and represent  a squeezed middle, whatever that is……

I may have to take up drinking Vodka and take Cossack dancing lessons….

No wonder Toby Young @Toadmeister tweeted this morning that The Coalition could be in power for 1000 years….

The BBC has the story on Ed Miliband’s People’s party plan……

I nicked the excellent rendition of ED as Buzz lightweight from The Sun… I do hope they won’t object.  I thought the rendition…. not a popular word in the Miliband family, I suspect….. was good!

And here is ED….

In a final rallying call, he added:

“Join us on this journey which makes us once again the people’s party, the party of people’s hopes and aspirations, back on people’s side, back in power making for the fairer, the more equal, the more just country we believe in.”

Jeez..another farkin journey…. so last Century!

Law Round Up: A few articles from the press and the UK law blogs

A quick post with some interesting articles on legal issues I have read in the press and in some of the law blogs…

Police kettling stirs the pot of student unrest

This series of letters in the Guardian makes interesting reading on this controversial issue on the kettling and use of police horses at the student demonstration last week.  Professor Lewis Elton – who I had the pleasure of doing a conference with nearly 25 years ago -  makes an interesting point or two…

I also found Laurie Penny’s article in The New Statesman interesting – and thought provoking…Inside the Whitehall kettle

Why Lord Justice Moses should watch 12 Angry Men

Louise Christian in The Guardian: The judge’s proposals on criminal trials are a dangerous attack on the jury system. I hope he won’t prevail

Here is the opening of Moses LJ’s lecture – which I found interesting…

I shall speak to you at length; I cannot even say how long I will be. There will be few intervals; about once every 1½ hours if you are lucky, or 2 hours. I cannot say how long this will last, certainly more than a day, so please do not believe you can make any sensible arrangements for the rest of the week. You will not be able to take a proper note; even if you had pen and paper, your neighbour will be pressing hard upon your writing arm. You cannot interrupt or ask questions while I am speaking. To those of you who are not lawyers, or practise only in the commercial court, if that is not tautology, I shall be speaking in a language entirely foreign to you. There will be few visual aids; I shall expect throughout to capture your attention with the power of my voice, speaking faster during those parts of the process which I do not really understand and more slowly when it is really important. Before I finish my lecture it would be as well if you did not discuss it amongst yourselves because you will not, until I finish, have learnt all I wish to teach nor had the opportunity to appreciate my objective. Please, if I haven’t finished today do not discuss it with anyone else when you get home tonight. When I have finished I shall set you an exam. It is not the sort of exam with which you will be familiar. You must all agree the answer. You will receive the same mark and you will never know if you have reached the right
answer.

Most criminal practitioners I have spoken to over the years have expressed support for the jury system.  One does wonder, though, how jurors cope with the complexity of law and fact in a long complex trial.

Adam Wagner of the UK Human Rights blog adds a bit of light…. Jury summings-up should be binned, says judge

Ken Clarke plans tough changes to community service – run privately

Continuing with the plan to ‘improve British justice’ The Guardian notes: “Facing big budget cuts, Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, will publish a green paper on sentencing in the next fortnight which will introduce new private agencies, as opposed to probation services, to enforce tougher community orders. Clarke is eager to reduce the number of people serving short sentences, and Downing Street is determined that the alternative of community sentences should be seen to be tougher.”

Keen as I am to see improvements in the ‘corrections’ (We appear to be giving up on rehabilitation etc as an underlying rationale?)  part of the of the justice system,  I can’t be alone in having reservations and expressing a view that  placing prison control and community service into the hands of private for profit companies is necessarily a good thing.  I welcome comment from readers who have knowledge and experience of this issue.

