3 Cheers for Legal Apprenticeships!
Seek ye a career in law without going to university? Thou shalt now pass!
I’ve been a noisy advocate for apprenticeships for some time now and so it comes with great pleasure that I can now discuss that the Cameron-Clegg coalition government have announced plans that will see young people become lawyers without ever setting a foot in university.
The plans announced by the skills minister Matthew Hancock are part of a wider package of reforms which aim to promote and bring equality of esteem to work place learning. Minister Hancock in his statement had said that the UK economic recovery has been held back by negative social perceptions and stigmas that see apprenticeships as somewhat lesser to academic learning.
The move to embrace apprenticeships was prompted in large part by the Richard Review which was produced by businessman and Dragons’ Den personality Doug Richards. Importantly Doug Richards identified the large disparity of esteem and so has told the government that apprenticeships should have parity with degrees.
Another motivation to embrace apprenticeships has been Germany which enjoys a strong apprenticeship culture. Germany can also boast of having some of the lowest adult and youth unemployment figures in Europe. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable and education minister Michael Gove are also notable fans of workplace learning.
For those with ambitions of practicing law but who have their reservations about university, fees and the culture associated with academic learning these are undoubtedly great times.
For law practice in an age of change this latest development could easily be interpreted as scary. The legal profession is undergoing some pretty radical changes: a change in client and consumer expectations, a change in the economy, a shift in the traditional model of legal practice, a digital revolution and of course the Legal Services Act. These are all monumental changes, and so for another to come along so quickly many will have their reservations.
But for the law firm who dares, there could be reward. Certainly those law firms who push forward and take the plunge and so make the early investment could really reap rewards in later times.
And then for universities the latest news will bring extra competition in competitive and squeezed times. But that can only be a good thing; competition does after all raise standards and standards for many universities do need raised.
Speaking personally I spent 5 years reading books, sitting in class and imbibing and digesting lots of theory. And so when I left the walls of third level education I was at a loss. Employers wanted practical experience and professional skills. So workplace learning which teaches all the skills needed for on the ground law practice can only be a good thing.
Above is what barrister and Bar Professional Training Course tutor Ishan Kolhatkar had to say on the matter on Twitter. And hear, hear I say to that!
All in all a great policy development and evolution in society that can only be good for law practice, law schools and young people around the country.