SRA welcomes LSB green light to SQE
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has given the green light to the first stage of reforms involving how solicitors qualify and are admitted to the profession.
As a result, employers and education providers are being encouraged to press ahead with preparations for the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
The SQE is due to be introduced in September 2020 and will involve a single common assessment to replace the existing system of multiple courses and examinations.
The LSB says that the new assessment will mean that the public and law firms “can have full confidence” that all new solicitors will meet the same consistently high standards, regardless of how they qualified.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has welcomed the changes and said:
“As well as building trust and confidence, the SQE should also help widen access to the profession, by allowing different routes to entry, including 'earn as you learn' pathways, such as apprenticeships.
“It will also remove the need for all would-be solicitors to pay significant up-front costs – often up to £15,000 – to take the Legal Practice Course, which offers no guarantee of a training contract or becoming a solicitor.”
SRA Chief Executive, Paul Philip, added:
“We welcome the LSB approval for this key next step in our reform programme – we are committed to introducing the SQE, which will give the public real confidence that all solicitors meet high, consistent standards.
“Confirmation that we can press ahead with the development of the SQE gives employers and education providers the surety they need to plan fully for its introduction.
“Law firms and academic institutions can now design approaches to recruitment and training which reflect their specific needs.
Mr Philip added that the removal of regulation on potential routes to qualifying – including the QLD, GDL or LPC requirement – would provide opportunities for candidates from every walk of life to consider a career as a solicitor.
He also said that the introduction of Qualifying Work Experience “should address the current training contract bottleneck”.
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