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Legal educators in the U.S. aren’t the only ones struggling to adapt to the changes in the legal profession. The three largest professional regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom announced on Nov. 19 a joint review of legal education and training. The review is a collaboration between the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards and the Bar Standards Board. The effort has the support of the Legal Services Board — the independent body created in 2007 to oversee the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales. “This is an important piece of work,” institute chairman Alan Kershaw said in a written statement. “It will bring together the work to determine how well the current arrangements will fit the new landscape, which individual regulators have already begun.” Like the United States, the United Kingdom faces an oversupply of new lawyers. The Law Society of England & Wales, which represents solicitors, launched a campaign during the summer of 2009 to warn students about the potential drawbacks of a legal career. Its figures show that 7,000 students completed the legal practice course in 2008 to become a solicitor, but only 6,000 training contracts were available. (The training is required to qualify as a solicitor, which is an attorney who does not go into court). The Bar Council, which represents barristers (litigators), has also noted that the number of students enrolling in its training courses far outpaces available training positions. According to a press release from the Bar Standards Board, the review will look at the likely shape and demands of the legal industry in 2020, as well as technological changes. The review will also examine the need for “high quality, competitive legal services and education and training providers and high ethical standards for lawyers and legal services entities.” Diversity and changes to higher education will also be addressed. The groups involved in the review plan to name an external research team in February and produce policy findings. “Much of the recent focus of regulatory activity has been on reforming the structures for regulating businesses,” said authority chief Executive Antony Townsend. “This review will ensure that serious thought, based on thorough research and comprehensive consultation with all interested parties, is now given to education and training.”

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