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Number of people wanting to be costs lawyers almost doubles

5 December 2011

The number of people applying to train as costs lawyers has almost doubled, from 65 to 112, the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has said.

Ian Stark, chairman of the ACL, said the increased status of costs professionals together with the continued downturn in the legal jobs market had changed people’s attitudes towards a career in costs.

Stark said that only costs lawyers had independent rights of audience to conduct litigation, as opposed to costs draftsmen who had to “borrow” rights from their instructing solicitor.

“The unprecedented rise in student numbers demonstrates that people are starting to realise that there are other routes to a successful and rewarding legal career,” Stark said.

“Under the Legal Services Act, costs lawyers undertake reserved legal activities and enjoy the same benefits and status of many other legal professionals – including partnership in legal disciplinary practices.”

Stark said that following costs management pilots in Birmingham and the current nationwide pilot in mercantile courts and technology and construction courts across England and Wales arising out of the Jackson reforms, the importance of costs had never been higher.

“As such, judges increasingly want to hear from those with the relevant experience and recognised level of qualification,” Stark said.

“All litigators will have to get to grips with costs budgeting as part of these reforms and we are seeing more firms, including some of the largest in the City, deciding to bring costs expertise in house so they can manage costs from the start.”

Stark added that costs students needed only a minimum of four GCSEs to begin the training, while those with law degrees or postgraduate legal education could get exemptions from parts of the programme.

Like other approved regulators under the Legal Services Act, the ACL has had to separate its regulatory and representative functions. The Costs Law Standards Board started work as an independent regulator in October.

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