diversity prayer

And lo, His answer did not help the SRA.


The SRA has 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 dramatic SQE1 exams, the pass rate for black candidates was 23%, compared to 63% for white candidates.

Under the old exam regime which has been replaced by the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, BAME candidates fared worse overall in the LPC than their white counterparts, with a pass rate of 40% for black students in 2018 compared to 80% for white students. 

A 2019 pilot of the SQE found BAME candidates continuing to perform more poorly as a group than white candidates. The disparity prompted the SRA to drop the written element of SQE1 and replace it with a multiple choice model, on the basis that requiring written answers "may set an unnecessary barrier to qualification which disadvantages BAME candidates".

But when the first SQE 1 results came out last year, they showed a similar gulf, with a pass rate of 39% for black candidates compared to 66% for white candidates. That carried through to the inaugural SQE 2, with a 53% pass rate for black candidates, compared to 85% for white candidates.

The stubborn persistence of 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.

Lubna Shuja, the new president of the Law Society, said, "We remain concerned about this gap, particularly as one of the aims of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam was to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession". She encouraged the regulator to "continue to monitor closely whether the situation is worsening or improving with the move to SQE — and if so, why".

In order to tackle the problem, the regulator commissioned Exeter University to conduct research "to explore the reasons for differential performance in professional assessments by candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds", with the academics' findings expected in early 2023.

The SRA noted that analysis "should be treated with caution" because candidate numbers were small for some groups. In this year's SQE1, 756 candidates were white, 115 were black, and 553 were Asian. Asian candidates achieved a 54% pass rate.

Anna Bradley, the Chair of the SRA, said, "We anticipated that we would again see the troubling difference in performance for candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups that has been a longstanding and widespread feature in examinations in the legal and other sectors". 

She said, "We know the reasons will be complex and, as well as ongoing review and analysis, we have appointed Exeter University to carry out in-depth research to better understand the factors driving the attainment gap for these groups in professional assessments, so that we can do everything we can to address the issues".

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Comments

Bovver 14 October 22 07:59

Poor old SRA beating itself up over race when it'll be a nexus of other factors disadvantaging BAME candidates - was a higher proportion of that cohort less well educated, and had English as a second language, etc? Unfortunately from the released stats it's impossible to see those overlaps which probably explain this. 

Irritated 14 October 22 08:21

553 were Asian. Asian candidates achieved a 54% pass rate. Yet there are many ‘Asian’ ie of Indian descent, partners in City law firms. It would be useful to have a proper breakdown, we are not just ‘Asian.’

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:53

"A 2019 pilot of the SQE found BAME candidates continuing to perform more poorly as a group than white candidates. The disparity prompted the SRA to drop the written element of SQE1 and replace it with a multiple choice model, on the basis that requiring written answers "may set an unnecessary barrier to qualification which disadvantages BAME candidates"."

Great idea - as if a lawyer would need to provide written answers to clients. I am drafting my next advice adopting the multiple choice model.

Tony 14 October 22 08:55

@Anon 08:33 the other comments were sensible and you're spouting some worrying rhetoric.  

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:02

Do the SRA figures include overseas applicants? I know when I was sitting the QLTT, there was a chap who was a cousin of one of the partners at the firm I was working for at the time, who came from overseas every year to sit it, failed it every year, and then did the same thing at the next sitting ad infinitum.

I wonder if he's still going with the QLTS and SQE? 

Finneus Fudge 14 October 22 09:08

How come white candidates are so under-represented? 53% of stated candidates (guess there were other ethnicities not mentioned) but 87% of British population.

Staring in face 14 October 22 09:09

The obvious solution is to permit people to identify as another race, then deify the white, middle class, privately-educated people who do it. Hey presto, problem solved - great results for everyone. And you're even more diverse than before. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:16

'Anonymous 14 October 22 09:02 Do the SRA figures include overseas applicants?'

Yes. Good luck to him. In a few years he'll get there, when the SQE is one question (tickbox): 'Do you want to be a solicitor? Yes/No'

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:27

You really need a statistician to work put the real trends for this.

Escaping Puppy 14 October 22 09:31

SRA on diversity drive, but only for the right type of diversity.

Around 65% of people admitted to the role are female and this has been the case for about the last 15 years.

Considering that the population is roughly 50/50 male/female split, how is this 'diversity'?

Curious 14 October 22 09:45

Is Exeter University really the best institution to ask about how to improve racial diversity?

Progressively Worse 14 October 22 10:10

Not to worry, if we just keep changing the test over and over again until it outputs the results we expect / hope for then we'll get there in the end.

We'll worry about its utility as any kind of useful barometer of actual capability then, and not before. The most important thing is that it gives us a sufficient number of Diverse winners.

Now, I'm off to moan about the poor state of the British economy and to blame it all on the evil Tories. I just don't understand how we keep putting such idiots in charge, and how this kind of moron seems to keep rising to the top of our economic, media and political organisations. It's almost as if there's no form of screening in place to stop it happening, and I just can't understand how it keeps getting worse year after year.

