SRA chief promises “a bonfire” of unnecessary regulations in legal education & training

The Westminster Forum on the LETR ended today with Antony Townsend CEO of the SRA declaring an imminent “bonfire” of regulations on legal education & training.  He promised to strip away regulations which inhibit access to the professions, including abolishing the requirement to issue a Certificate of Completion of the academic stage of training.

After a morning of speeches and discussions about the need for change, the audience was delighted by promises of real action from the SRA.  Three headlines were announced:

  1. An end to “one-size fits all” education and training.  A range of paths into the professions are to be encouraged based on the skills & knowledge that employers require.
  2. The tick box approach to cpd “will go”, to be replaced by a strategy for continuing competence.
  3. A  “bonfire” of unnecessary regulation was enthusiastically predicted.

Townsend kindled a blast of energy at the conclusion of the event.  Some aspects of legal education, he said, are just “not good enough”.  One factor took the edge off the force his address; decisions will follow a period of consultation and will be finalised “late next year”.  However, given the tone and force of the announcements the intention is clearly that sparks will fly.

Appearing on the same platform as Simon Thornton-Wood from the BSB, Townsend declared that the two regulators are working closely together to address change following LETR recommendations.  Challenged from the floor to generate plans together, rather than comparing notes retrospectively, the two insisted that they are working in partnership.  “Our destination is the same,” Thornton-Wood insisted, “and our methods of arriving there need to converge”.

NJ at LETR     Nicola contributing to the LETR Symposium, July 2012

The LETR Report was met with some ambivalence when it was published in June.  The most prevalent criticism being that it should have been bolder in its recommendations.  My view has always been that the professions would have reacted badly to being told what to do.  The LETR has done its job: it has forced the regulators to act.  Now the legal professions must use education and training to create an agile, motivated workforce which can deliver excellent service and protect the rule of law.

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