Time to remove one of Britain’s great glass ceilingsby Dominic Raab / March 20, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
Many people dream of a career in one of the professions, but struggle to fund those aspirations. In a 2012 report for the government, Alan Milburn estimated that the professions would account for 83 per cent of new jobs in Britain in the next decade. But, he argued: “Across the professions as a whole, the glass ceiling has been scratched but not broken,” adding “the graduate grip on the labour market is still strong.”
Take law. The development of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) has allowed over 20,000 qualified legal executives to enter the profession, mostly via a non-graduate route. Legal executives often specialise in areas such as conveyancing, family law, probate and litigation. Training is typically spread over five years of combined study and work. For the trainee, it costs around £7,000 for the first four years (while he or she is earning), compared to over £20,000 for pursuing a degree first. Over 80 per cent of CILEX members have parents who did not go to university. Just 2 per cent have a parent who was a lawyer. Half said the cost of the graduate route would have deterred them from becoming lawyers.
Yet, there remain glass ceilings. Much of the work legal executives do has to be supervised by a solicitor, irrespective of the experience or ability of the individual. In practice, this is a major disincentive to legal executives setting up their own high street practices. Even when they can do the work, they are still tied to solicitors.
This makes little sense. The restriction limits the aspirations of legal executives, and checks their ability to compete with solicitors on a level playing field. CILEX is applying to the Legal Services Board for independent practice rights, which would enable legal executives to break into this new territory. Subject to meeting the criteria to ensure proper regulatory supervision, the application should be approved.
Likewise, BPP Law School is seeking regulatory approval to set up…