The EU Bill in the European Scrutiny Committee

Carl Gardner in his Head of Legal blog writes: “Bill Cash’s European Scrutiny Committee of the Commons is looking at the EU Bill, and in particular is considering very closely clause 18, William Hague’s “national sovereignty clause”, which I’ve written about before. If you’re as interested as I am in this clause and the relationship between EU law and our own constitution, you’ll want to read or perhaps watch the evidence given on Monday by Professors Paul Craig of Oxford University and Trevor Hartley of LSE, and today by Professors Anthony Bradley of Oxford, Trevor Allan of Cambridge and Adam Tomkins of Glasgow.

You can see the videos here and here. The Professors’ written evidence is here, and a transcript of the evidence of Professors Craig and Hartley is here.”

Justice with Michael Sandel

Hat Tip to Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform for drawing my attention to this fascinating website. “What’s the right thing to do?”

Is torture ever justified? Would you steal a drug that your child needs to survive? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? How much is one human life worth?  What do you think and why?  Take a frontrow seat at the first course Harvard has ever made available to everyone, online and on the air.

I think I am going to enjoy this from what I have seen so far…

And from Advanced Legal Studies @ Westminster

Representing Judges

This is an interesting post on the media representation of judges – well worth a look.

Garrow’s Law: Legal History

Obiter J, on his Law and Lawyers blog writes… “English law has a long and fascinating history.  As a subject, it is largely ignored in modern legal education.  This is a pity since there are many lessons to be learned.

The BBC Television series “Garrow’s Law” is proving to be very popular.  It is based on criminal trials which took place at The Old Bailey in the 18th century and highlights both the harshness of the system and the unfairness of the trial processes of the day.  The Old Bailey Online website makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1913, and of the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn, free of charge for non-commercial use……. ”

And finally… from Bitcher & Prickman…. always worth looking at!

Charon buys toaster Christmas present for DPM Clegg… possibly……

The Sun – NICK Clegg has told pals he “may be toast” in a year’s time – as the Lib Dems’ taste of power backfires on him.

The Sun

I have spent a happy half hour online looking at toasters.  I have never bought a Christmas present for a politician.  I think I should do so once… in the spirit of those *Things to do before one dies* articles which fill Sunday newspaper magazines….

I’m thinking a Delonghi.…. well… he hasn’t had Delonghi in the job to give his party a ‘Haircut’ in the polls…. why wait until next year?

Vermin in Ermine Breaking News: Newly elevated Tory idiot talks bollocks – suprised?

Howard Flight rapped by PM over ‘breeding’ gaffe

BBC: David Cameron has called on a new Conservative peer to apologise for saying welfare changes will encourage “breeding” among benefit claimants.Labour called Howard Flight’s comments “shameful” and said they showed the Tories were out of touch with people. Mr Cameron said he did not agree with Mr Flight’s words, adding: “I am sure he will want to apologise for them”. Mr Flight, a former Conservative deputy chairman, was named last week as one of more than 20 new Tory peers.

He told the London Evening Standard: “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive.

“But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”

So…another Tory makes a nasty remark.  They appear to have form…. and now this buffoon gets to sit the in The House of Lords…. astonishing. Makes one proud to be British…. not.

Oh…LOOK… here is another Tory keeping up a fine tradition…….

My response to a commenter on David Allen Green’s TwitterJokeTrial post

The News Statesman website obviously does not like either of the two email addresses I provided – which were both valid, despite the New Statesman saying they were not – perhaps old Labour statist ideals die hard?

Here is the post that I could not post on the New Statesman earlier – I won’t bother trying again as it really irritates me when websites *can’t get their shit together… I almost feel like blowing up!*  (Mea culpa… a very bad pun in the circumstances)

This is David Allen Green’s post and Mr Nandawar’s comment was in the comments section for that post

The Twitter Joke Trial carries on

Swatantra Nandanwar

Are you this person?  Are you promoting yourself and your political aspirations on the back of this important issue?

http://www.essexinfo.net/basildon-district-council/

If you are the politico – it might be useful for your future career in politics to have a good look at the issue and the intelligent comment and legal analysis  on David Allen Green’s Jack of Kent blog and elsewhere.   This is not to say that their views will be proved to be right – but I have always thought – before I use my knee and leg to kick a load of guff into the air, that it is best to have a good look at as much information as I can.

