The Solicitors Qualification Exam
In April 2017 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced that it is going ahead with plans to introduce a new centralised qualifying exam - the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE). This will take the place of the LPC and so the pathway to qualification as a solicitor is set to change in the near future.
Many of our students are aiming for a career as a solicitor, or considering this as a possible option. The standard pathway to become a solicitor currently requires graduates to gain a qualifying law degree or a postgraduate diploma in law before moving on to do the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Following this there is then a two-year period of training within a firm, called a training contract.
What might the SQE mean for you?
If you do not intend to become a solicitor, then the introduction of the SQE will have little impact on you at all - this includes those of you who intend to practice as a barrister. Even if you want to become a solicitor, the introductions of the SQE will not happen before 2020 so again it will have no impact on your route to qualification. Even after 2020, there will be a period whereby students who have already started their legal studies will be able to choose whether to qualify through the new route (the SQE) or the traditional one (via the LPC). If you do choose to follow the new pathway, it is expected that the first part of the SQE will test your ability to use and apply legal knowledge. The second stage will test your practical legal skills. The second part of the SQE will be taken only after completing a substantial period of workplace training (likely to be 2 years).
What does this mean for the School of Law and Social Justice?
Law has a long tradition at the University of Liverpool, having been taught to undergraduate students for over 100 years! As always, we will continue to monitor the developments around legal training and the SQE closely. There are a number of points of details which have not yet been confirmed by the SRA such as the areas of law to be covered under the first stage and how much the SQE will cost to sit. We will continue to engage in dialogue with the SRA and others in the lead up to the launch of the SQE. We are, of course committed to keeping all of our students informed and you can expect regular updates over the next year. Whether you intend to qualify as a solicitor or not, preparing you for the job market is a very important aspect of what we do. Together with our colleagues in the University Careers and Employability Service we will continue to offer all our students guidance and advice to empower you to pursue you professional aspirations.
Where to find more information
There is more detail on qualifying as a solicitor, and the planned changes, at www.sra.org.uk. If you are a current student at the School of Law and Social Justice, you can also speak to your academic advisor.
What about entry to the Bar?
For intending barristers, the current entry route is the Bar Professional Training Course. The Bar Standards Board will be consulting on its entire qualification route from 20 September to 20 December 2017. At this stage, it is impossible to predict the outcomes of this consultation process, but Liverpool Law School will ensure that our students are not disadvantaged by any changes. Further information will be provided as and when it becomes available.
Dr Rob Stokes
Director of Education in Law
The School of Law and Social Justice