News In Focus
MSPs back "Campaign for Fair Access" event
24 October 2012
MSPs from across party divides turned out to an event at the Scottish Parliament last night to support the Campoaign for Fair Acces to the Legal Profession (CFALP).
The student-run campaign seeks to overturn the Scottish Government's refusal to allow would-be lawyers taking the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice the same access to student loans as is available to those seeking other professional qualifications, instead capping their loan entitlement at £3,400, the level of the previous Diploma grant.
CFALP argues that this will restrict access to the legal profession principally to those from better-off families.
Sponsored by Marco Biagi, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, the event also heard from Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, and two current law undergraduates who now found themselves financially unable to undertake the Diploma course, as well as Tim Haddow, law student and CFALP campaign coordinator.
An open debate then featured contributions from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs, along with law students, Austin Lafferty, President of the Law Society of Scotland, and Dr Nick McKerrell of Glasgow Caledonian University.
Speaking after the event, Mr Haddow said: "What was most remarkable was the sense of consensus from the meeting. We assembled a diverse range of participants. And not just in political terms: the diversity of the legal profession was represented, from law centre solicitor and small law firm to some of Scotland’s largest commercial firms. And from the Law Society of Scotland itself to the organisations representing trainees, students and newly qualified solicitors.
"But all present, politicians and lawyers, were agreed on the need for change. This event has the potential to be the start of a process that will bring about this change. As we have argued, both politicians and the profession must act. We hope that both groups will now take up the challenge, addressing their own contributions to reopening fair access to the legal profession."
Click for the CFALP blog on the event and Mike Dailly's address.