Following the public announcement early last month, word is gradually getting around that the “UKCLE Research Consortium” will be undertaking the research for the regulator-funded review of legal education and training that is taking place in England and Wales. Needless to say I’m very excited to be involved in what is being billed as the largest review since the 1971 Ormrod Report – and also very aware of the challenges of such a complex project.
No doubt that it is going to be a big job. Our remit is to look at the changes that are shaping the legal services market in the wake of the Legal Services Act 2007, and assess their implications for future legal education and training needs. We are currently still involved in a lot of the planning and ‘backroom’ stuff that a project on this scale requires, but we are aiming to start research ‘proper’ in July. We are scheduled to complete the whole project in November 2012. A lot of the research will involve traditional empirical analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, but we are also planning to make extensive use of technology to support and open up the project. There will be a dedicated website, which, as a research team, we want to use as a tool to encourage participation and engagement with what we’re doing. I hope we can make it a different, more inclusive way of doing a review, which given both the consumer dimension, and the importance of the equality and diversity agenda, is important.
We have a top-flight team of researchers engaged in the project – Avrom Sherr (IALS, London), Paul Maharg (Northumbria), and Jane Ching (NTU – pictured here with me, Dame Janet Gaymer and Sir Mark Potter, the Co-Chairs of the Review Consultation Steering Panel), are the other institutional leads. We also have Chris Decker (Oxford Regulatory Policy Institute & CSLS), Rob Wilson (Warwick Institute for Employment Research) and the incomparable Richard Susskind as consultants. I’m sure there will be those who don’t think we are quite the right people for the job. I hear murmurs already from some in the profession that we are too academic, and from some academics that we are too close to the profession! Maybe that level of contradiction at least indicates that we are what we’re supposed to be: independent.