I love the smell if ILEX in the morning, says legal futures Neil Rose. Well not really, but he does explore (as simultaneously does Alex Aldridge) whether the idea of apprenticeship without a law degree is making a come back. It’s good to see new interest in routes into the profession which are more open but I think we’d be mistaken in thinking that such schemes are going to lead a major change in the make-up of the legal profession. The straight from school apprenticeship will never be the mainstay of qualification into the solicitors profession. It may well provide a useful carrot to entice able youngsters to take on and then be retained in paralegal roles; many could then make decent solicitors but the profession at large is unlikely to move away from graduate recruitment. Why? Because the profession needs to compete for people with the best intellectual ability. It needs to do so because of the demands of the job. And it needs to do so because it is competing with other occupations for its elite professional status. As a general rule, the best entrants into the profession will be found amongst university graduates. That’s not to say the best lawyers can not be found amongst apprentices but it does mean they are less likely to be. Student fees will have only a marginal impact on that. Future lawyers will still predominantly be graduates.
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