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:16

Until they look at other factors like whether the candidates had taken prep courses, and whether English was a native language for them, it's all a bit of a meaningless comparison. 

I'm sure they will address it shortly. 14 October 22 10:48

Another year of white applicants, in particular male ones being woefully underrepresented in the professions. I await the hundreds of thousands of pounds, internships and mentoring programmes that will be funnelled into addressing this matter.

Anonymous 14 October 22 12:23

Familiar with the dingy-sized Indian firms in Hounslow as well as small city firms on fleet street run by cockney convict types, I would say numbers don't matter. Job titles are marketing scams.

Good lawyers are hard to come by, without politics meddling with academics, stirring up racial emotions. 

If you don't see colour, you don't need to promote race equality when it is too late. This should be conclusive at secondary or university levels. If you can't get in an English law school at 18, regardless of race, in reality, you are discriminated in some way regardless the government's equality drives.

If you can't even pass an MCQ style assessment, that's not because you are racially discriminated or owed a living of your choice. 

Times and again you uplift some working class school drop out to paralegal and part-time university graduate to qualify as a solicitor, and they end up spending most of their times playing office politics rather than actually working and growing, or be moved on to management to protect the client from harm of these negligent solicitors. 

Stop the charity and anticompetitive practice, and you will find that London will outrun the white professions like Surrey and Sussex just fine.

 

Dunc 14 October 22 12:26

Yet more BS pushing of leftist equality of outcome (which has NEVER EVER worked) when it should just be about equality of opportunity. I bet the SRA would be silent if the pass rate was low among white candidates but high among black candidates

Tarka 14 October 22 12:36

I identify as an otter.  Am I the first otter to pass? 

Lydia 14 October 22 13:29

SQE1 exam (which replaces an LLB or a year's law conversion and which you could in theory study in your bed room at home without a single law course) is 100% multiple choice because it was found in trials that  certain groups were not good with written English and presumably the SRA thought being able to write English in contracts etc was not very important and the customers would not suffer if the lawyers cannot do that accurately.

 

Yet when the multiple choice SQE1 is found still to result in those with bad English failing it still thinks it needs to fix things. Surely it is the same as saying if someone cannot become a surgeon because their hands shake we change the exam so you can do the surgery even if you have shaking hands and it does not matter if patients die.

The whole thing is a mess as all decent firms want an LLB or else a PGDL so students are still having to think about doing a law conversion and paying for it before SQE courses and exams but on top of that they have £4ik payable to Kaplan just to sit the exams.

Anonymous 14 October 22 13:58

@Tarka - no, there have been many otters.

BAME is not Black 14 October 22 16:08

I’m not sure how helpful these type of articles are but it’s even less helpful if you use black and BAME (which is an acronym for everyone that isn’t white) interchangeably:

“Under the old exam regime which has been replaced by the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, BAME candidates fared worse overall in the LPC than their white counterparts, with a pass rate of 40% for black students in 2018 compared to 80% for white students. “

Chorlton 14 October 22 17:12

I had a Chicken Tarka Massala for tea the other night.  Just like a Chicken Tikka Massala but a little otter.

E Powell 14 October 22 17:31

They failed because they were not good enough, not because the colour of there skin.

Jamie Hamilton 14 October 22 22:11

BAME is not Black 14 October 22 16:08: I wasn’t using them interchangeably. I was saying the BAME result wasn’t great, and within that the black cohort’s result was etc etc. My fault, unclear writing.

Carine 15 October 22 09:56

The comment made about the quality of education  in a candidate's past, like having good English verbal and written skills is very right. If we trained doctors and surgeons in the way the SRA is trying to do, patients would be dying of complications. How is a Lawyer different to a doctor? Both are professional, have a regulator and require extensive training.

Anonymous 16 October 22 07:33

A lot of them don't really speak fluent English, end of story. 

Let's make it easy 16 October 22 20:01

Must remember to give these people the non English part of the job, and definately no freelance writing, just multiple choice answers. I am sure my clients will understand me charging hundreds of pounds per hour for this service. SRA you really are trying to make the profession a laughing stock. 

Anonimoose 18 October 22 07:02

Insofar as the SRA is comfortable that those ethnic groups with lower pass rates were given equal opportunity, it should not lose sleep over not achieving equality of outcome. 

Anonymous 18 October 22 15:14

What the SQE did take into account is that legal professionals with the power to screen and hire new legal staff have started acting against the company's best interest in order to save their own jobs.

They may claim it is to prevent a high churn out rate to turn down qualified candidates with too much experience within a number of years, but the truth is, they want to pass the SQE asap, but they fear their plan will be ruined by a younger and hungrier person who will qualify before they do, which will make them look very bad before the boss. 

Companies HR managers or directors should never let the lawyers high other lawyers. 

Anonymous 18 October 22 16:09

Any take on the solicitor's apprenticeship? Before you even finish your first degree, you are off to the mills six days a week, keeping the partner's diary and keep sweet. While there is a surplus of law graduates struggling to find legal work. Is this a regulated industry? It's more like a slave trade.

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