The SRA’s plan to introduce a centralised ‘super-exam’, with little detail as to how an aspiring solicitor would get themselves test-ready, was always going to usher in a heated debate. Entry to the profession is an emotive topic.
In a field of many competing voices, those of junior and would-be lawyers should be heard above others (see roundtable).
Their generation has most to lose from a mis-step, and they tend to have learned (often from bitter experience) about critical issues such as debt and discrimination. Lacking the power of career hindsight, they also have an eye on what would expand (and limit) their future career options.
The SQE proposal fails on these and related issues – for example, wide divergence from the requirements of the bar, and the likely demands of City law firms, could lead to a ‘two-tier’ profession.
By the junior lawyers’ account, the SQE consultation is also poorly choreographed. It does not meet the obvious necessity of synchronising with the need of academic institutions to plan well ahead. And, as the data shows that more students are falling prey to payday lenders, there is a real danger that potential entrants could end up with no option but to tap expensive commercial loans.
How will that help boost diversity in a sector where diversity has gone into reverse, and in which the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is becoming ever more prominent?