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Knowledge, culture and ethos in the construction of professionalism: contrasts in training and development in the new Community Legal Services sector

By Pete Sanderson


This paper explores aspects of the development of the Community Legal Service (CLS) sector in England and Wales in the light of conflicts arising around the concept of professionalism. Specifically, we will be concerned with the juxtaposition of two occupational groupings with distinct approaches to knowledge culture and ethos: the law firms involved in publicly funded legal advice, and the Not for Profit (NfP) advice sector, including Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CABx) and specialist agencies such as Shelter and Mind.\ud \ud \ud The paper briefly discusses this development, and other alternative models of service provision suggested in the Clementi Review, in the context of the costs pressures of the legal aid budget, and the adoption by the Department of Constitutional affairs of an economic model which em braces the market control critique of the legal profession. Illich’s more radical variant of this critique is reviewed, alongside his prediction that ‘learning nets’, facilitated by new technology, offered a radical challenge to professional monopolies over expert knowledge. The contrasting models of training and development in the NfP and firm sector are then discussed: the NfP sector characterised by an emphasis on collective learning and maintaining organisational culture and ethos, the firm sector by an emphasis on accredited, individually portable human capital. The paper then speculates as to whether this contrast offers the prospect of a more pluralist model of educating and training legal service providers, or whether the pressures of quality regimes will erode these differences

Topics: LC5201, K1
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