Regulatory Reform in England and Wales – An Opportunity to Embed CLE further into the Law Curriculum?

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Abstract

Legal education and training in England in Wales is facing the most significant reform for 30 years. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body for solicitors, is proposing to introduce centralised assessments (both knowledge and skills based) and to allow work experience undertaken outside of a traditional training contract, including in a student law clinic, to count towards the period of qualifying work experience (QWE) required to qualify as a solicitor. The move to centralised assessments is primarily for quality control and consumer protection purposes. The more flexible, reconceptualised, approach to QWE is underpinned by a desire to remove barriers into the profession and to encourage diversity. These proposed reforms mean universities are currently in the process of reviewing their curricula.

At least 70% of law schools in the UK currently undertake some form of clinical work or pro bono and it has been suggested that the reforms will lead to clinical legal education (CLE) being more integrated into law degrees and that law schools that have already embraced CLE appear best placed to adapt to the proposed changes. There appears to be two ways law clinics could be used to adapt to these changes. Firstly, universities may decide that existing or expanded CLE provision should count towards the formal period of QWE. If they decide to do this, such experiences will not automatically count, they will have to consider if their arrangements for supervision and sign off are in line with the SRA’s requirements. Secondly, law schools are likely to be considering how such clinical programmes might also help students to develop the competencies required to pass the proposed Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) stage 2 practical skills exams. These will test: client interviewing; legal research; legal drafting; advocacy/persuasive oral communication; case and matter analysis. Legal clinics, focused on the practical application of the law to real life legal problems and skill development, appear to be natural SQE Stage 2 preparation environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2018
EventEuropean Network of Clinical Legal Education Conference: ENCLE 2018 - Turin, Turin, Italy
Duration: 20 Sep 201821 Sep 2018
http://www.encle2018torino.unito.it/en

Conference

ConferenceEuropean Network of Clinical Legal Education Conference
CountryItaly
CityTurin
Period20/09/1821/09/18
Internet address

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