The SQE may improve access to the profession but it does not address the issue of firms recruiting those who have undertaken internships.
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) may improve access to the profession for those from less privileged backgrounds and women wishing to enter the profession. But it will not deal completely with systemic problems of unfairness which blight the recruitment of trainees. Until those problems are addressed, the SQE is unlikely to overcome fundamental barriers to widening access.
I am referring to the noticeable increase in the expectation that applicants for training contracts have undertaken numerous internships, many of which are unpaid and unadvertised. Seven times as many internships are unadvertised as advertised, according to a recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Presumably, under the workplace training proposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the sector will continue to recruit trainees from the small pool of applicants who have had the means and connections to secure internships. We ask the SRA to look at this issue urgently.
Angela Hogan, Chair, Association of Women Solicitors (London)