Is the solicitors qualifying exam the way forward for aspiring solicitors?

Tuesday 1st May 2018

September 2020 may be the month of change for aspiring solicitors. After years of being able to pick and choose the route future solicitors wish to take into the profession, uncertainty and doubt have started to surface. There are concerns about the consistency in the level of skill and expertise each solicitor holds, with many solicitors qualifying from different institutions with different pass rates.

This concern has not gone unnoticed. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which is the governing body for all solicitors has decided to overcome this by introducing a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

What is the solicitors qualifying exam (SQE)?This new ‘super exam’ is a standardised exam for all future solicitors. This exam will remove the supposed inconsistency in the level of skill between solicitors, said to be caused by the various current routes into the legal profession. By providing a blanket exam across England and Wales, it will ensure that all solicitors gain the required standard of skills.

The SQE will be a two-stage exam. Stage one will examine the candidates’ functioning legal knowledge, and stage two will examine the practical legal skills of the candidates.

The introduction of this exam will ultimately remove the requirement of the standard law degree or GDL, Legal Practice Course (LPC) and training contract. From 2020, future solicitors will only be required to hold a qualification at degree level; a standard law degree will no longer be required. The Solicitors Qualifying Exam will replace the LPC, and a training contract will be replaced with the requirement of legal work experience.

These changes are still being discussed, with mixed opinions around the introduction of the new ‘super exam’. With the approval of the SQE being delayed in February 2018, a close eye should be kept on upcoming changes.

Francesca Hodgetts, Commercial Assistant

Waldrons Solicitors