The Junior Lawyers Division (“JLD”) is a division of the Law Society of England and Wales, which represents the interests of over 70,000 members, including Legal Practice Course (“LPC”) students, LPC graduates, trainee solicitors and solicitors up to five years post-qualified. The LPC is typically a one year academic course, based largely on legal practice, which individuals must complete in England and Wales prior to qualifying as a solicitor, and is often taken before the two year “training contract” (although the requirements are different if you are qualified abroad).
The legal profession in England and Wales faces a number of challenges at the moment. The types of challenges, and the extent of those challenges, varies depending on where lawyers are located, and their area of practice.
Legal aid funding in England and Wales has been significantly cut, which means that a decreasing number of junior lawyers are able to find a career in legally aided practice areas. The cuts – and consequences of the cuts – represent a worrying barrier on access to justice for those who are from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
There are several regulatory issues which have arisen over the past couple of years, due to a significant programme of reform which is underway by our regulator, which is set to change the education and training of lawyers in England and Wales. This has started some interesting discussions over the future of education and training.
Above this, we also see an oversupply of law graduates compared to graduate jobs available, which means we have a very competitive marketplace.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of topical issues faced by young lawyers in England and Wales, but it does represent a few of the issues which are presently of key importance to the profession.
The legal profession here is overall incredibly blessed, and it is a privilege to be a solicitor in England and Wales. There is no doubt that the English and Welsh jurisdiction remains strong on the international market. Part of that is likely to relate to the great education and training that we have in England and Wales, which is why the JLD and others work so hard to ensure that changes made to the system are carefully considered before implementation. So far, we have been successful in ensuring that changes made are for the better and don’t affect our overall global competitiveness.
Chair, Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales