Educational services giant Kaplan will develop and run the planned solicitors’ ‘super-exam’, the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed today. US-headquartered Kaplan, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings, former owner of the Washington Post newspaper, claims to provide education, training and assessment in 30 countries, including in law, accountancy and banking. Its UK activities include running the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme.

It has won an eight-year contract to run the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) on behalf of the SRA. It will not provide training.

The SQE will be a single assessment for all aspiring solicitors. It is due to come into force by 2020 at the earliest.

It will consist of two parts: part one will be a computer-based assessment, which may include multiple choice questions while part two will test practical legal skills and be taken after a period of work-based training. The SRA is yet to announce the proposed cost taking the exam, as well as finer details of the exam’s contents.

Although the full cost will be determined once the final design is fixed, the regulator said it will provide ‘guidance on indicative costs’ in September. 

The reform has been highly controversial. The Legal Services Board twice delayed approving the SRA’s proposals after opposition from legal academics and City solicitors. The House of Commons’ justice committee also weighed into the debate and called for a six month delay to the LSB’s approval process. Concerns have included a lack of detail over what the exam will entail and the fact that a requirement for students to have an undergraduate law degree or conversion course has been dropped.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: ‘We are now another step closer to delivering a rigorous assessment that helps build trust that all qualifying solicitors are meeting the same high standards, regardless of their route into the profession.’

Peter Houillon, chief executive of Kaplan, said: ‘We look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to build and deliver a world class SQE.’