Law Update: Aided by non-lawyers

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The Independent Online
Franchises to carry out legal aid work may in the future be awarded to non- lawyers, according to John Taylor MP, parliamentary secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department. Speaking on a programme of continuing education for lawyers, produced by Legal Network Television for broadcast on 10 June, Mr Taylor says: 'It is in our mind as a forward development to extend franchises for legal assistance beyond those who are qualified as lawyers. Not at the moment though; all present thinking requires that there be a qualified lawyer in the franchising organisation.'

Mr Taylor says that the future could offer encouragement for agencies other than solicitors providing legal advice. 'In other professions, the Institute of Legal Executives and the Patent Agents, for example, are two bodies who are currently applying for rights of audience before the courts,' he says. 'The highest standards must be sustained but there's no reason why the practice of the law has to be forever confined to barristers and solicitors, like the Medes and Persians.'

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