The news today has been dominated by the News of The World hacking Milly Dowler’s phone and Rebekah Brooks’ extraordinary email to the staff of news International – beautifully de-constructed by David Allen Green in The New Statesman.
It is rather surprising that Brooks is going to investigate misfeasance of her own time as editor of NOTW. There is a petition to sign requesting a full (judicial?) public inquiry – if you wish to sign it – and there is a debate scheduled in The Commons on the morrow.
Always happy to promote interesting blogging and this piece by Ashley Connick amused me. He does make rather more sensible (and useful) points about law firm interview techniques than I managed to in my Muttley Dastardly nonsense. ( Dr Erasmus Strangelove was mentioned.)
Carl Gardner over at Head of legal considers: Outing, idle gossip and sexuality discrimination
The European Court of Human Rights is not favoured by The Sun, The News of The World or The Daily Mail – unsurprisingly. So… it is good to see that one of our own judges is soon to lead it. Adam Wagner picks up the story on The UK Human Rights blog: British judge to head European Court of Human Rights
And.. the ever useful weekly human rights round up from the team at 1 Crown Office Row – a good read: Please release me (on bail) – The Human Rights Roundup. This from Adam Wagner is interesting: Strasbourg ruling may change UK’s responsibilities under the Human Rights Act
For obvious reasons, I shall wait before commenting on a number of cases going through due process, including The Sun and The Daily Mirror contempt of court issues. A selection of reports from The Guardian: Can jurors in the internet age avoid being in contempt of court? | Met police kettled pupils aged 11 during fee protests, court told | Joanna Yeates contempt case begins
Legal Education under pressure?
An interesting piece in the lawyer – LPC classes empty as dynamic duo corner market – attracted my attention. I had a look at the down turn in LPC applications in a post yesterday: Law Review: The Battle for law students begins…… not surprisingly….. and interviewed Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School last week on the increasing privatisation of legal education.
NCLT has been offering cut-price LPC courses for some time with various ‘partner institutions’ – presumably because it did not feel it would get accreditation in their own right? NCLT is part of well known CPD course provider CLT. I believe that CLT is now owned by Wilmington PLC.
In collaboration with the University of the West of England, UWE, CLT has formed the National College of Legal Training, offering an innovative approach for post graduates to access the Legal Practice Course. NCLT is just one example of the progressive approach CLT takes to partnerships and alliances in order that the very best in post qualification training can be delivered.
The Lawyer notes: “NCLT was initially a partnership between Central Law Training, the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice (BiLP) (part of the University of the West of England (UWE)), Manchester Metropolitan University, Southampton Solent University and the University of Westminster. The institutions teamed up in early 2010 to launch one of the cheapest LPCs on the market. At that stage they had their sights set on just the part-time LPC market, notably a weekend study course costing £5,900 – 50 per cent cheaper than that charged by some of the larger providers.”
I can’t see NCLT competing with either BPP or The College of Law in terms of quality on their own (Yet) – although, with UWE, they will certainly provide a well regarded programme. If they go it alone, as seems to be a ‘plan’ – it will cost them countless millions to provide the infrasructure required to compete with BPP and the College of Law. Professor Richard Moorhead, Cardiff Law School, responded to one of my tweets on this issue yesterday and suggested that NCLT are not trying to take on the ‘Big two’ – they are targeting the smaller LPC providers. I agree.
The Lawyer notes: “The college has recently broken off ties with both Westminster and Manchester Metropolitan.NCLT claims the split was entirely amicable. In a joint statement, NCLT commercial director Paul Whitehouse and head of BiLP Steve Dinning said: “Based on NCLT’s strategy for continued expansion, while we’re happy to develop collaborative partnerships, we have outgrown the current relationships in London and Manchester and have sought to secure state-of-the-art teaching premises which are more appropriate for the training needs of our future students.”
It does not surprise me to read that NCLT had dispensed with their collaboration with Manchester and Westminster. If they seek their own accreditation from the SRA to run the LPC, they have no need of ‘partner institutions’. I have reservations about their strategy to attract students, in these dark days, with a cheaper LPC. Students aren’t stupid – and the leading two providers, more expensive though they be, do dominate the market for a very good reason – quality and access to the law firms which employ trainees. CLT enjoy a good reputation for CPD courses. Full time LPC and other vocational courses, however, require a very different approach and substantial financial investment. Reputation takes time to build. I would not have thought that 2011-2012 was an ideal time to make that investment when numbers applying for these courses is on the decline – temporary though that may be. It is, however, another sign that the private sector is marching into legal education.
CLT tried to get involved in the vocational sector of legal education in the early 1990s when I was the CEO of BPP Law School. They set up a Bar Final course (The old format course pre-BVC / BPTC) in competition with us to attract overseas students. In the event, they didn’t attract enough students to make it viable – and we were happy to take their students over. NCLT does, however, have serious money behind them – so we have another private sector organisation in a possibly over crowded market. Evolution of the species, anyone?