A team of researchers is working under the supervision of Avrom Sherr, Woolf Professor of Legal Education, in relation to a number of major areas of work.
Legal Education, Legal Competence and Little Bo Peep (Woolf Chair inaugural lecture) ,
paper by Professor Avrom Sherr
Professional Competence and the Legal Aid Peer Review Project
2006 saw a further expansion in the areas of work covered by Peer Review. Clinical Negligence is included for the first time in an important pilot of this new subject area which is characterised by long cases and complex files. In addition very high cost cases in Criminal Law including long jury fraud cases are also being considered.
The Carter proposals for changes in Legal Aid and the Legal Services Commission's approaches to Preferred Supplier options have placed considerable pressure on expanding the numbers of peer reviewers being selected and trained, as well as turning a system of assessment, which is still in relative infancy, into an operation in the style of factory production. However, the larger banks of data which may emanate from this approach will provide further helpful information in terms of understanding what competence of legal work means in different subject categories.
Already, on a qualitative basis, "Guides" have been produced in Crime, Family, Employment and Mental Health subject categories, and are being worked on in other areas of law. These intend to show to other legal aid practitioners where common problems appear to exist in work patterns reviewed. The objective is to bring all work carried out under legal aid to a good standard of competence. In order to do that, the transparency of these objectives is an important factor. Funding for this project in the last two years has amounted to over £270,000.
Judicial Training in Bulgaria
Professor Sherr was invited by the British Council to assist in advising them, the British Embassy and Judicial Authorities in Bulgaria in relation to issues of training regarding judicial decision-making on a prosecutorial and judicatory basis. Principal among the objectives was the avoidance of corruption within a system under close scrutiny from the European Union in relation to the possible accession of Bulgaria in the next few years.
Legal Services Complaints Commissioner
Professor Sherr was invited to join the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner's Consumer Advisory Board during this year. This is a highly important period for the future of regulation of lawyers and legal services as the Legal Services Bill begins to proceed through Parliament. It has therefore been an important time to be involved in understanding, consulting on, and advising in relation to issues of discipline and conduct of lawyers.
Professor Sherr has continued his work with the United Kingdom Centre for Legal Education , which is housed at Warwick University, and began work on the Strategy Committee of the UKCLE this year. The work of the UKCLE in further professionalising the approach and status of law teachers in the UK has been important in an era of change in benchmarking standards and training frameworks for qualified lawyers. The UKCLE has an important representative function with other agencies in education and in registering what is special about legal education on the broader education scene.
Case of the Common Law in European Legal Education , paper by Professor Avrom Sherr
Pioneers in Practice - the Community Legal Service Pioneer Project research report by Richard Moorhead
(PDF document on Lord Chancellor's Department Community Legal Service site)
Professional Work, Professional Careers and Legal Education: Educating the Lawyer for 2010 ,
paper by Professor Avrom Sherr