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Stage 1 SQE pilot candidates “to be recruited in November”


The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has suggested that the impending SQE could cost trainee solicitors as much as £4,500, estimating the candidate fee at between £3,000 and £4,500.


However, in a statement, the SRA said that fee levels for the exam – which will consist of two parts – could change, as plans to launch it to replace current solicitors’ training are being pushed back to September 2021, meaning the SQE would be introduced one year later than anticipated.


Law firms and training providers have told the SRA they would prefer a 2021 launch date – the City of London Law Society has said that firms often recruit new trainees up to two years in advance and need more time to adjust to the proposed changes in solicitor training.


There are also concerns that the new training regime might result in a two-tier legal profession. The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has said this could happen if candidates decided on a preparatory course prior to the SQE – and fee structures for the SQE might also have “a negative effect on diversity” within the legal profession if fees were set too high.


SRA chief executive Paul Philip said:


“We have listened to law firms and universities, who have told us that 2021 gives them the right amount of time to prepare.


“Our priority is creating a rigorous, value-for-money assessment that drives consistent, high standards.”


The SRA said that SQE stage one would cost between £1,100 and £1,650, with SQE stage two – a more practical assessment – costing between £1,900 and £2,850.


Paul Philip added:


“The SQE also offers a fresh opportunity to increase access to the profession – a competitive training market offering real choices will help the profession attract the best talent.”


The SRA has revealed that the pilot for SQE 1 will comprise a total of 360 questions and three separate examination papers, rather than 680 questions over six papers, although the amount of material covered will remain the same.


Kaplan will develop and run the examination – and the SRA and the educational services provider are expecting to recruit candidates for the pilot of SQE 1 later in November.


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