The Solicitors Qualifying Exam could halve the cost of qualification for some students, a legal consultancy has said, estimating that £21m is wasted each year by graduates who never get training contracts.
A study by Hook Tangaza, which was commissioned by legal training provider Barbri, found that under the SQE self-funded students will stand to save anywhere between 25% and 50% in training costs.
Based on numbers from recent years, Hook Tangaza found that the average cost of solicitor qualification is around £24,000, with 85% of non-law graduates funding the conversion course themselves.
Annually, 15% - or £21m – of qualification costs are spent by students who never qualify, according to the study.
US legal education giant Barbri announced last night that it will be offering a SQE preparation course for £6,000. Together with the cost of the exams themselves, this takes the total price to just under £10,000.
Students will have the option to take courses of varying length depending on their situation, with the first SQE 1 programme beginning in January 2021.
The Legal Services Board has yet to approve the SQE and has delayed its decision until the end of October.
In an extension notice sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the LSB said it needs to make additional enquiries about the Solicitors Qualifying Exam to ‘fully understand the impact of the proposed change for both consumers and the profession’.
The overhaul of legal training has been met with resistance from some areas of the profession, with solicitors claiming the SQE will lower standards and risk creating a two-tier profession.
Training providers have also said they are still unsure what form SQE 2 will take, so are still unable to prepare courses for future students.