The Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed the price of its exam to replace the GDL and LPC, and also announced that its introduction will be delayed by another year.
The SRA said that the Solicitors Qualifying Examination will cost between £3,000 and £4,500. SQE 1, which will test legal knowledge, will cost between £1,100 and £1,650, while SQE 2, which tests practical legal skills, will cost between £1,900 and £2,850. Although the SRA has added the caveat that prices are "indicative" and that the final costs may be "inside or outside this range". So that's useful.
Together, SQEs 1&2 will comprise 35 hours of assessment, including written tests, mock client interviews and, in the case of SQE 1, 360 multiple choice questions over three papers.
The SRA claims that the SQE, which will be run by ex-law school Kaplan, will improve access to the profession by doing away with the onerous requirement for candidates without a sponsored training contract to pay up-front for the long-criticised LPC, which can now cost up to £16,700. At present, said Executive Director Crispin Passmore, the "LPC gamble", deters worthy candidates from attempting to qualify.
The SRA has also postponed the introduction of the SQE from 2020 to September 2021 (its original timetable had the SQE arriving in 2017). It said that law schools and law firms had asked for more time "to develop training and transition to the new system". Anyone who has already started a qualifying law degree or law conversion before then will have until 2032 to qualify under the old system, although if you think it will take you a decade to get your head around dominant easements, maybe consider another career.
The new details received a mixed reaction from the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society. While welcoming the delay, chair Adele Edwin-Lamerton told RollOnFriday that £4,500 "is a significant amount of money" that "will make the profession even more unattainable to some as loans aren't available for assessment costs, nor are they available for any SQE preparation course". She said, "this will lead to a two-tier system of education with candidates forced to choose their educational institution based on cost considerations". And while the headline cost of the SQE "is marketed by the SRA as being lower than the LPC, the real cost of qualifying under the SQE could be just as great, if not higher".
The SRA has also invested funds in 'Careers in law', a Facebook group which explains the SQE via cheerful videos aimed at toddlers.
Apparently it was developed "through working closely with young people", albeit possibly too young.