30 recommendations to improve access, innovation and streamline solicitor education.
The Law Society of Ireland has today (Wednesday 21 November 2018) launched the Peart Commission Report, developed by an expert group chaired by Mr Justice Michael Peart of the Court of Appeal. The report contains 30 recommendations setting out a vision for the future of solicitor training in Ireland.
“Training solicitors to meet any and all challenges they will face in their careers is some of the most important work the Law Society does,” said Law Society of Ireland Director General Ken Murphy. “The Law Society’s education model is deeply rooted in the public interest and focussed on the future.”
“Today’s client is more knowledgeable and tech-savvy than ever before. The Law Society’s vision is to train 21st century solicitors who will meet and exceed the exacting requirements of their clients and their firms.”
Access, innovation, streamlining
The Commission’s recommendations fall under three main themes.
- Increasing access to the profession:
Innovation in education:
- More funding will be made available for the Law Society’s Access programme. This programme pays fees and maintenance for students from a background of socio-economic disadvantage. Almost 100 solicitors have qualified through this programme and the Law Society is committed to making more places on it available to students.
- A part-time training course will also be provided for those wishing to qualify as solicitors in the future. This will enable people working full-time or who have childcare or other commitments to train as a solicitor
Streamlining the established training model:
- The Law Society’s current successful use of digital educational technology will be further developed. Modern skills, abilities and learning dispositions for success – “skills for 2020 and beyond” – will be integrated into the training course.
- A new Centre for Teaching, Development and Innovation will be created, bringing together learning and development, technology, psychological services and innovation for trainee solicitors
- The current two-part “sandwich course”, known as PPC I and PPC II, will be changed into a more streamlined, single course.
Independent international review
The Peart Commission was convened to develop specific actions following an independent root-and-branch review of the Law Society’s pre-qualification training by a team of international experts.
That review, conducted by Professor Paul Maharg (York University, Ontario), Professor Jane Ching (Nottingham Law School) and educational consultant Jenny Crewe, was commissioned in anticipation of Section 34 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, relating to legal education.
The Maharg Report found many aspects of the Law Society’s current educational model to be impressive on an international level and found that “some aspects of initial professional education provision are ahead of the field in legal services education.”
The Maharg Report found that the Law Society’s use of online diplomas and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was “particularly innovative”. The annual Law Society MOOC provides free legal education annually to 4,000 global participants on topics such as sports law, aviation law and more.
It also commended the Law Society’s integration of well-being initiatives, noting that the “public interest is more important to the Law Society than commercial gain.”
Committed to innovation in legal education
“Implementing the Peart Commission recommendations will have several benefits,” said Ken Murphy. “It will further increase access to the profession for trainees across diverse educational, professional and socio-economic backgrounds and ensure the Law Society maintains its prominent position as an innovative professional legal educator globally.”
“The Society is already leading the way in its progressive, award-winning use of technology in education. We are committed to expanding our focus on innovation beyond technology and into all aspects of legal education and practice.”
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