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Regulatory Threats to the Law Degree: The Solicitors Qualifying Examination and the Purpose of Law Schools

Authors
  • Bowyer, Richard1
  • 1 University of Exeter, Law School, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK , Exeter (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Law and Critique
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
May 04, 2019
Volume
30
Issue
2
Pages
117–121
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s10978-019-09243-w
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Two major regulatory changes are affecting the provision of undergraduate legal education in England and Wales. On the one hand, the Qualifying Law Degree is being deregulated, meaning law schools are free to make significant changes to how and what they teach. On the other hand, higher education in England has seen a significant overhaul through the creation of the Office for Students, which treats students as consumers. Now more than ever, law schools need to ask themselves existential questions which will not only test their continued relevance or indeed viability within the ‘market’ for higher education, but also the status of the discipline of law as a whole. The regulatory landscape may indeed present a significant threat, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on what law schools are for, and consequently what changes could result from the academic freedom that comes with deregulation. Whilst different law schools will interpret their mission differently, they should caution against either generalised inertia or succumbing to an outcomes-oriented provision that simply prepares students for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination. Instead, law schools will find their proper purpose in critical reflection and academic self-grounding, providing undergraduate students with a ‘question everything’ mentality, and showing them that law is something to be experienced and not merely learnt.

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