Portsmouth Business School

Innovation in the Qualifying Law Degree

Changes to the Legal Services Market

Legal education

Caroline Strevens

The Issue

The legal services market is undergoing rapid change because of the partnership model of delivering legal services is being supplanted by alternative business structures under which non lawyers can own and control legal service provision. This has contributed to more intensified competition between firms and new entrants to the market for legal services. What does this competition mean for the composition of the legal profession and thus for legal education? What will it mean to be a practising “lawyer”?

Underpinning Research

The research has constructed models of legal education that respond to the altered professional context. Caroline has investigated how the range of careers open to those with legal knowledge and research skills will alter and how academic and professional legal education should be reformed. The first phase of this work was published in the International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management in 2004. The implications for University legal education were developed and explored in Strevens, D, Welch, C and Welch, R, “On-line legal services and the changing legal market: preparing law undergraduates for the future”, (2011) 45 The Law Teacher 328. In Strevens, C, “The changing nature of the legal services market and the implications for the qualifying law degree”, (2011) Web Journal of Current Legal Issues 1 she developed her argument so as to present a case for revised means of acquiring qualifications for legal practice. Her central argument was HEIs and professional bodies must respond by providing a revised curriculum and practicable, alternative routes to professional qualification.

Impact of Research

Caroline’s work influenced the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to introduce the fast-track Diploma, which enables law graduates, as an alternative to the LPC, to ‘earn and learn’ en route to qualification as a solicitor.