(Original post by Laissez_Faire)
Crazy Jamie, the distinction between barristers, solicitors is not sensible or reasonable in any way. I give the example of the international practice, cause I am not persuaded that the UK knows any better that the rest of the world. It is also restrictive for a practitioner lawyer and entails an element of prestige to the barrister's profession, as practically and under EU law there should not be this kind of distinction between practitioner lawyers.
Much of the world divides its legal professions. A number of Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries follow the UK distinction between solicitors and barristers/advocates. Most of Europe divides its legal profession between avocats and notaires. Some have a third profession, (France has just abolished this) of avoue. In England notary is a minor profession principally concerned with overseas matters. In most continental countries they are an everyday part of the law, concerned with property work, wills and family law. Where they exist, an avoue performs the role of litigation solicitor (historically the true role of the attorney). Moreover, in most European countries and in many other jurisdictions including the United States and India, the legal profession is divided geographically. Most lawyers in the world can only practice before a particular court or in a particular town or district.
And let me reverse the question to you: Why do you think the distinction is important and what would it be worse if the two qualifications merged?
It keeps costs down, because barristers carry much lower overheads. Barristers have much lower levels of support staff because they are not engaged in almost constant communication with clients and other professionals. Barristers have much lower demands for office space because they do not have the same need to provide interview and meeting facilities. Barristers have much lower professional indemnity insurance and fidelity protection. That is because they are only marginally involved in transactional property and corporate work where most claims arise and they cannot steal client money as they don't hold it. The three biggest costs for a solicitors firm are staff, premises and insurance.
It also prevents the centralisation of the legal profession. Most towns can support solicitors. Few towns could support an integrated legal profession. If a law firm cannot provide the whole service that a client wants the client will look elsewhere to firms that can, which will be in the major centres. Despite the enormous glut of lawyers in the USA there are shortages of rural attorneys in many parts of the US.
As for your second question, you yourself undermine the law degree, saying actually that having another degree is a plus. Maybe I am indeed biased up to a point (I hold both a law degree and a degree in political science) cause I see that a much harder degree (and I have experience on that), in many cases is undermined, and training lawyers are selected on the basis of the Uni they graduated from, rather than the course itself.
And of course the money you need to spend for an LPC or BPTC are just too much and it would be much more preferable to have the procedural and advanced courses of the LPC - BPTC as part of your LLB. I don't understand why should someone do an additional PRACTICAL course and also pay for it? The continent does not do it, neither the U.S. In both cases everything is taught during the LLB (I am aware that in the U.S. is only available as a PG degree and I think they have an important reason to do so) why is UK so special?
You are confusing two things. Firstly whether or not something is called a law degree or a diploma or a course hardly matters. Effectively in this country, you require a minimum of four years of full time college-based study and two years of on the job training to qualify as a solicitor and four years of college based training and one year of on the job training to qualify as a barrister compared with say France which requires five years of college based study to become an avocat or the USA which requires 7 years of college based study. In other words they are very similar.
However your real gripe seems to be that the Student Finance system doesn't fund the GDL and LPC. In fact, to only have to fund one or two years of sacademic study is low by international standards.
In any case, (and this is an answer to a bunch of smart asses who have replied to me like I offended then in person) this is my opinion and does not necessarily derives from a purely logical conclusion about all the issues. I want the legal profession to be truly flexible and open for people who wish to make their dreams come true and not for law firms and for law colleges who earn millions investing in the hopes of young students. I mean you all talk about depriving the law industry from choosing, when students with a BPTC cannot get a pupillage and LPC students cannot get a training contract. This is why I don't agree with the whole free competition in the legal profession and that is why I am afraid that in the future the quality of law schools in the UK will be undermined.
I do agree with you regarding the law school racket. However I cannot see why forcing people to choose the law at 17 helps.