SRA training shakeup will hit solicitor brand – survey

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A survey by Leeds Law Society of the training revolution proposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has found that 60% of the 150 respondents fear the changes would harm the solicitor brand.

Another 26% thought focusing on a centralised point-of-admission exam rather than prescribing the route to qualification might damage the profession’s reputation, while only 8% believe the changes would improve standards.


Leeds solicitor Catherine Woodward, a member of the society’s board of directors, said the SRA’s proposals for a Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) prompted detailed comments from more than half of the respondents.

Almost all respondents wanted to see the qualifying law degree and conversion course retained, with a third suggesting centralised marking to ensure consistency. The most criticised aspect of the current process was the Legal Practice Course (LPC), but more than half believed it should be reformed rather than abolished.

Just under two-thirds wanted the training contract/period of recognised training retained, with nearly a third suggesting there should centralised testing at the end to ensure consistency.

On the proposed SQE, respondents broadly agreed that any centralised test should assess all the elements of the degree, LPC and training contract – as well as soft skills and professional conduct.

But Woodward said there was concern that it would not be able to cater for the bespoke nature of the training contract.

One respondent commented: ‘If candidates are not fit for qualification at the end of the training contract, this means that either the firm is not training them properly so it should not be taking on trainees, or the candidate should not have passed the degree/GDL/LPC stages’.

Readers' comments (10)

  • "The solicitor brand"...doesn't that say it all? Just as if we were one of Heinz 57 Varieties.

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  • Allowing candidates to pay for and sit the LPC without a training contract is scandalous. Fat chance that will be changed- turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind.

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  • lowering the standards lets more in to an overcrowded profession but more importantly it gives SRA more to regulate and is a bigger empire - same as giving nurses doctors' work and PCSO's the work of a constable. Cheap is the new philosophy

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  • As far as the public are concerned the solicitor brand is toxic. I left the profession four years ago following a redundancy at age 50 without the contacts necessary to secure solicitor employment and though it's financially very hard, I'm glad to be out of what is now a sordid trade.
    The behaviour of the two firms in the news this year who are out in the Middle East trawling for claims against members of HM Forces have put the final nail in the coffin of a once honourable profession, and to my mind the only solution is to a) restore the 1979s Code of Professional Conduct backed up with criminal sanctions and b) to give real help to people wanting to leave the profession including funded training and help with run off costs.
    If I were offered re-training at 55 I'd take it like a shot as retirement is never going to be an option.

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  • 'Solicitor brand'

    - I say, isn't our modern world just wonderful !!


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  • 04:38 pm - Anonymous....the solicitor "brand" has always been toxic to the public as long as I can remember. People have never liked the idea that someone else understand something better than they do and that they have to pay that person to help them through. I'm sure we'd all like not to have to rely on all sorts of experts and have to pay them, but that's life. My circumstances are not unlike yours (04.30pm) except that I am still working but on a self-employed basis and am just as busy as I ever was. I'm not sure I'd re-train in my 50's although I do have to say that if I was currently about 40 I would not hesitate. The current position has been deliberately inflamed by successive Governments since the 80's who don't want a strong legal profession...and they are doing a great job because it seems that the individuals in the profession are incapable of doing anything meaningfull to fight back...but perhaps that is the fault of The Law Society who have spectacularly failed to inspire us all to do anything - actually let's face it they haven't even tried to inspire us which is pretty disgraceful and I really do wonder what TLS is actually for. the persons in charge are clearly too worried about ruffling feathers which make TLS as much use as a chocolate teapot. Feathers desperately need a lot of ruffling!

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  • The moaning and groaning will not stop the sea of change affecting the legal services sector, nor will it stop the rewrite of the LSA and inevitable introduction of more Approved Regulators able to authorise its membership to conduct litigation and perform reserved activities. So Solicitors, and those that regulate them, have a choice, either make becoming a solicitor a desirable less expensive process, without over regulation and without subjecting applicants to costly examination at every possible opportunity, without insisting that after the student jumps through all the hoops and pass all the examinations they still have to undertake a two year TC, or simply loose out to the opposition, who will provide the same legal services in direct competition. There is already an erosion of the solicitor’s status in the provision of legal services, and that’s not likely to be reversed. Either the LS and SRA adapt to change in the hope of staying relevant, or they will lose their position at the table, it really is that simple.

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  • I am consistently suprised and disappointed by the amount of people posting comments who by their negativity are only adding to the downgrading of the profession. I am in private practice and I am doing very well thank you. I enjoy the work and I am hansomely financially rewarded for it. Those commentators who keep moaning about how bad they have it should leave the profession and take up another job where they will achieve job satisfaction. If you run a firm prudently and look after your staff and clients there is no better vocation. We need good competent people in the profession and not moaners and discontents.

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  • As a former Training Principal I have viewed the new proposals with interest. Anon at 5.50pm has a point. Since about 2009 I have had the impression that more TC applicants are privately educated (my firm didn't monitor this particular statistic: it is a personal impression), reflecting the great cost of becoming a solicitor, and the huge risk if you are not from a moneyed background.

    These proposals are consistent with the wish to open up the profession to those who cannot afford to seek to qualify in the way which was required between 1980 and now (degree, CPE if not a law degree, LPC, training contract). The idea of the SQE is that whatever permitted route folks take to qualify, the SQE will ensure that all who qualify will attain the same minimum standard. While I am sceptical that this can be achieved, I think the intention is laudable.

    As for the SQE being derided as some sort of 'LPC lite', and it will allow those unfitted to the profession to become solicitors: well, surely we have all come across solicitors (qualifying via the LPC) whose grasp of the law and professional ethics was somewhat shaky?

    The practice of law, and how you got to be a solicitor, has changed greatly over the years, and it is unrealistic to expect the process required for the last 35 years to remain unchanged whatever happens.

    As for public opprobrium of lawyers: anon at 5.32 has a point.
    "And thus the most opprobrious fame
    Attends upon the attorney's name.
    Nay, the professors seem ashamed
    To have their legal title named;
    Unless my observation errs
    They're all become Solicitors."

    From 'The English Dance of Death', 1815.

    If embarrassed to be solicitors, perhaps we should revert to calling ourselves attorneys instead?

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  • Anonymous @ 5.50 - will the profession have an ever-greater number of regulators or will it in fact be reduced to one regulator overall. I suspect the latter.

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