The Law Society has called for reassurance after plans aimed at putting the solicitors’ ‘super-exam’ into practice appear to suggest that part of the new training regime for would-be solicitors could take place in organisations where no solicitors work.
In a consultation document published this week, the Solicitors Regulation Authority seeks feedback on the regulations needed to put the exam into place.
The document contains no details about what the exam will actually include or how much it will cost. Instead it outlines what solicitors will need in order to be eligible to take the assessment, including holding a degree ‘or equivalent qualification’.
On required work experience, the document confirms that ‘at least two years’ is needed at no more than four separate firms, educational institutions or other organisations.
However, it gives three options for developing competences for solicitors during training and proposes that these be given by either; the organisation’s compliance officer for legal practice (COLP), a solicitor working within the organisation or ‘if neither of those options are applicable’, another solicitor.
Law Society president Robert Bourns said the Society ‘will need reassurance’ if the regulations show that training will be provided in entities that have neither a COLP nor a qualified solicitor working within them.
‘It is clear that the SRA has a great deal of work to do before the SQE can be implemented. During this period there will inevitably be uncertainty for those entering the profession,’ Bourns said. ‘We will examine this consultation closely. Our aim is to ensure the SQE maintains consistent and high standards for those entering the profession.’
The consultation also shows that the SRA is considering implementing an ‘administrative fee’ for qualified lawyers who apply for admission in England & Wales, though there is no hint as to what the fee will be.
Also included is confirmation that the exam is due be rolled out by 2020 and that people entering the profession before this date can choose to qualify under the old or new regulations.
The consultation is open until 26 July.