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.
A £4,500 exam is only cheaper than a £16,700 LPC that includes the exam, if learning the material costs less than £12,200. I have a sneaking suspicion that most people might require a bit of help learning what previously took a lot of full time study to learn.
Sure - if you want to give me £12K, I am very happy to tell you how to write a memo and dress yourself.
Sorry, I mean, provide comparable value add to the LPC.
No system is perfect but this clearly seems like a step in the right direction. RoF will no doubt pooh-pooh these efforts despite the fact they've never been a fan of the LPC either.
noble or not, anything left to the SRA to organise will be p*ss-poor and no doubt still cost a fortune.
My suspicion is they want to force everyone back to the good ol’ days of articles clerks where the Law Soc and (now) SRA do sod all but justify their existence simply for the sake of having it. Then in a few years time they’ll no doubt shuffle the deck chairs again oblivious to the rising waterline...
Am I mad for thinking that an post-training contract exam doesn't make much sense? By the end of the training contract, people are already specialised. Testing an incipient City lawyer who has done a cycle of seats in corporate/banking etc. (and who is about to qualify into a career of PE funds or something) on probate and unregistered land just doesn't seem like a valuable exercise to me. I suspect one will see magic circle trainees struggling to pass, because they will be having to dredge up law school memories whilst working 18 hours a day...
Good point made by the person above, saying "Am I mad for thinking that an post-training contract exam doesn't make much sense? By the end of the training contract, people are already specialised." This will be an absolute nightmare for future trainees. Why has anyone down-voted that post? Having to study areas of law which one has no interest in, and will never be touching ever again, was annoying on the LPC, but at least that was two years before qualifying. The SQE is joke, and the SRA should be ashamed (though, sadly, I feel that they lack the capacity for shame).
In my view, the LPC was fine: the only problem was when people were daft enough to do it without a training contract. Getting a training contract *first* was the only sensible way to do it.
I wood SQE new eta: 2021. Fo shiz.
Unfortunately I will likely be dead by then because this job is rubbish. Could be worse; could(n't) have gone into medicine...