Report on Lecture by visiting Professor at City University London, Stephen Hockman QC:
Legal Services Reform: the impact on the Bar - 5th October 2011.
Mention legal services reforms and you will definitely catch the attention of any barrister or solicitor in the room. And chances are, he or she will have plenty to say on the subject, as did visiting Professor at City University, Stephen Hockman QC, who offered a fascinating insider’s view of this red-hot topic in legal circles.
Since the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 and the Bar’s revised Code of Conduct, barristers have wondered what their future will look like in a post-Clementi environment filled with economic concerns. Especially now that the traditional boundary between barristers’ and solicitors’ work has been crossed, with barristers being able to carry out a solicitor’s work.
Stephen Hockman tells us that the route to successfully integrating in these circumstances lies in the hands of barristers themselves. While regulation only establishes a minimum standard, “in the end, the only way in which a client can be guaranteed a good service from his lawyer is if that lawyer is sufficiently well-trained and motivated to provide the required level of service.”
In view of Bar Standards Board (BSB) decisions, many unanswered questions are foremost in many a barrister’s mind. Questions of whether the Bar Council will agree to amend its constitution so that it can become an entity regulator and if so, which entity will it decide to regulate? Will the Bar in chambers decide to emulate solicitors in adopting partnerships as the predominant practice mode and what effect will this have on the ethos of personal responsibility? And if members of the Bar decide to practice in LDP rather than in Chambers or in bar-only partnerships in significant numbers, what long-term effects will this have on the Bar Council in its regulatory role?
Understanding student finance can be as challenging as finding it. For undergraduate students there is much available from government sources: see the guides on DirectGov and the City University website. Postgraduate Student Finance is much more interesting. Whether you’re looking to complete a Graduate Diploma in Law, or intending to qualify to the Bar, there are various funding sources available.
The obvious initial pool to apply to is that of scholarships, both within your Law School (here's City's information on Awards) and the University’s central Student Centre (again here's the information for City students).
For would-be solicitors, the Law Society has two schemes offering funding support for the LPC including the Law Society Bursary Scheme (for those who can "demonstrate exceptional academic ability and potential as a solicitor") and the Law Society Diversity Access Scheme for those who need to overcome exceptional obstacles to qualify as a solicitor. It is unconfirmed whether these schemes will continue into 2012 but an announcement is likely to be made in January 2012. The Law Society page on funding also gives an overview of other options, including the Graham Rushton Award for visually impaired students and several Trusts set up to help those seeking to qualify.
What about barristers? The Inns of Court offer various scholarships for those looking to study the GDL or BTPC: Grays Inn (GDL, BTPC), Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Lincoln's Inn. There are also awards for visually impaired students/students with disabilities: the Hebe Plunkett Award at Grays Inn offers awards up to £10,000 to fund the GDL, BPTC or pupillage and at Inner Temple Disability Grants are available.
Check out this article from The Times Online - it gives a good run-down on each Inn, offering a snapshot including which has the largest pot of scholarship money, and famous members.