"R v Brown, such a delightful read."

The life of a law student life in 2022 had much more to it than simply reciting Lord Denning judgments, watching Countdown and surviving off a diet of tinned tuna and pasta. 

At the start of the year, law students studying for the Graduate Diploma in Law enjoyed far longer to take their exams than any previous cohort, thanks to Covid. When Omicron was rampant (almost feels nostalgic thinking of it), numerous universities opted to let their students access their first semester assessments remotely, and gave them 24 hours to complete each essay paper.

Students didn't always have it easy with exams. Kaplan and the SRA were blasted by students for an exam fiasco, as candidates were forced to wait five hours in overheated rooms to take the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, which was then cancelled: a "total shitshow," said one angered student. Entry involved "just two staff members checking the IDs of around 100-120 people", said a senior associate at an international firm who needs to qualify to practice in England and Wales. "The queue was at this stage, probably 50 metres long. It was obvious as early as this that the venue was completely underprepared", she said.

BPP University was accused of withholding exam results from students who had not yet paid for their courses in full. There were disgruntled students, but the university said it had the "right to suspend provision" of "any exam transcript...where there are overdue payments."

And BPP hit the headlines again when it excluded students who don't live in the UK from its advertising material to enable it to claim it "ranks top for postgraduate students in highly skilled employment".

The SRA said it is worried about the low pass rate of minority ethnic groups taking the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. In the results for this year's SQE1 exams, the pass rate for black candidates was 23%, compared to 63% for white candidates. The pass rate gap has concerned the SRA, which since the SQE's conception has emphasised the diversity benefits it would bring compared to the GDL and LPC.

Finally, six trainee lawyers who cheated in their exams (including a paper on ethics and professional responsibility) were slammed by a judge in Singapore. The judge initially said he would not name them, as "it would also be harsh to have one's professional career ended before it has even begun."

But the judge then u-turned on that decision and allowed them to be named, after all. "I am now of the view that it is better to face the publicity than to hide from it," said Justice Choo Han Teck. Five of the lawyers had admitted sharing answers to an online exam in 2020 via WhatsApp messages, and were required to retake it after they admitted their wrongdoing as soon as the investigation began.

Check out the rest of the 2022 review:

Firm fun


Heroes and villains

Showbiz, show-offs and Bonkers Websites

Judges and barristers

Politics, war, religion, race, and sex 

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