26/06/2019

The Solicitors Qualification Examination - Will It All End In Tiers?

With the first round of trials complete, the Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) is rapidly moving from concept to reality.

However, the criticism of SQE is following a similar path, with the pilot launch bringing forth heightened levels of comment on the change that is ahead. Following a recent negative commentary on the pilot examination and the impact that the super exam structure may have on trainee salaries, it was notable that delegates at the recent Legal Cheek Future of Education and Training Conference were concerned regarding the development of a ‘two-tier profession’.

This highlighted the commonly held view that SQE will be delivered via differing models, with those at the top of the practice seeking SQE programmes aligned with Masters qualifications, whilst the remainder of LLB graduates will be left with the cheaper SQE stand-alone programme. Perhaps this point fails to reflect the view that there may well be a third tier to consider – namely those students who continue to progress with the Legal Practice Certificate (LPC), a qualification which will be available for students to complete up until 2033.

For Universities and Legal Education providers, this may be considered a time of change and opportunity, but for students, it represents a significant challenge in ensuring that their next study programme provides the best basis for their intended legal career.

A commonly held view is that people hire people who remind them of themselves, and so with most of the legal profession counting the LPC amongst their range of qualifications, it may well be a case that the old one, may indeed still be a good one.

 

Ian Bowden (Lecturer)

Law

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