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Solicitors Regulation Authority gives official backing to plan to scrap the LPC

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New solicitor super-exam would be open to non-graduates and make law degrees optional

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The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has given its official backing to a solicitor super-exam that would spell the end of the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

The proposed epic centralised test — or Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE), to give it its proper title — has finally received the green light from the profession’s regulator today after weeks of flirting with the radical move.

The SRA hopes that the universal exam — that will test key elements of a law degree, LPC and even a training contract — will provide a competency “benchmark” for the profession. A consultation on the proposal opened today.

With legal education providers currently responsible for assessing a student’s knowledge, the current system, according to the SRA, fails to “measure candidates on a consistent or comparable basis”. With all aspiring solicitors regardless of their previous education or training having to sit the super-exam — which would be centrally-assessed — the SRA hopes to solve this problem.

In theory, anyone off the street feeling brave enough could have a pop at the exam, but it’s likely in reality that many will still undertake a law degree first, or one of the specially-tailored new preparation courses that would surely be created by law schools to cater for the new exam. The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) may also survive in some form.

However the same cannot be said for the LPC. The vocational course — that essentially acts a bridge between academic study and training at your chosen law firm — would die a death under the plan, potentially saving students as much as £15,000. With major overlaps with the new super-exam likely, it would appear pointless for students to sit both.

Trumpeting the major shake-up, the SRA claims the revolutionary new approach will “help foster greater diversity in the profession”.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said:

Entry into a profession is the key point at which the quality of the profession as a whole is defined. So it has to be right that everyone meets consistent, high standards.

He continued:

We think that the best way to ensure that solicitors meet the standards we, their clients and the public expect is to put in place the same, rigorous assessment for aspiring solicitors. That will give real confidence to employers, the users of legal services and indeed the profession itself.

With the cost and format of the exam still unknown, the SRA has today launched a 20 question consultation titled “Training for Tomorrow: assessing competence”.

The survey will run until 4 March 2016 and you can find it here.

Previously:

People are freaking out about plans to replace law degrees and the LPC with a solicitor super-exam open to non-graduates [Legal Cheek]

47 Comments

Not Amused

Just wait until they ramp up the costs and thus hinder diversity.

(35)(2)

Anonymous

Cost of LPC = £8,000

Cost of new preparatory course to take new SQE = £8,000 ???

(14)(1)

Anonymous

Cost of an lpc £15,000 not £8,000

(19)(3)

Anonymous

£8.000 what planet you on try £11.500

(2)(5)

MP

It’s far more than £11.50

(8)(1)

Anonymous

My LPC cost nearly £15,000…

(7)(2)

Anonymous

You’ve been had.

(2)(5)

Anonymous

when will this be implemented?

(19)(0)

Anonymous

As someone applying for a training contract now, two years in advanced, it would be good to know a rough implementation date.

(26)(0)

A. BARRISTER

It’s a good idea. Takes the training out of the hands of the money grabbing education corporations and puts them into the hands of the Universities, who can recruit practitioners to teach the course and deliver comparable quality. Also means that student loans will cover the cost of training, I assume. In any event it hopefully will cause the profiteers some discomfort.

(9)(20)

Anonymous

The majority of (I) BPTC places and (ii) LPC places for non top-tier firms are already with traditional Universities. On the BPTC they charge the same as the private providers in the same city. On the LPC, some are a bit cheaper in parts of the country far flung and difficult to recruit students to. The rest, again, charge market rates.

They pay their lecturers less than the private providers.

The big city firms send their students to private providers rather than these wonderful traditional Universities who do no wrong. You may wonder why.

A huge proportion practitioners bang on about legal education without having the first clue as to the current market, course fees or what the providers teach.

Reasoned argument is fine, but the well rehearsed “Private bad, public good” argument would vex even the most ardent Corbyinistas

(20)(0)

Not Amused

No, I am afraid you’ve misunderstood the scheme. It will still be a post degree course. It will just examine/cover wider areas.

So the profiteering will continue and no doubt increase. It is *almost* as though regulators benefit from the profiteering somehow …

(10)(2)

Anonymous

There is a distinction between money grabbing educational corporations and the universities? 😮

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Yes, so now they just need to do the same thing for bar entry.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

A market (the BPTC) that has more than 50% of places within traditional Universities? Where the fee difference is minimal within each city?

Remove the BPTC red tape and it will be cheaper anywhere. Why did I need to be in a class of no more than 12 for civil?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

No, just no BPTC, but an exam to pass – that anyone can do.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

You’re very wrong. Not anyone can do this, you can’t genuinely believe the SRA are scrapping degree & BPTC / LPC & TC requirements for one exam…. if so please don’t become a lawyer, you’re a risk to the nation.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Student loans will not cover the cost also what if you have done the LPC already sure this is ridiculous the bar already does far less examination and on the job training this is sheer madness

(0)(9)

Anonymous

May I introduce you to full stops and new sentences?

The bar examines a far wider number skills than the LPC. It’s also far more difficult to pass.

As a starting point, you have to use full stops.

(17)(5)

Anonymous

May I introduce you to proof reading, in particular the second paragraph. And as a person who has done both courses, your comment re difficulty does not, in my opinion, have any factual basis. They were very different, but fairly equally challenging.

(5)(2)

LUCIFER

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I fully agree! I would take the exam tomorrow if I knew I could get a student loan for it

(4)(1)

Anonymous

So instead of getting a varied legal education and the chance to explore other areas of law, future solicitors will sit a single track education system to meet universal standards.

I’m all for a minimum standard but lets not cap the maximum.