Let us have a look at what you wrote above….

“… thats a Blackmailers Charter! Contingent or not the threat was issued and Paul was rightly done. Any reasonble person or traveller would have assumed that ‘a plot’ might have been afoot. Unfortunately there are a lot of nutters out there, some genuine terrorists, some out for a laugh, and some plain angry who’ve lost it in the heat of the moment. But who knows what care capable of doing if cracked up.”

Actually….. I can’t be bothered to take your comment  seriously …..  because it appears to have been written by a wannabe scriptwriter for  Monty Python et al

…..fortunately, there are a lot of reasonable people ‘out there’ who can tell the difference between a real threat and a lot of nonsense on twitter – although, it has to be said, the judiciary, thus far, seem to agree with you.

Perhaps the High Court will take a different view?  Fortunately, our judges are not swayed by public opinion – a convention often observed, rather than merely adhered to, so it is not unreasonable for us to comment and give our view.

I just happen to think your view is not the right one.  If, however, you are not the politico on the make riding on the back of this… then I wish you well…. and hope that you don’t worry about getting on a plane, train or automobile.

In the meantime – good luck to Paul and best for the legal team.  I think I am still allowed to say things like this on a public forum in post-ironic Britain?

Legal Education Review: Where does the knowledge come from? by Prof Richard Moorhead

Legal Education Review: Where does the knowledge come from?

Professor Richard Moorhead writes:

It’s very early days. The SRA, BSB and ILEX’s IPS have announced the review. The LSB have indicated a desire that the review be as fundamental as the Ormerod Review from 1971. I do not know what shape the review is going to take. The College of Law has already come out of the blocks through its think-tank with proposals to do away with the training contract and parks an elegantly written tank on the University law school’s lawn with the suggestion that it should ‘advise’ law schools/law students of the options that students should take under a qualifying law degree. The Chair of the LSB has indicated the desirability of shorter training and more on the job training. There are proposals for aptitude tests at various stages of development from the Bar and the Law Society and also a report from the Law Society suggesting that ethics should be required as part of the degree training of solicitors. Some of these ideas I currently support and all of them merit debate but I want to stand back slightly, though, with a few key facts and a little horizon scanning. My first key fact is there are no key facts, or there are rather few of them…..

Professor Moorhead’s blog post is excellent and raises some very important points.

Professor Stephen Mayson of The Legal Services Institute (Funded by The College of Law) has a very detailed paper on The Education and Training of Solicitors: Time for Change – advocating, inter alia, the abolition of the training contract.

This is only the beginning… the regulators plan to review legal education… I have made a number of preliminary observations in these very broad brushed blog posts:

Law Review: Legal Regulator in CUT student debt by CUTTING study shock!

Breaking Shock Horror: The law is dominated by public school boys/girls… still!

Law Review: Law schools face crackdown as legal education goes under spotlight

As I don’t have kids and can’t clone myself… I thought a Statue *In Memoriam*

Quite how I managed to come up with the idea of cloning myself and buying some petri dishes on twitter this afternoon… I have no idea – save, that I had done a decent day’s work, having started at 3.30 am this morning as usual, and felt that I may as well have a couple of glasses of Lebanese red wine at Mazaar in Battersea Square this afternoon  ( an excellent caff where I take breakfast every day, cooked by chef proprietor Marlon who is  very amusing and smokes Marlboro Red) – a late lunch, if you will.

I also noticed that there is now a very large (and fine) Christmas tree in the square.  There will be lights, I am told. This was another reason to celebrate.

As I don’t have children and do not have any plans to have them… my thoughts turned to the end of my *Line* when I finally go to the great Bar in the sky…. My line, I can trace to…. the time of my ancestor Julius Charonus who invaded Britain covertly long before the days of CIA rendition flights.   I have, therefore, as my *legacy*,  amused myself by doing a working ‘construct’ for a sculpture…. of myself…. drawing, rather heavily it has to be said, on the work of another of my ancestors Charonangelo.

