These men will eat you for lunch?: Too many lawyers – The unrelenting march to the privatisation of legal education

Soon, it will be the season for chucking mortar boards into the air as law students celebrate their success in securing the all important First or 2.1 degree to qualify them to join an ever growing list of contributors to the profits of the vocational law schools and join a list of highly qualified ‘legal technicians’, working for little above the minimum wage, if they can’t get that all important training contract or pupillage.

Professor Richard Moorhead, Cardiff Law School – a leading provider of the LPC – has argued that the over supply of LPC students is a temporary phenomenon.  He may well be right.  The data held by the law schools and the profession does not appear to be 100 ‘proof’ on this?

If Professor Moorhead is right, the legal profession is being remarkably short sighted should an upturn come in the economy within the next few years.  We may see a re-run of the scramble for young qualified lawyers of twenty years ago.

Paradoxically however, if Professor Moorhead is right, The Law Society and The Bar Standards Board are now investigating the issue of introducing an aptitude test for would be practitioners to stem the flow.  Quite apart from the potential redundancy of such a stunt – some would argue that a First or 2.1 in law demonstrates aptitude – such a test will add a further layer and  barrier to already burdened law students, potentially act as a barrier to their much vaunted diversity programmes and provide yet another opportunity for the law schools to provide assistance with ‘How To Pass The Aptitude test’ courses?

Reading Neil Rose’s article in The Guardian, where he argues that the profession will need more than an aptitude test to stem the flow of applicants for the profession, I was quite taken with one of the commenters who suggested that the law schools should only get their fee for tuition when the student obtains a training contract or pupillage.  One can almost see cornflakes or coffee being coughed all over the computer screen by law school CEOs if they bother to read such articles and comments.

See also: Professor Richard Moorhead – Should the Profession abandon its search for the G-spot? Aptitude Tests (Again)

The problem continues….

More good news for commentators on legal education?  The Guardian carried an article yesterday that BPP University College is in the frame to “launch a bid to run 10 publicly funded counterparts and  also plans to increase its own student intake tenfold by undercutting fees at public universities from next year.” I shall be returning to this issue when I do a podcast with Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School, on Friday.   The comments to the BPP story in The Guardian are most interesting.  Carl Lygo, CEO of BPP Holdings PLC, (pictured) will, no doubt, address the concerns of many commenters who are, perhaps, not quite so enthusiastic about this ‘plan’.

I’ll return to this latter issue when I have done my podcast with Peter Crisp.

The privatisation of legal and other education is underway.  Is this a good thing?  I suspect that many will take the view that it is not.  For the present, my own view is that the private education providers still need to consolidate their own reputations and ensure that their backers have the quality and resources to handle further development before rushing off to market and demonstrate how it should be done to the public sector.  You may be sure of one thing – they are on the way to increasing their reach into legal and other education for profit. Their profit. But that is how business works is it not?

I remember a front cover some years ago from Legal Business picturing well scrubbed lawyers on the front cover with the caption “These men will eat you for lunch”.  Mr Lygo has that lean and hungry look about him –  and, I suspect,  he knows how to do it!

5 thoughts on “These men will eat you for lunch?: Too many lawyers – The unrelenting march to the privatisation of legal education

  1. For as long as I can remember – now far too bloody long – the legal profession has been howling “no room!” in the manner of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. However it is plain that young wannabe lawyers are either being sold a false prospectus as to their chances or are taking no notice or a bit of both.

    The aptitude test sounds beyond parody. I look forward to setting up a course on how to pass it, thus enriching myself 😉

  2. rabbit – make sure you enrol on my ‘how to set up a course to assist others in passing the aptitude test’ course before you attempt your own venture. rates are very reasonable and you will have a job for life.

    bpp taking over running universities a good thing? yes – unless you or anyone you know wants to go to one. enrol on my ‘how to comment on a blog’ course to find out why!

  3. entirely off-thread, but charon, as your blog is a major focus for lots of us who wish to debate changes to the law,would you consider writing a post that opens the topic of the cuts to legal aid?

  4. Pingback: Law Review: Legal Aid – European Arrest Warrant – and… Planking « Charon QC

  5. Forget how to pass aptitude test courses, jump straight beyond it (over the shark in doing so) and patent cognition enhancing drugs to pass the test then maybe the powers that be can spend 10 years debating a doping test for would be candidates [insert sarcmark here for those unable to read between the lines]. or maybe, just maybe we should have a proper debate about the measure of capability beyond the slim niche of academia.

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