The LETR is a wide ranging review of the legal education and training requirements of individuals and entities delivering legal services.
The review was established at a time of unprecedented change for the legal profession – caused by economic and technological change, market liberalisation and dramatic funding reforms – to survey the current state and future requirements of legal services education and training (LSET).
An independent research team is delivering a report for the three principal legal regulators: the SRA, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards.
The three regulators commissioned the report because they recognised that, in a rapidly changing legal services market, it is important to ensure that lawyers are properly trained and competent.
What are LETR’s key research objectives?
Key objectives of the research have been to:
- understand the skills, ethical framework and level of competence that will be needed by future lawyers;
- consider the education and training needed to ensure those skills and competence;
- find out the extent to which regulators should set and oversee detailed educational standards.
The research provides an evidence base which the regulators can use to plan any reforms.
Who is the research team?
In late 2010 the SRA, Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards awarded the LETR research contract to the UKCLE Research Consortium, led by Professor Julian Webb of the University of Warwick. Research started in June 2011. Members of the research team include Avrom Sherr, Woolf Professor of Legal Education, and Professor Jane Ching of Nottingham Trent University, both of whom are practising solicitors.
The research team has been advised by the Consultation Steering Panel, comprising a range of representatives of legal professionals, e.g. the Law Society. The co-chairs, Dame Janet Gaymer and Sir Mark Potter, are both well respected and widely experienced legal practitioners.
The research was carried out by UKCLE Research Consortium between June 2011 and May 2013.
Research methods included: a literature and policy review; qualitative research involving interviews and focus groups with 307 academics, students, practitioners and others; a quantitative survey of 1,128 legal professionals and academics; as well as online surveys of will-writers and careers advisers. The research team was also provided with access to data collected by the Legal Services Board on the consumer experience of legal services.
What has happened recently?
The research stage of the Review concluded at the end of 2012, and the final report was delivered to the three regulators in early June 2013.
The three regulators wanted to ensure that the evidence base is comprehensive and wide-ranging. This took longer than initially anticipated, but the regulators were not prepared to sacrifice quality simply to meet the original deadline.
The Boards of the three commissioning regulators received the report during scheduled June meetings. The report was published on the 25 June. The report is available from LETR website in both HTML and PDF versions together with supporting evidence and references.
What will happen next?
IPS and CILEx have issued press releases in response to the publication of the final report. You can read the press releases here.
During July interested parties will be able to view the report as an ‘e-book’, and a version for mobile devices will also be made available.
The regulators will consider the report’s findings and recommendations. It is a matter for each regulator to decide how to respond to the report and what work will be needed to deliver any reforms.
The SRA has indicated that they will publish a full policy statement in response to the LETR report later in the year setting out the key points of this programme of work. Any reforms will not happen overnight – and they will involve wide scale engagement with stakeholders, including formal consultation. They see the LETR report as the beginning, not the end of the process.
Similarly, the Bar Standards Board say they will be considering the recommendations more fully.
Both IPS and CILEx will be considering the report in detail during the next few months.