Law Society’s Report on Council Fair Access Discussions

The following text is taken from the Law Society’s own summary of the discussions at Council from their e-bulletin dated 3 April 2013.  A copy of the Society’s press release on the subject of fair access is also linked by the e-bulletin.  It should be noted that the Society’s report does not reflect that the proposals and paper were jointly submitted by the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association (SYLA) and the Trainee and Newly Qualified (TANQ) Society, rather than being a sole initiative of CFALP.

A copy of the paper is published here and CFALP would welcome comments via the blog, our twitter account @CFALP1 or on the discussion on the Law Society’s LinkedIn group.

Council Meeting, 22 March 2013

Fair access to the profession

The Society is to give more detailed consideration to proposals put forward by the Campaign for Fair Access to the Legal Profession (CFALP).

Tim Haddow, from CFALP, presented a paper to Council members. Society Vice President Bruce Beveridge paid tribute to the campaign group and for the “rich debate” that took place at the Council meeting.

The CFALP paper asked the Council to:

  • adopt a policy aim that the route to qualification as a solicitor should not depend on someone’s ability to fund their own education and training
  • establish a review to identify and evaluate options for reforming the route to qualification
  • lobby the Scottish Government to extend means-tested maintenance loans to Diploma students
  • instruct the Society to monitor and report on the socio-economic diversity of the profession

The paper said: “All with the ability, character and motivation to be lawyers should be able to compete equally and on merit to enter the profession.

“Personal or family economic circumstances should not be a factor working to exclude those from less privileged backgrounds.

“This is not just good business sense; a more diverse and representative profession will provide better access to justice and underpin a legal system that recognises and balances the needs and interests of all sectors of society.”

Tim Haddow argued that the cost of qualifying as a solicitor was presenting a barrier to entering the profession, particularly for those from less privileged backgrounds.

Council members praised CFALP for raising awareness of the issue of access to the profession.

Past President Cameron Ritchie commended the group’s paper and said it should now start a debate on the issue.

The meeting agreed that the Society’s Education and Training Committee will now consider the CFALP proposals in more detail and report back to the Council in April. The Society introduced a revised route to qualification as a solicitor in 2011 following a wide-ranging review and extensive consultation.

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