It is entirely possible, if I continue to drink Lebanese red, that I shall be making this sculpture later……as part of my December 2010 F**kART series – coming soon!

That is all.

Law Review:#Twitterjoketrial – Lawyers advertising on TV – Coulson’s imminent departure – Woman jailed for falsely retracting rape claim is freed

Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers to take appeal to high court

Guardian: Paul Chambers to appeal to high court over conviction for joke Twitter message about Robin Hood airport

This is a brave decision on the part of Paul Chambers. Lawyer,  David Allen Green (aka author of the Jack of kent blog) tweeted to say that the lawyers are doing this work at well below their usual rates.  If the team wins the case – the ‘other side’ will pay.  In this case – the ‘other side’ will be the government…or the tax payer.  It is, however, a very important case for all who use the internet to communicate whether through twitter, Facebook or blogs et al.  The Jack of Kent blog has the most comprehensive coverage of the background to s.127 and the proceedings so far.  Ben Emmerson QC, a heavyweight human rights lawyer, joins the team.

Author of Legal Futures, Neil Rose, is on a roll with some excellent articles recently in The Guardian and on his blog.  Today… this…

UK lawyers start to take TV advertising seriously

Guardian: Law firms are trying to build brand identity because there is business worth £15bn out there – and possibly more

Is this the future of lawyer advertising on our televisions? “If you and your spouse hate each other like poison and want to get out of the hellhole you call a marriage, you’ve come to the right place,” begins the advert from Steve Miller of DivorceEZ, a Florida law firm, concluding 30 seconds later: “You’re on your way to getting rid of that vermin you call a spouse.”

Right Solicitor?

Recently, I came across Right Solicitor. I liked their style and approach – offering potential clients the opportunity to ask a solicitor a question and get a speedy response.  In fact, I persuaded them to sponsor – for a modest fee – my free student materials on my online magazine Insite Law. I would have been more than happy to write about their service in any event – but I am quite happy to be open that they did help defray the costs of the free student materials on Insite as other sponsors do…

Briefly: Consumers simply submit a question at www.rightsolicitor.co.uk and will receive an email response within 60 minutes. Right solicitor panel Solicitors also agree to offer a free 15 minute follow-up consultation with no commitment to use the solicitor.

A government backed report, “Developing Capable Citizens”  – highlighted that “One-third of the population has experienced a civil justice problem, but many do nothing about it – often because they think, wrongly, that there is nothing they can do or that there is no local legal advice provider who might help… This extraordinary lack of understanding is a major reason why around one million civil justice problems go unresolved every year. This is legal exclusion on a massive scale.”

Paul Careless, CEO at RightSolicitor, commented “Consumer confusion reigns in UK legal services. The time is right for a consumer focussed legal service to allow people simple, friendly and timely access to the legal profession, through a brand they can trust; allowing customers to ‘try before they buy’. This is what RightSolicitor intends to achieve”

Coulson’s imminent departure is just the beginning

by Tom Watson: Andy Coulson will resign as Downing Street communications director within the next few weeks. When the moment comes, his powerful but embarrassed friends will breathe a sigh of relief. They want it to be the end of the phone hacking scandal. It is just the beginning.For, as any investigative journalist will tell you, it’s always the cover up that sinks you. Senior executives have been clinging onto the line that “Clive Goodman was a rogue reporter” like it was a life belt on the Titanic. The unanswered questions are pouring in.

There is a police investigation and at least three court cases. There are two Parliamentary enquiries on top of a damning report by the media select committee. There are whistleblowers. Insiders are breaking ranks, beginning to talk. Shareholders are asking questions. Coulson may be on his way, but the story won’t go away, despite hardly being reported in some of the best-selling newspapers.

