Standardized clients in Ireland

by Paul Maharg on 15/09/2011

I was over in Dublin recently helping to train Standardized Clients for the Law Society of Ireland.  If you’re not sure what SCs are, head over to the Standardized Client Initiative occasional blog.

It was a great session.  There were six SCs, all of them highly articulate, great learners, and we had a wonderful time going through the training processes.  Our hosts at the Law Society were Rory O’Boyle, Maebh and Freda, who played the parts of solicitors where required, and who had organized the whole event.  Kudos to them that we all enjoyed it so much.

The SC approach is growing slowly but steadily.  First the Glasgow Graduate School of Law (now Strathclyde Law School) developed the use of them in law, out of an international pilot project.  They were then used in the University of New Hampshire Law School (at that time, Franklin Pierce Law School) by John Garvey in his innovative Bar Exam alternative, the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors programme.  More recently the approach has been adopted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England as part of the new design of the QLTS – Qualifying Lawyers’ Transfer Scheme.  This is essentially an assessment that lawyers who qualified in other jurisdictions, and wishing to practice in England and Wales, must pass (there are special rules attaching to solicitors in Ireland and other solicitors practicing in UK jurisdictions).  [insert URL to SRA site describing this]

The QLTS initiative is quite different to the approach of most law schools, but it does show how flexible the method can be, and how it can be adapted to different educational purposes.  The approach was designed initially by the SRA in a working party that included members of the profession, a medical educator and myself.  SC use was part of an OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) structure, which in turn was part of a larger assessment of lawyers’ knowledge and skills — more information over on the SRA website.  Kaplan won the tender to run the assessment, and assessments are currently ongoing.


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