ACL launches revised costs lawyer qualification regime

Nash: speciaIised and developing area of legal work

The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has launched its new training regime that aims to ensure that the next generation of costs specialists “are up to the demands of the post-Jackson era”.

Following approval from the Legal Services Board, the ACL has started accepting the first applicants for the new costs lawyer qualification, which it said was designed with what was then the likely outcome of the Legal Education & Training Review in mind.

The three-year course will welcome its first cohort in September this year and applications are open until 30 June. Students can become a trainee from the age of 18 with four GCSEs at grade C or above (including English and Maths).

The programme costs £1,400 plus VAT a year, which includes all materials, tutorial support, seminars, revision courses and exams, as well as student membership of the ACL.

The ACL said becoming a costs lawyer is gaining popularity among graduates looking for a route into the profession, with 50% of the last group of trainees under the old regime already having a degree.

There is a range of exemptions for those who have already completed a law degree, legal practice course, bar professional training course or CILEx Level 6 qualification.

Students take three units, one each year, broken down into various modules. The first two years of the course covers the core elements – from knowledge of procedure to ethics and advocacy – while in the third year there are options to allow for specialisation in the costs of different areas of practice, such as personal injury and clinical negligence, land law, criminal law, company law, and family law.

Delivered by ACL Training, the education arm of the association, the course will be assessed through both written assignments and end-of-unit examinations. Trainees must also demonstrate an ability to reflect on their progress and keep a personal development plan which is aligned with one of the module assessments.

Recognising that many trainees will be in full-time employment, the new qualification uses a customised online learning platform, which is incorporated into the course to enable access to learning materials, tutor interaction and administrative support.

The ACL said that for the first time students will be examined at the end of each year’s course.

Chairman Sue Nash said: “After completing the course, trainees will reach the level of competency and performance required of a costs lawyer and learn valuable transferable skills. Ethical obligations will be to the forefront of the course and trainees will be trained to know where these may impact and be able to apply them in context.

“Costs law and practice is a speciaIised and developing area of legal work and I believe the course will prove to be attractive to both trainees and their employers, as well as those seeking an alternative route to entry to other legal professions.”

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