It has emerged that the SRA awarded failed law school Kaplan the job of designing the new Solicitor's Qualification Exam after the biggest legal education providers in the UK pulled out of the process or did not bid. 

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said Kaplan was appointed as the assessor of the SQE (pronounced SQUEEEE) after “a robust, competitive and open process". He said Kaplan's bid to run the new exam, which is set to replace the GDL and LPC no earlier than 2020, "succeeded against some very strong competition".

The competition may have been less strong than advertised. A day after the SRA's announcement, Dean of BPP University Andrew Chadwick sought to distance his institution from the perception of failure in a blunt press release which clarified that “BPP declined to participate in the bid for the SQE assessment contract".

RollOnFriday has learned that the University of Law, the UK's other major provider, pulled out after stage 1 of the tender. According to sources with knowledge of the bidding process, the SRA did not bar bidders from being both the assessment organisation and a provider of SQE training (provided safeguards such as Chinese walls were in place). But ULaw decided it would look wrong and withdrew.

 A win is a win.

That was not a problem for Kaplan. Once the third largest law school, it no longer has any courses to cause conflict. The business shut down its LPC and GDL in 2015 after admissions plummeted. At the time it spun to RollOnFriday that the SQE "has opened up the prospect of exciting new possibilities for the route to qualification as a solicitor" and said it would "concentrate its resources on developing innovative new products that draw on the Training for Tomorrow framework". Instead of training people for the SQE, it will now be writing it.

The SRA has denied that Kaplan was the only game in town, although it would explain why the regulator chose to overlook its stipulation that bidders should have an AAA credit rating. Kaplan's parent, Graham Holdings, only holds a Ba1 rating with Moodys ("judged to have speculative elements and [is] subject to substantial credit risk"). Of course it is also true that only Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson held AAA ratings, and they didn't seem particularly interested in designing a solicitors' exam.

The SRA would also not be drawn on how much the SQE and its training will cost candidates. Even though reducing the price of entry to the profession in order to increase access (the LPC is currently £16k) was a key justification for its introduction.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 03 August 18 09:23

The amount of pratting around with the profession (squee, pathetic law soc, insane SRA, relentless CPR changes, mad self regulation) has finally pushed me to look elsewhere after 12 years - it’s no longer a profession

Roll On Friday 03 August 18 10:13

Nony above: Indeed. I have long been struck by the parallels between the profession and Warhammer. Apologies for what follows in that I mix up Warhammer Fantasy/ Age Of Sigmar and 40k, but hopefully the point holds:

1. Ludicrously expensive to get into:
Law: The £16k fee above speaks for itself, plus your degree, books, unpaid placements, etc.
Warhammer: Anyone who has tried to start an army from scratch will have reeled in horror at the cost of models, rule book, codex, paints, etc, even before considering Forge World models or, shudder, a Primarch miniature.

2. About those books…
Law: My degree was 20 years ago, but I assume that you still need to fork out mega £ for all those massive tomes that will sit largely unused on your desk as you plough through your degree, except when you look up that BDSM criminal case about onanism with a sandpaper filled cardboard tube, or possibly Factortame just to see what all the fuss was about..
Warhammer: Want to play 40k? Here's the rule book. And here's the erratum update. And here's the codex. By the way, can we interest you in this fine collection of 45 (and growing) Horus Heresy books? £££ please.

3. Complete Rule Overhaul:
Law: The CPR
Warhammer: The End Times drawing Fantasy to a close, replacing with Age Of Sigmar.
In both instance, Chaos (no pun intended) ensues as people try to get up to date and come to terms with the new regime.

4. Things badly written:
Law: This part of the CPR conflicts with that bit.
Warhammer: Dear god, have you ever tried to read anything written by C S Goto?

5. Needless ongoing rule tinkering:
Law: The Gazette is basically White Dwarf without the cool pictures of miniatures, but instead with headshots of various people in practice (the unkind may draw parallels with orks, sorry, uruks, eldar, nurglites, etc). Practice updates may read "The P36 rules for Claimants are now 21 days for acceptance, with a 4D6 save following late acceptance of offer within 7 days of Trial"
Warhammer: "The movement rules for Chaos Space Marines are now 6", with a 4D6 save following loss of morale"*

6. People grow out of it
Law: "Sod this, I'm going to teach scuba diving in Thailand". How many of your LPC buddies are still lawyers?
Warhammer: "I really need to get out more”

7. Both run by people who don't listen to the profession/ players:
Law: Law Society and SRA. Utterly divorced from reality.
Warhammer: Games Workshop and in particular Matt Ward. Utterly divorced from reality.

8. Other parallels
Law: The SLA. Beholden to no one, heavy handed, deaf to all pleas of reason, merciless.
Warhammer: The Inquisition
Law: Lord Denning
Warhammer: The Emperor

*Yeah, I’m out of date. I don’t fee earn anymore. Sue me.

Roll On Friday 03 August 18 10:42

I was trying to get Lady Justice Hallett in there too, but the Warhammer universes simply don't contain anyone that awesome: the Grimdark doesn't allow it.

Anonymous 03 August 18 13:33

This will not go well and I bet there is some very long course with high fees plus the fee for the Squeeler multiple choice exam or whatever it will be.

Roll On Friday 03 August 18 15:51

You're a braver entity than I, Nonny 14:10.
I confess I agonised over that one for a good 10 minutes, but decided to keep it gender neutral and avoid the possibility of offence or, worse, mid-gendering.
Warhammer is a hobby capable of being enjoyed by anyone identifying as one (or more) of the 38 recognised genders (or, indeed, any currently unrecognised gender), regardless of the state of his/ her/ xer testicles.

Check out the full discussion board for more details: It's very woke ;)

Anonymous 03 August 18 16:29

Lack of competition for designing/running the SQE aside, the issue of access to the profession isn't necessarily just the cost of a degree/LPC, it's also the bottleneck of a large number of LPC grads and simply not enough training contracts for them all. Lowing the cost and having even more isnt going to solve that issue, it's only going to make it worse. This then opens up the possibility of abuse by some law firms of LPC/SQE grads to work them hard for around minimum wage in a paralegal postilion which has no scope for progression if they cant get the few training contracts on offer.
The only way to stop that bottleneck is for the SRA to force firms to take more trainees, but they wont do that - or will they?

Anonymous 04 August 18 21:25

Why would the SRA force firms to take trainees? In my experience those who are good enough to get a training contract get one and those who aren’t don’t. It’s pretty self regulating. It’s also obvious from a distance.