Ed note: This is the latest post in the 'If I knew then what I know now' series, where leading members of the legal profession share their wisdom with the next generation of wannabes.
Ignorant and aimless, I spurned the opportunities I had been given only to fall in love with law by accident, writes President of the Chartered Institute Of Legal Executives Nick Hanning. I'd gained a scholarship to a top rank public school, and was supposed to try for Oxbridge, when rebellion struck and I abandoned home and school for squalid self-sufficiency...
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Over the weekend, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) president Nick Hanning was snapped shaking his booty with a belly dancer at the Junior Lawyers Division's (Moroccan-themed) annual dinner. The complex series of hand gestures employed by Hanning during his performance apparently left onlookers mystified.
Over Christmas, the announcement by minister for skills Matthew Hancock that school-leavers students will soon be able to become lawyers grabbed the national headlines.
At first, I assumed newspapers' enthusiasm for the story was based on the traditional festive lull. After all, only a few months earlier Hancock's colleagues in government had announced that they are to fund 750 new higher legal apprenticeships via a £1m investment.
Then I spotted the difference between the two pieces of news: Hancock was talking about training apprentices up as solicitors, while the apprentices whose funding was earmarked over the summer will become legal executives. I sense a storm brewing...
In comparison to our odd system of legal education – which sprawls haphazardly from the undergraduate law degree to the CILEX apprenticeship option, via the super-condensed GDL, multiple breeds of LPC and the career graveyard that is the BPTC – the US way of doing things is alluringly simple.
In America, you can only study law as a three-year postgraduate degree. At which point you sit a Bar exam. Then you’re a lawyer. The downside is the inflexibility, slow pace and high cost (over £30,000 a year in fees alone at the top US law schools)...
There’s more evidence of the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality that is coming to define this government in the ‘Unleashing the British Underdog: 10 Bets on the Little Guy’ report published by Dominic Raab MP today.
In the patronisingly-titled paper, the Oxbridge-educated former magic circle lawyer argues that it’s time to expand non-graduate opportunities in law because university is “expensive” and “devalues vocationally minded talent”.
Raab adds: "More broadly, we should ditch the snobbery that says you must go to university to be successful."
At the end of the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) symposium yesterday, I got chatting with Linda Jotham, a senior lecturer at City Law School.
As I groaned about the difficulties facing the LETR panel in coming up with a new system of legal education that keeps everyone happy – we’d just sat through a debate featuring solicitors, barristers, legal executives and academics who could hardly agree on anything – Jotham surprised me.
She told me that the earlier discussion group she'd been part of had come up with a win-win solution (based on an idea mooted by LSE's Julia Black).
Here it is...