legal proffessiion

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The Legal Profession
In English law the legal profession is divided into solicitors and
barristers, with the analogy of the medical profession often used to
justify this division- solicitors being the `general practitioners' and the
barristers being the `consultants'. This analogy is somewhat misleading
as there is a degree of overlap and many solicitors specialise in
certain areas of the law. The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990
and The Access to Justice Act 1999 brought about equal rights of
audience between barristers and solicitors. Solicitors acquired full
audience rights when admitted to the role, though will only be able to
exercise these on completion of a training period.
Prior to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, barristers were
generally the only people with advocacy rights in the superior courts.
As a consequence of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and the
Access to Justice Act 1999, barristers are increasingly competing
with solicitors for advocacy work.
NB: Not all barristers work as advocates. Like solicitors, many are
employed by industry, the government and advice agencies.
Traditionally, a client could not approach a barrister directly, but had
to see a solicitor first, who would then refer the case to a barrister.
However, some clients preferred to approach a barrister directly.
Since 1989, barristers have been allowed to receive instructions
directly from certain professionals, such as accountants and
engineers. There is also a scheme, BarDIRECT, under which
individuals and organizations, such as police forces and insurers, may
be approved by the Bar Council to instruct barristers directly. Since
2003, barristers have been allowed direct access to clients to
undertake advisory and advocacy work without the client needing to
go through the intermediary of a solicitor. [See Clementi Report]
Education and Training of Solicitors
o Students with a degree in a discipline other than law have to
take a one year course leading to the Common Professional
Examination (CPE)

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Following a law degree (or CPE) is the one year legal Practice
course (LPC). This is to equip them with practical skills such as
advocacy and procedures.
o After the LPC course, prospective solicitors must complete a
two year training contract/ apprenticeship.
o During the two year training contract the trainee solicitors
undertake courses in practical skills.
o They are then admitted to the Law Society Roll.…read more

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Education and Training of Barristers
o If the initial degree is not in Law, potential barristers must
complete a one year course leading to the Common Practice
o After joining one of the four Inns of Court:
Inner Temple
Middle Temple
Gray's Inn
Lincolns Inn
Students take a one year Bar Vocational Course (BVC). Until
1997 the BVC was only available at the Inns of Court School of
Law in London.…read more

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Each Inn runs advocacy training courses for their pupils. These
vary in format and length and combine advocacy training with
lectures on particular areas of law or forensic skills.
o Additionally each Inn has student societies and supports
involvement in debating activities which range from internal
events to inter- Inn, national and international competitions. The
students organise their own social events through their Inn's
student association and some Inns also support sporting
societies.…read more

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Solicitors are also able to apply for the rank of Queen's
Counsel as a result of the recent legislation and higher audience
o In 2005 changes to the selection system for QC's were
introduced with the aim of widening the number eligible to apply.
o The new independent selection system replaces a much
criticised procedure that relied heavily on the Lord Chancellor
taking "secret soundings" from senior legal figures.…read more


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