Clients across borders

October 12th, 2015 § 0 comments

The Law Society of England and WalesWith growth of international business, comes increasing opportunity for lawyers to develop their client base across borders and even oceans. If lawyers are to compete on the world stage, it is important that the legal qualification they hold has a solid reputation in its own right. The reputation of the qualification can also have implications for the use of a particular law as a governing law in international commercial contracts.

This was one of the key findings of the Law Society of England and Wales’ Global Competitiveness Report, which was prompted by changes to the qualification put forward by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The Report has been well received and has also been picked up outside the legal profession, featuring in a recent article in the FT.

The research team conducted interviews with a number of member firms who operate on the international stage. Time and time again the feedback was that the traditional training contract facilitates a high standard of training and allows junior lawyers to learn “soft” skills such as judgment and ethics from more experienced colleagues. The practical training component also helps to develop commercial acumen, a key consideration in international business.  If these advantage were lost it could jeopardise the reputation, not just of the English and Welsh lawyers but also English law as governing law and England and Wales as a jurisdiction of choice.

The current indication is that the SRA is leaning towards a centralised series of assessments through which knowledge and skills in compulsory areas would be tested. The Law Society has welcomed the move towards centralised assessment which could help ensure a consistent entry standard, however, it has also voiced concerns that if the training contract is no longer mandatory, this could disadvantage those from poorer backgrounds who could struggle to find funding for courses which were not deemed compulsory, even if they were essential to training and obtaining the qualification.

Read the full findings of the Global Competitiveness Report here.


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