Woman jailed for falsely retracting rape claim is freed

Guardian: Lord chief justice says there is important distinction between false allegation of rape and false retraction of rape allegation

A mother jailed for falsely retracting allegations that she had been raped six times by her husband was freed today on appeal.

There was an outcry earlier this month when the 28-year-old was sent to jail for eight months for perverting the course of justice after she decided to withdraw the rape allegations – not, she said, because they were false, but because her estranged husband and his sister had “‘emotionally blackmailed” her into doing so.

Ordering her immediate release today at the royal courts of justice, the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, said the judiciary had a duty of “compassion for a woman who has already been victimised”. Quashing her sentence, he instead gave her a community sentence and a supervision order for two years.

Seems to me to be a good bit of *judging* here…..

Duncan Bannatyne does it again…on Twitter… Oh dear!

It astonishes me how twitter can be so abusive… even if one disagrees with a point of view – there is just no call to tweet that someone else is a *phaedophile lover* – and coming from a BBC Dragon – quite shocking.  Then, encouraging his followers to report the tweeter for abuse? The legal issue regarding libel is, of course, a separate matter which I will not comment on.

All, it would seem, from what I can gather, because of ‘smoking in a car full of kids’.  I wouldn’t smoke near children – but….. I do not think that describing someone as a *phaedophile lover* on twitter is a pleasant thing to do either, when the person tweeting has so much twitter power.

Bannatyne blocked me some time ago – not that it bothers me – because I was critical and supported another tweeter who he was unpleasant to.  I don’t visit his gyms and I wasn’t critical of his business acumen…so assume he didn’t block me for not going to his gyms…I suspect he may have blocked me for these posts I did…

Duncan Genocide doesn’t seem to understand Twitter that well – a personal opinion…not a LIBEL!

Postcard from The Staterooms: Bananaskins edition

You can, of course, see the @andyburge tweets by following this link….

Andy Burge has just tweeted….21.30 pm 22 Nov 10

AndyBurge

ok everyone, I was wrong to swear at @duncanbannatyne .. he was wrong to call me “paedophile lover” hope you agree Duncan .. can we move on?

Seems sensible to me…..

Law Review: Legal Regulator in CUT student debt by CUTTING study shock!

In the finest tradition of English Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera the Legal Services Board Chairman, David Edmonds – who is neither lawyer nor educator (It would appear from his cv – not that that is an issue and may well be a benefit.  He has extensive commercial experience)  – has stepped into the fray by giving The Lord Upjohn lecture on the subject of legal education.

The central premise of his talk, reported on Legal Futures, appears to have been that having been told that legal education is not fit for purpose,  student debt could be cut by the simple solution of cutting the study time. No detail appears to have been provided. One resists the temptation to do a reductio ad absurdum.  He also appears to have thought that training lawyers in a similar fashion to the way accountancy firms train their accountants on the job may be a solution. I bet the big law firms just love that idea! They weren’t that keen when I did a review for Magic Circle firms on the LPC 10 years ago and one senior partner even told me…”We are lawyers, we lawyer… we are not legal educators” Interestingly, David Edmonds appears to have completely overlooked the fact that this route to qualification as a lawyer is well established through ILEX… but, be that as it may.

Further, given that The Bar is really a collection of individuals, one is a bit perplexed about the issue of barristers being trained using the accountancy firm modus operandi… but, be that, also, as it may.  Perhaps Mr Edmonds overlooked the Bar as well when he made his speech?

Legal Futures reports quotes from his speech….“He welcomed greater flexibility in postgraduate legal education, as well as delivery methods “that more closely align teaching to the demands of legal practice”, highlighting the need for “a constant interplay between practice and education”. He continued: “As student finance becomes ever more difficult, I really hope that we see this type of initiative being taken even further. For those leaving school and aiming for a legal career, we need to see the total length of time spent in education – and so the total amount of debt – shrink. This is linked to ensuring that students do not need to make crucial, and costly, investment decisions too early on, before getting a real ‘feel’ for the area of practice and all that it will involve.”

