SRA takes central exam plan on the road

Topics: Junior lawyers,Regulation and compliance,Legal Education

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority is taking its plans to create a central qualifying exam for all would-be lawyers on the road, in an effort to let students and solicitors have more of a say on its proposals.

The SRA floated the idea of the central exam for trainees in December as a way to ensure all trainee solicitors reach the same ‘high standard of competence’. The regulator said it hoped the exam will facilitate more flexible routes to qualification.

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In order to promote discussion around the proposals, the SRA is inviting solicitors, education and training providers and students to a series of consultation events, which will take place in locations including Birmingham, Bristol and London.

The regulator said the events will give anyone who is interested in the changes a chance to voice their opinion, and hear more about why the proposals are needed and how they would work.

Already the 'solicitors qualifying exam' scheme has come under fire, with the Law Society condemning the plans as a barrier to some of the best talent, and damaging to social mobility.

University professors and lawyers have also criticised the plans for not going far enough in helping to restructure legal training – and of trying to over-regulate the profession.

A consultation on the proposed plans will run until 4 March 2016, while the events will take place throughout February.  

Readers' comments (9)

  • And who's paying for this 'jolly'?

    (BTW In the 1970s all prospective solicitors had to have passed the same exams... Plus ca change!)

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  • Will this exam be in addition to the requirements of a law degree/Graduate Diploma in Law, Legal Practice Course, training contract/period of recognised training and Professional Skills Course? If so, is there any justification for constructing yet another hoop for would-be solicitors to jump through, all at great expense?

    So far, my firm and I have spent around £16,000 (not counting the cost of my undergraduate degree) and I am still months away from being admitted to the rolls. Erecting another expensive barrier to entry is going to deter people from ordinary backgrounds, who don’t have rich parents, from entering the profession. If this is what the SRA wants then they should be honest about it and stop harping on about equality and diversity.

    On the other hand, if the central exam were to replace the LPC and PSC then it may actually be a very good idea. There is no way that you can replace the training contract or period of recognised training though – solicitors need hands on experience and not just academic qualifications.

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  • What was wrong with the old part 1 (or degree in law) and part 2 exams plus 2 years Articles?

    Answer - nothing. That's why they had to change it. Remember, we do live in the UK after all !!


    LB

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  • I could not have put it better myself, My Lord. This is just a sort of musical chairs, or merry-go-round. And I'll bet they stay in the top hotels, drink the finest wines at dinner, travel first class, taxis everywhere. And who's paying for all this. You are, you who pay the PC fees

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  • Why don't they stay at home and regulate? And if that means that their workforce hasn't enough to do, do like the rest of us and reduce its size to that which is just suffient to do its allocated task efficiently and effectively. At present it appears that the SRA is spinning off into collateral activities simply, presumably, to justify its existence, its budget and its workforce. And all in the knowledge that someone else will pay for this.

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  • @Anonymous15 January 2016 04:28 pm:

    You mean stay at home and regulate the right people and as these are now in the main insurance companies, and the FCA itself does a good job of non-regulation, that means doing nothing.

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  • Interesting though, because the Claims Handling society and Bar Frequenting Council, wah on about equality of entry, yet the most equal the two branches of the 'profession' were was when they had proper tough professional exams.

    Why? working class kids passed them (even if only with dogged determination, eventually), whilst many soggy biscuit playing public School - Algenrons did not.

    Simple.

    Thats why they abolished them. All-comers exams with an extremely tough and high pass rate / mark.

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  • Leave school, 5 years on the job training, intermediate and final exams, admitted. What's wrong with that?

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  • Spot on, Richard. Those five years were more valuable than the two after university and College of Law. And you were finished by 21.

    Plus the younger you start the more malleable the mind, no preconceived ideas contracted at some university mass debating society.

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