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Solicitors Qualifying Examination to replace LPC and GDL

by LegalinX-7Side | Apr 28, 2017

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have recently announced reforms to solicitors qualifications, replacing the traditional Legal Practice Course and the Graduate Diploma in Law with what has been branded a solicitors ‘super exam’.  The independent centralised assessment, officially introduced as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), is expected to be rolled out in September 2020 as part of the SRA’s Training for Tomorrow programme, which is reviewing the education and training solicitors undertake to better assure their competence. 

The structure that has been proposed by the SRA will split the exam into two parts with a training period in between for learning on the job.  The first exam will be designed to test the candidate’s ability to use and apply legal knowledge and the second will test legal skills.  In addition to these two tests, new solicitors would be required to have undertaken a substantial period of workplace training, which the SRA are predicting will be 24 month but no less than 18 months; hold a degree, apprenticeship or equivalent; and meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.

The SRA believe that the new SQE will provide a more reliable and rigorous test of competence as they have pointed out that with so many organisations involved in the assessment of prospective solicitors, ensuring all new solicitors are assessed to the same standard is near impossible.  Commenting on the SQE in a consultation summary, Enid Rowlands, the Chair of the SRA Board said “Our proposals are all about setting and assuring high, consistent, professional standards for the future.  This is what will support the brand of solicitor and protect the interests of the public, consumers and the profession itself.”  She went on to say “It will address the current problem of inconsistent and variable provider dependent pass rates across the Legal Practice Course and Common Professional Examination, as well as providing a single assessment for all regardless of which route into the profession they take.”

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