The Law Society has welcomed the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s decision to delay plans for a new ‘super-exam’ to be taken by all would-be solicitors, after the proposal attracted an overwhelmingly negative response.
SRA executive director Crispin Passmore revealed last week that a consultation had received some 250 responses. Of these around 40-50 were ‘wholly positive’, about 100 were ‘wholly negative’, and around 100 said they were ‘not keen on this as you’ve designed it at the moment’, he said.
‘Considerable’ opposition came from universities and academic representative groups. However, the SRA insists that the case for the solicitors qualifying exam remains strong.
The regulator had planned to make a decision this month on the principle of introducing the exam and then consult on the details. It will now work on more detailed proposals, including how the exam could work alongside a period of work-based learning.
The SRA’s decision to postpone was widely welcomed. Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘It’s important the relevant stakeholders have ample opportunity to take a holistic view of how the qualification process would work and to ensure that the best are able to enter the profession irrespective of background.’
He said that Philip’s comments on the inclusion of a two-year work-based training period and a degree-level qualification ‘are a positive indication that feedback from the Law Society is being taken on board by the SRA’.
The Law Society has said it strongly supports centralised assessment – provided that the level is set appropriately and does not result in a dilution of standards.