7.1 The LETR research has drawn together an extensive evidence base of both primary and secondary data to inform recommendations on ensuring that LSET is fit for the future. . In this final chapter the report offers information and guidance that will support the approved regulators in developing strategy and policy designed to protect standards, assure competence, foster flexibility and promote access and mobility.
7.2 This is a detailed task. The preceding chapters have described evidence gathered during the research phase. They have recounted the views of students, law teachers and trainers, as well as the views of legal sector employers and consumers or consumer representatives. They have identified and explained good educational practice, based on research and literature from the UK and internationally, across a range of professional fields, and have sought to synthesise this information into a set of conclusions and recommendations for the future.
7.3 The relative failure of previous reports to make substantial changes to LSET has often reflected an inability to mobilise the support of key stakeholders, despite the excellence of many of those reports and no lack of endeavour in the attempts to institute reforms. As this report shows, many of the themes to be addressed by LETR are not new. The impasse needs to be resolved.
7.4 The research phase has spent considerable time empirically investigating what a wide range of stakeholders thought was right or wrong with the current LSET system. Research was then carried out with all those involved to identify what they thought would be acceptable in terms of changes. A wide range of views was expressed. It became clear that removing some significant parts of the system such as training contracts and pupillages would not be acceptable. Often participants said ‘If it is not broke; don’t fix it’.
7.5 The recommendations in this report are therefore designed as part of a socially robust, long- term, approach to a limited number of deeply embedded problems. Their primary purpose is to set up a longer-term set of structures and relationships which will work to deal with difficulties in the system in a much more co-operative, ‘co-regulatory’ way, building upon real evidence and greater transparency.
7.6 This chapter focuses on the key conclusions and consequent recommendations from the research team. These proposals are aimed at preparing LSET for a more liberalised legal services market. It is likely to be a market in which the traditional professions of solicitor and barrister will continue to play a significant role, though perhaps one less central than currently. For some new organisations the workforce structure could comprise a smaller core of qualified individuals surrounded by a set of paralegals, trainees of one kind or another, and support staff. New business entities geared to exploit economies of scale may become more important in specific spheres. In the corporate sphere, new technologies, outsourcing, demand for restructured services and other new ways of working will also be transforming the world of practice.
7.7 Society will require a legal services sector grounded on an LSET system that is capable of delivering quality, access and mobility, in a flexible and responsive way.