Solicitor qualification mechanisms are coming under the scrutiny of the SRA.
It appears that the end is nigh for both the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). In an attempt to level the playing field, the SRA intends to replace both. The name of the replacement is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
So, are we just changing one set of acronyms for another? Let’s take a look at the method behind the madness.
The idea for a super exam to replace the existing pathways to qualification has been around for some time now.
Last April, the SRA announced its intention to replace existing routes to qualification with the SQE by as early as September 2020. The new examination has two parts: (SQE1 and SQE2) and will include a stipulation that new solicitors complete a training contract.
However, harmonisation moved a step closer recently when the SRA presented its proposals to the Legal Services Board. The Board. The Board has an obligation to give its decision on the proposals within 28 days.
An SRA spokesperson stated:
“The aim of the SQE is to guarantee consistent, high standards for qualifying solicitors, as well as helping widen access to the profession. We developed our proposals by engaging with more than 10,000 people. This is the next stage in the process, and we look forward to the LSB’s decision.”
Despite the SRA insisting it will guarantee all entrants to the profession “meet consistent, high standards” and put an end to what it calls the “LPC gamble”, the news has raised eyebrows in some quarters.
Despite concerns, the SRA is moving things along quickly and is set to appoint an assessment organisation for the super exam. For those mid-way through their solicitor qualification, the SRA says you “will have the choice of which route to follow — the existing route or the SQE — for a number of years.”
Full details of the SQE are still not fully apparent. However, the SRA has proposed what it calls “a possible structure” for the new exam.
The idea is to sub-divide the examination into two parts, with part one significantly cheaper than part two. The parts will be divided by a training contract-style period of learning on the job. This will mean aspiring solicitors yet to secure training with a firm have a smaller financial outlay. This will mean less risk than they do at present with the so-called “LPC gamble”.
The SRA also has plans to introduce more flexibility in defining what a training contract actually is. Experience such as paralegal work, work in a university’s law office and others could soon count towards solicitor training. Under the new approach, the term ‘training contract’ won’t be used and the SRA will stipulate “two years of qualifying legal work experience”.
Both law degree and non-law degree holders will be able to sit the exam. It will also be possible for aspiring solicitors going through the apprenticeship route to qualification to sit it too.
Obviously, the proposals only affect England and Wales, with no such similar plans currently under scrutiny by the Scottish Law Society.
You can find out further details on the SRA’s website by following this link and also in the pdf attachment below.
PDF download: here
© LawWare Limited 1995-2018
Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
Another great customer service experience from LawWare. My laptop had to be stripped back to factory settings as part of a repair - taking hours! In contrast, restoring LawWare took one phone call to the support team and I was up and running in 6 minutes. If only everything was so easy!
As the first commercial user of LawWare back in 1998, we have had no hesitation in remaining with the product through its development. We thoroughly recommend it to any firm looking for a practice management system.
The helpdesk is exceptionally good. Whatever the query there is always a human being there to help. No leaving messages or being advised to go to a website. The best computer service for solicitors I have ever used!
The linking of documents and casefiles saves so much time! I have experience of several accounts packages and I like that LawWare is simple to use and easy to learn. Support is quick and effective and staff are helpful and courteous.
I have worked with a number of Case Management providers over the years but have not come across anything with the attention to detail and thoroughness of LawWare. My colleagues and I have not been disappointed.
I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are in the office or out, is an integral part of what we are building.
The level of support is the main benefit using this system. The system itself once you have had training is simple and easy to use. We have a great relationship with LawWare and the ongoing support is second to none.
Significant preparation was required to configure and import the data from our old firm. We had to get all clients onto the new system and then learn how to use it. We just find it very easy to use, much easier than our old system.
Being a busy litigator with a growing firm it is incredibly useful to be able to view my files from any location with some form of internet connection. I am a fan, and want to keep working with LawWare to make a good product great.
The switch to the new LawCloud system, which is still on-going, has gone very well. We found the LawWare team without exception to be very helpful and knowledgeable. All queries are followed up and dealt with promptly.