As we know, the proposed SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) replacing the LPC will require future solicitor hopefuls to pass a new exam, along with gaining two-years of qualifying experience, in order to legally qualify. The implementation of the reform is full speed ahead and expected to be implemented no earlier than September 2020.
But are law firms backing the SQE?
Fresh research by the BPP law school this week suggests a strong no.
The BPP University Law School has found in its research that only a quarter of law firms believe the reforms will increase representation of disadvantaged candidates as solicitors. In addition nearly three quarters of firms claimed that the benefits of the reform were still not clear to them.
BPP law school said:
“It would be fair to say that the [exam] has not been greeted with universal acclaim by the legal profession. Ultimately, it may make sense for law firms and students to see the [it] as an essential ‘floor’ for legal training rather than a sufficient ceiling. After all, the regulator only determines what the minimum requirement is; the market decides what is ideal.”
The SRA responded by saying:
“The SQE is about confidence that new solicitors are meeting consistent, high standards. With multiple exams and courses, the current system doesn’t do that. Many are put off by the need for an up-front gamble on the expensive LPC. Others are left with a lot of debt but no training contract. The new arrangements will mean that aspiring solicitors can learn more of what they need in the workplace, and firms can add in additional skills and training to suit their needs. That will help both firms and students. The report highlights many of the potential benefits of the SQE, including the opening up of the apprentice route into the profession. We have said that we will be working hard over the next three years to make sure students and aspiring solicitors are fully aware of the changes and transition arrangements, and the report supports our thinking.”
It’s not all bad news for the SQE however, as 18% of firms did say were positive about the reforms…
These reforms are likely to affect OULS members the most, so let us know what you think of the proposals either in the comments below or at newsteam@OULS.org
For more information see the Solicitors Regulation Authority see here.