(18)(2)

Future 7 month LPC student

What does this mean for those who’ll be starting their LPCs this summer and consequently their TCs in early-mid 2017? Will they have to take this exam (having already completed the LPC) as they approach qualification?

(17)(3)

Anonymous

Yes so I would not sit the LPC

(6)(3)

Anonymous

This would not come into practice until the 2018/19 academic year, and that’s if all the consultations go smoothly. Knowing the SRA it will be a prolonged and delayed process. Not something you need to worry about.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

No – there will be a transition period where the two routes to qualification will work in parallel. But this has got to go through various approval processes first – this is still at a consultation faze. Realistically this won’t come into play until at least 2020, no matter how much the SRA says 2018

(4)(1)

erm

Law degrees are already optional…

(2)(2)

Anonymous

THIS IS BLOODY INSANE!!!

(6)(4)

Anonymous

Glad to see that these stuffy old suits have woken up to the reality of the situation.

Now just for the grey filled suits at the Bar to realise the same.

(5)(4)

Anonymous

No, this does not replace an LLB or GDL, they are still mandatory, as well as the 2 year period of recognised training (unless you go down the legal executive route).

Whether they scrap the LPC or not is yet to be seen, but it’s very unlikely, and the overlap in this one exam to the 7-10 month LPC will be minimal at most.

(0)(7)

Anonymous

No, the LLB and GDL wouldn’t still be mandatory when this comes in.

(0)(2)

Unpopular opinion puffin

Actually, the proposed plans are not as far fetched as they might seem from the comments. I really don’t see the necessity for a degree as a pre-requisite for most routes of entry (I’m purposefully ignoring CILEX route of entry) if the test can be genuinely pitched at a graduate level (for the Part 1) and at a post-graduate (Part 2).

During my own time as a solicitor I have met some right thickos who were able to pass the LPC and obtain a TC with some above-a-chip-shop practice and those who are genuinely able but stuck in the rut of being an also-ran.

If these proposals can (a) ensure the quality of entrants to the market (b) safeguard diversity both in terms of socioeconomic background as well as ethnicity, disability etc then that’s all for the best. Of course, the SRA having been in being since 2007 and openly criticising the quality of the LPCs which they regulate does seem to suggest that they have no competence in this area.

(9)(1)

chumpawumpa

The best thing about this is hearing the weeping of the kunts at BPP and the “university of law (lulz+)” seeing their vast profit train heading towards a cliff.

(8)(1)

Kuzka's Mother

I am at a loss as to how a single ‘super exam’ can be deemed to replace the LLB/GDL, LPC and, most importantly of all, a 2-year training contract.

There is a reason that becoming a solicitor is such a long process. It is not a profession that one learns to practice in a correct and proper manner overnight.

An absolute joke and a huge blow to the stature and quality of the legal profession in the UK.

(4)(6)

chancerypupil

I really feel this undermines confidence in the legal profession. We already have the shortest period of legal training in the world- as low as 2 years (plus 1 for the bar and 2 for solicitors).

It is also insulting to solicitors. The new exam screams “Anyone can be a lawyer- you don’t need to be educated”

Why do we even bother with any regulation at all? Why not just let anyone do the job and call themselves Barrister/Solicitor- oh wait we do, it is called the GDL

(3)(6)

Not Amused

It is a generational problem.

When the Tory party is in power, their only idea of innovation, improvement or change is to copy America. Once you know this, you start to spot it everywhere.

Once the Labour party is in power their only idea of innovation, improvement or change is to copy a European country (there is I suppose a degree of variety in this).

What unites these people generationally is that they lack any sense of faith in Britain or our ability to innovate, improve or change on our own. It will die out eventually.

(3)(4)

Anonymous

As someone who is currently self-funding the LPC, the idea that it will be unnecessary in three years is not good to hear. I hope the SRA will make some allowances for LPC graduates.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

The SRA is committed to diversity and wants to open up the legal profession to everyone, regardless of race, sex, education, aptitude, intelligence, ability…..

(7)(0)

Not Amused

As long as they can pay vast sums of money, a portion of which goes to the SRA.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

This is an excellent idea. Finally the SRA has seen sense and realised that entry to the profession should be based on achieving a suitable academic threshold. The wholesale abandonment of academic rigour has effectively debased the whole profession. Too many people have been “passing” the LPC over the past 20 years, who would never have got through the former solicitors’ finals.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Agreed! We should never terminated the Solicitor’s Final and/or the Bar Finals! These LPC and BPTC training systems really are the ones that favour the wealthy!

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Agreed! We should have never terminated the Solicitor’s Final and/or the Bar Finals! These LPC and BPTC training systems really are the ones that favour the wealthy!
Just as long as the new exam is a reasonable, not manipulated exam; just look at the US where law graduates cannot pass the bar exams, and thousands have high law student loans repayment rates and no jobs! An absolute nightmare! Their bar exam is manipulated to control entry into the legal profession…

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Just as long as the new exam is a reasonable, not manipulated exam; just look at the US where law graduates cannot pass the bar exams, and thousands have high law student loans repayment rates and no jobs! An absolute nightmare! Their bar exam is manipulated to control entry into the legal profession…

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Yes!! Finally someone has said it! Bring back the LSF and the Bar Finals!

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I am doing my part time LPC and will complete it in 2017… The University has decided not to offer new students the LPC next year… With this reaction i have lost confidence in going down the LPC route if it is no longer compulsory. I am seriously considering pulling out and saving the money for the SQE coming 2018/19 than heading towards the unknown… I feel sorry for those who have done their LPC and now will have to fork out more for an exam…

(2)(0)

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