Minister McEntee to reform legal education and remove barriers to becoming a solicitor or barrister
- Minister welcomes proposals from Legal Services Regulatory Authority on training and education
- Implementation Plan to be drawn up by Department of Justice and LSRA
- Minister McEntee asks LSRA to further examine how to remove barriers to entering legal profession and to increase diversity
19 November 2020
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today welcomed the two latest Reports of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and committed to working with the LSRA to drive reform of legal education.
The two reports, entitled Setting Standards - Legal Professional Education and Training and Greater than the Sum of its Parts - Consideration of Unification of the Solicitors’ Profession and Barristers’ Profession’, are the latest of a series on areas of potential structural reform completed by the Authority under section 34 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015.
The Minister welcomed both reports, which she has laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
In its Legal Professional Education and Training report, the LSRA identifies the need for a clear definition of the competence and standards required to practise as a solicitor or barrister.
It proposes a new statutory framework for solicitor and barrister education and training; a common set of competencies and standards for professional legal training; and to ensure providers of legal education adhere to the standards required, among other issues.
The Minister also welcomed the LSRA’s proposal to scrutinise and accredit new providers of legal education and training, which will widen opportunities for legal education.
Minister McEntee said:
“I am determined that there should be more equity and diversity in access to the legal professions and in their education and training structures. I will work with the LSRA to develop policies to achieve this.
“We must address those financial and administrative barriers that aspiring lawyers continue to face at the outset of their careers for once and for all. We need a more open legal services sector to support our open economy in a way which can be to the mutual benefit to both citizens and enterprise in their access to justice.”
In addition to working with the LSRA to examine and implement its proposals, the Minister has also asked the Authority to further consider the economic and other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors.
The Minister said:
“I have today asked the Authority to consider the economic and other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors and to make recommendations to me. This is part of my plan as Minister for Justice to increase diversity across the justice sector, including in my Department, An Garda Síochána, the Courts and the legal profession.”
Minister McEntee has asked the LSRA to further examine:
- The remuneration of trainee barristers and solicitors
- The other costs associated with joining each profession
- The information available to prospective trainee barristers and solicitors on available masters and solicitors firms
- The information available on the terms and conditions available, and how they are selected
- Any other barriers faced by young barristers and solicitors, including the ability to take maternity leave
The Minister asked that the LSRA pay particular attention to equity of access and entry into the legal professions, and the objective of achieving greater diversity within the professions.
She has also asked the LSRA make recommendations for change. The Minister said:
“In so doing, I hope that the Authority will be able to engage appropriately with all relevant stakeholders. In particular with University law students, those students currently in the Kings Inns and the Law Society, and newly qualified members of both professions, as well as more long standing members of both professions and their representative bodies.”
In its second Report on Unification the Authority is of the view that the solicitors’ profession and barristers’ profession in the State should not be unified at this time.
However, the Authority considers that it may be appropriate for it to give further detailed consideration to the unification issue at a future date and it undertakes to return to the matter no less than five years from the date of submission of this report to the Minister. The Authority anticipates that the landscape for legal services provision will be sufficiently evolved in that period in order for it to reconsider the unification question.
Notes for editors
The full reports can be read at the following links –