Legal Futures ends the coverage with this…. “The Legal Services Board is billing the review – which originally it intended to conduct itself – as “the most penetrating enquiry into the training needs of lawyers since the Ormrod review in 1971”

In the light of the foregoing it is probably just as well the SRA and the BSB are conducting the review.  I have reasonable confidence that the review will even consider the views of professionals in the field of legal education at both university and vocational stages – a divisional distinction which I shall keep for the present.

Being vaguely serious for just a moment… there is no doubt that student debt can be cut, not by shrinking the amount of study, but by changing the way that content is delivered.  We live in the age of the internet.  Not all teaching need be face to face… but.. the law schools, particularly the vocational law schools, won’t like the idea… it may, god forbid, lead to a cut in the fees being charged for the course – particularly if we are really clever about it and have one central set of materials and a central set of high quality recorded lectures and pick the best lecturers and practitioners to provide these recorded materials!

I end by reporting that I have just seen a large squadron of Pigs flying over The Thames  en route for Chancery Lane in Holborn.  “I love the smell of vested self interest in the morning”….said one pig.

Breaking Shock Horror: The law is dominated by public school boys/girls… still!

I like the H M Bateman cartoons.  The fact that he attended the same public school I did, albeit at different times, is interesting to me – because I did not know that.  Mind you…so did Miles Kington and he spoke Franglais far better than I can, now, speak French… to my shame.

The reference to a public school (Glenalmond in Scotland) is not puffery… but is deliberate..because it appears that *DownTurn Abbey* is alive and well in the law according to an article in Legal Week last week…..

New study highlights extent of public school bias among legal profession

Legal Week reports: Lawyers are more than seven times as likely to have been privately educated than the general population, according to new research.

A survey of almost 50,000 City professionals, conducted by legal recruitment consultancy Laurence Simons, found that 15% of lawyers were educated at the UK’s 250 public schools, compared to just 2% of the general population.

The figures add further weight to claims that social exclusivity in the legal sector is a problem that needs to be addressed.

From those surveyed, 2,717 (5%) had been educated at either Eton, Westminster or Winchester, with 830 of those (30%) going on to become lawyers.

The findings come after a report last year looking at fair access to the professions included a submission from the Sutton Trust stating that between 1988 and 2004, the proportion of magic circle partners aged under 39 who had been privately educated increased from 59% to 71%.

Laurence Simons director Jason Horobin said: “The figures paint a disturbingly regressive picture of the opportunities open to those wishing to get into law. Social exclusivity is rife in the industry.”

All I can say… is that it will only get worse – University fees are going up, the law school fees for the LPC and BPTC are *pacy* and committees are being set up to write *Diversity* reports faster than footballers and other celebrities can get superinjunctions down at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Articles like this both annoy and worry me – partly because statistics may well bear out practice.  The irony is that so much work has been done by the profession to encourage potential lawyers from all social backgrounds to consider law in the last twenty years – only for vocational law school fees now to be set at  £15k for a one year course which could probably be taught by distance learning and some face to face tuition at a lesser cost (I did discuss this concept with Lord Goldsmith in The House of Lords some years ago – and he was kind enough to show me some unusual wall paper in one of the ‘State Rooms’ – The ideas were not followed up – possibly because he was rather busy giving advice to HM Government on Iraq et al), and now, government fee plans for all degrees are rising so that it is becoming more  difficult for those from less wealthy backgrounds to consider going into law (and other fields of life?)

From what I know of this issue we can’t simply can’t point the finger at the law firms – they can only recruit those available to recruit. Lord Neuberger’s diversity report, a fine document, may not become a practical reality through simple economics rather than bias to a particular class? Scholarships and bursaries can only go so far….. realpolitik may well make it impossible to achieve greater diversity, no matter how keen the profession is to achieve it.