It’s never as simple as it seems

In her recent  Editor’s Picks A grim picture for aspiring lawyers Catrin Griffiths, Editor of The Lawyer writes,

With newly-qualified retention rates at the major law firms patchy at best, training as a solicitor isn’t the safe option it was. Taken with the news that the major BPTC providers have hiked their fees again, is the best qualification for a legal career to have wealthy parents?

To which you might add, given the changes that the legal profession is likely to see in the next ten years, why would anyone thinking about training as a solicitor see it as a safe option anyway?

Today’s issues may be the apparent manipulation by City firms of their NQ retention rates (although as the comments suggest, this is not particularly new) and the problems facing LPC and GDL providers (Oxford Brookes being only the latest – Southampton Solent University, the universities of Sunderland, East London and Wolverhampton and Sheffield Hallam University all stopped teaching the GDL in 2011). But if you are about to invest a great deal of time (yours), effort (yours) and money (yours or your parents) in training for a career in the law, shouldn’t we (universities, law firms, the Law Society, the Regulator) all be a bit more honest not just about what that career may involve but what it may not. It is all too easy to duck this; and simply to say, “We don’t know”. You may not buy in to the full Richard Susskind vision of the future for law firms (although I happen to think that he is likely to be more right than not) but what we do know for sure is that the future will not be more of the same (even if many law firms seem to think it may be).



One thought on “It’s never as simple as it seems

  1. George

    As someone who has read Richard’s latest book, I don’t feel that it goes far enough. The world of work is changing, and law, as the profession is finding out, is not immune. The trouble is that the system is stacked against the budding lawyer getting any honest insight to the problems ahead. It is not in the interest of the Universities to portray a profession in terminal decline nor the Profession itself. As crass as it may sound, it feels a bit like the Titanic disaster where everyone, pretty much, is closing their eyes to the inevitable crash. If I was entering the field of law now, I would have very different expectations to when I joined in 1992. I wouldn’t aspire to partnership but as likely would look at opening my own practice with an all round commercial approach where I lived and breathed the clients’ interests and not mine! Even if I wasn’t that bold I would make sure that I understood how a business ran – P&L, people management and sales – and didn’t look to learn on the job, particularly from a cohort who are running scared from what lies ahead. It’s not all doom and gloom but law is not the pot of gold it once was and people, much like medicine, have to think if they really do want to serve others for the rest of their life.

    Thanks for raising the issue.

    Best wishes

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