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The Need for Change

Law firm clients are now expecting a broader definition of ‘value’ from their legal representatives, according to Robert Bourns, President of the Law Society for England & Wales, speaking at a recent Academy of Law (AOL) lecture.

“Clients no longer just require excellent lawyers – they require legal practitioners with a skillset that encompasses much more than mere legal advice. Additional technical skills, combined with softer portfolio management skills, are sought in addition to legal guidance,” stated Robert Bourns. In response to their demand, the Law Society of England & Wales is currently re-evaluating entrance requirements for legal students, as well as revamping core professional qualifications for future lawyers.

Teaching practical skills to help lawyers develop the competencies required to best serve the legal needs of international clients is at the core of the AOL’s activities. A range of partnerships include legal industry stakeholders, as well as law schools across the Emirates, the City University of London, Paris Sorbonne, NYU Abu Dhabi and Middlesex University.

The Academy has devised a strategy for bridging gaps in traditional legal education by focusing on cross-training students and lawyers in civil and common law systems, implementing international and comparative law perspectives, and expanding access to knowledge by offering Arabic and English language courses.

The most recent initiative by the AOL is a collaboration agreement with RICS to deliver dispute resolution training in the Middle East. The course will enable delegates to manage mediations in a robust but flexible manner, manage liability and drive solutions in an Analytical, Commercial, Restorative and Expert (ACRE) manner. Successful completion of the course will also allow delegates to apply for inclusion on the RICS Global President’s Panel of Accredited Dispute Resolvers and Expert Witnesses.