Chair of the Law Society’s education and training committee Alan East answers questions about being a trainee during the Covid-19 outbreak
Q. I am taking my LPC this year. Will my exams be cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak?
A. Exams will not be cancelled. The SRA has announced they will be altering the assessment arrangements for all parts of the LPC to enable as many students as possible to sit their exams.
For core LPC subjects, the requirements for supervised assessments will be maintained but the SRA will consider applications to conduct this remotely or online.
LPC providers will be free to make whichever alternative arrangements they feel are most appropriate for skills assessments and elective subjects.
Should a student be unable to sit their exam, it is important to note that trainees can start their training contract before finishing the LPC.
During the current outbreak, it is important to strike the right balance between flexibility and maintaining standards of entry to the profession.
Since the outbreak began, the Law Society has urged the SRA to adopt a more flexible approach and it is hugely encouraging to see them take this on board.
Despite these measures, there will be some students who cannot or do not get the chance to complete their assessment and we will continue to work with the SRA to ensure that adequate arrangements are made as soon as conditions allow.
Q. How will I be supervised as a trainee during the outbreak? What happens if I am furloughed?
A. The SRA has said it is happy for trainees to work from home and be supervised remotely which gives firms the flexibility they need during the ‘lockdown’ period.
If you are furloughed you should still maintain communication with your firm so that all involved can keep up to date with the evolving situation. When you are taken off furlough, the firm should discuss your training with you and contact the SRA to determine whether your training period needs to be extended.
We are aware of concerns around the impact of being furloughed on timescales for qualifying and are continuing to engage with the SRA to support those entering the profession.
Q. What happens if I have a new training contract or am qualifying this year for newly qualified positions?
A. It is impossible to know at this time how the Covid-19 outbreak might affect training contracts which are yet to start. If you are in this situation you should contact the firm to ask them for an update.
If you are currently training with a firm, you should communicate with your employer to find out how Covid-19 might affect workforce planning for the next year.
Unfortunately, much of the legal profession is experiencing difficulties and it is an evolving situation. You could also consider speaking with a specialist legal recruiter about the newly qualified job market.
Q. Will Covid-19 affect the Solicitors Qualifying Exam?
A. The SRA has said they do not expect the SQE to be affected by Covid-19 and are continuing with their start date of autumn 2021.
The Law Society is aware of concerns within the profession regarding this change and preparedness and is continuing to engage with the SRA on the SQE as it is developed.
For more information on how education and training is affected by the outbreak, visit the SRA information page.
The Law Society has also published more information on this.
Alan East, chair of the Law Society’s education and training committee