The Law Society convened the Diploma Project Board Conference at Heriot Watt University on 4th December 2005 to enable all interested parties to learn more about the workings of the Diploma in Legal Practice and also to enable all concerned to make their own comments and observations about the structure and content of the diploma. The conference was convened by David Preston, former President of the Law Society and now convener of the Education and Training Committee with the assistance of Liz Campbell, the Director of Legal Education at the Law Society and was addressed by a number of legal practitioners including Fiona Westwood, Charles Hennessy and Alan Barr and also by a number of academic experts including Professor Paul Maharg and Karen Barton, both from the Glasgow Graduate School of Law, David Brand from Dundee University and Philip Plowden, Associate Dean, Clinical Legal Education, University of Northumbria who is also a member of the English bar. Neil Stevenson, Deputy Director of Legal Education at the Law Society under whose careful organisation the various meetings, workshops and refreshments all occurred at the correct times and places, also addressed the meeting. In addition, many questions and contributions were taken from the floor of the meeting, including input from a number of current and recent diploma students. The conference divided also into separate workshops to consider such topics as core subjects only or core subjects plus electives, use of portfolios, outcome based approaches and comparisons with training in other professions. At the outset of the conference, Liz Campbell promised a day of hard but enjoyable work and, in the context of the careful planning which ensured that everyone was busy all day and the excellent facilities provided by Heriot Watt University and supported by the tasteful hospitality of the Law Society, Liz's forecast was duly delivered in full. Convener David Preston wound up the conference at about 4.30pm and advised that all contributions would duly be considered and a full outcome would be published in the Journal early in the new year.
The ongoing debate about the education and training of solicitors, therefore, gathers pace and there is a danger that busy practitioners may take their eyes off this particular ball whereas, at the end of the day, it is likely to be practitioners who shall be mainly responsible for the costs of the operation and the future of whose profession is likely to be determined by decisions taken at the conclusion of this debate. The Agents' Society shall endeavour to keep its eye on the ball on behalf of members and keep them informed of developments by means of news announcements on this site and more considered material in the Gazette and any members who have any views or information or anecdotes etc., that you feel may contribute to this debate are invited to submit the same, preferabley by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.