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No LPC or training contract required: SRA confirms plan to revolutionise training

No LPC or training contract required: SRA confirms plan to revolutionise training

Would-be solicitors will not have to go through the legal practice course and a two-year training contract to qualify in future, after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed it is pressing ahead with its new training regime - but it has delayed implementation by a year to September 2020.

The regulator said the new structure would "get rid" of what it dubbed the "LPC gamble", of paying large up-front costs of up to £15,000 to go through the course with no guarantee of a training contract or qualifying as a solicitor. It argued that the new regime would increase the range and choice of legal training and was likely to be cheaper.

The new qualification will consist of four elements, meaning that by the time candidates seek admission as a solicitor, they must have:

  • Been awarded a degree or equivalent Level 6 qualification (the scale prescribed by the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications), or have gained equivalent experience;
  • Passed stages 1 and 2 of the new solicitors qualifying examination (SQE);
  • Completed qualifying legal work experience under the supervision of a solicitor or in an entity regulated by the SRA for at least two years; and
  • Be of satisfactory character and suitability.

There will be no prescribed order for completing the first three, except that SQE 2 cannot be taken before SQE 1. The work experience requirement removes the current demand for a block two-year training contract which all trainees must complete. It also opens up solicitor apprenticeships, which have funding incentives for employers.

SQE 1 will cover the core areas of the current qualifying law degree/graduate diploma in law and LPC. SQE 2 will involve practical skills assessments in specific areas of practice. All students will have to pass an assessment in advocacy to qualify.

The SRA will impose rules to ensure that qualifying work experience does not become too informal, limiting the number of placements in which candidates can gain it to four.

The SRA expected that in 2020 the majority of students would continue to follow a similar pathway to the current one, but that the regime offered greater flexibility.

SRA policy director Crispin Passmore argued that, far from creating a two-tier system of students who qualify in ‘traditional’ and non-traditional ways, the new regime would level the playing field by making sure all solicitors are assessed against a single standard. With students receiving specific scores from the SQE, employers would be able to benchmark those they take on.


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