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The bell tolls for the training contract?

Unless you happen to be the kind of person who reads the smaller stories in the legal press ( and yes, I am that person!) then it may have escaped many that the Solicitors Regulation Authority have announced that paralegals who have passed a legal practice course (LPC) may now qualify as a solicitor without the need to complete a formal training contract. Clearly not ground breaking news in the scheme of human existence but nevertheless a very important change to the process of legal training in this country.

As a recruiter in to the private practice sector within London, I deal with all levels of recruitment and this does include paralegals, NQ’s and those generally on the first rungs of the ladder of a legal career. For many years now the availability and the worth of a training contract has been sadly eroded and, particularly within a sector such as Personal Injury, most of the more ‘junior’ roles are being filled by long term paralegals. For these young lawyers the news that they have a path to qualification is to be welcomed although it does leave the training contract and the tried and tested method of post LPC training in a little bit of turmoil.

The proposed changes are set to cause some heated debate within the legal profession and the Law Society have urged that the SRA ‘consult properly’( which generally means that some within the law will be outraged, most will ignore it and nothing will happen!).The most vocal within the profession see this step as an important move towards ‘de – professionalising’ the law.

In London law firms this has not been a sudden move but a very gradual process which has seen City firms adopt their own training processes at one end of the spectrum whilst smaller , commodity practices such as those in PI scrap the process altogether. It has been coming for a long time and for many the Law Society and the SRA have kept too much of a watching brief.

For the ‘lawyer to be’ who I can assist as a paralegal or as an NQ( whilst that remains), the right career path is confusing and one fraught with a number of paths to take. I enjoy helping an advising some very dedicated, hard working people. Getting the right path for them is one of the joys of recruitment and I hope that we soon get some better light to guide them.

For more information please visit our website BCL Legal.

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