Regulator proposes end of solicitor and barrister education monopolies
The Law Society of Ireland and the King’s Inns should not have a monopoly on training solicitors and barristers, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) has suggested in a new report.
In its 105-page report, the legal regulator called for the development of a clear definition of the competence and standards required to practise as a solicitor or barrister and the establishment of a new and independent legal practitioner education and training (LPET) committee.
The proposed new committee would develop standards for legal practitioner education and training and would scrutinise and accredit new providers of legal education and training, effectively breaking the long-standing monopolies.
Ireland’s biggest law firms, Arthur Cox and A&L Goodbody, backed the end of the Law Society’s training monopoly in their respective submissions to the regulator.
Welcoming the publication of the report, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “I am determined that there should be more equity and diversity in access to the legal professions and in their education and training structures. I will work with the LSRA to develop policies to achieve this.
“We must address those financial and administrative barriers that aspiring lawyers continue to face at the outset of their careers for once and for all. We need a more open legal services sector to support our open economy in a way which can be to the mutual benefit to both citizens and enterprise in their access to justice.”
The minister also announced that she has asked the LSRA to further consider the economic and other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors, including the remuneration of trainees, the costs associated with joining the professions, available information and issues like the provision of maternity leave.
The LSRA has been asked to pay particular attention to equity of access and entry into the legal professions, and the objective of achieving greater diversity within the professions.
Ms McEntee said: “In so doing, I hope that the Authority will be able to engage appropriately with all relevant stakeholders. In particular with university law students, those students currently in the Kings Inns and the Law Society, and newly qualified members of both professions, as well as more long-standing members of both professions and their representative bodies.”