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SRA delays super-exam decision until spring 2017

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Final decision was due this month

super-exam-lead

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed that a final decision regarding a new centrally assessed “super-exam” won’t be made until at least spring 2017.

The SRA-backed exam — or Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE), to give it its official title — will, if given the green light, combine the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) to create a one-stop shop professional skills exam.

The SRA had originally said it would reach a final decision on the fate of the super-exam by the end of this month, but has now extended the timetable until next year, so it can focus “on getting the detail right”.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said:

I think the case for a form of centralised assessment is strong. It addresses the problem that, currently, qualifications are not comparable — multiple courses and exams mean that standards can vary significantly and there is a lack of transparency. Any new assessment needs to be fair and consistent and ensure that new solicitors can meet the high standards that the public and employers expect.

Earlier this year the SRA undertook a profession wide consultation on the new exam format. Receiving over 240 responses, almost 200 raised concerns about the proposals.

Issues highlighted were wide-ranging, but one common theme was regarding the exam being open to non-graduates. Many apparently felt this would undermine the status of a solicitor. Furthermore, many didn’t agree with the SRA’s view that the new assessment format would cut costs.

15 Comments

Anonymous

This is not going to to happen anytime soon. It’s quite clear that the SRA has no idea how to implement it judging by their recent comments on this.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

If i’m due to complete my training contract in September 2018, am I going to get caught by this exam? Seems a bit harsh if i am as I may as well never have bothered paying for a law degree and the LPC.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

I’m due to qualify in 2019 and am wondering the same thing. Surely if we met all the old requirements they can’t just change the rules and catch us out like that?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m due to start my TC in 2017 and I was assuming they’d keep the old system for people who are already in it and just stop new people joining the LPC at some point and introduce this super exam. It seems like it would be ridiculous to make us redo everything

(3)(0)

Anonymous

No you won’t be – even before the delay, the SRA proposed transitional provisions lasting until 2025 meaning that anyone who was currently part-way through the qualification process wouldn’t have to start again. The idea is that if you’ve started your training contract already you just carry on and qualify that way. If you’ve done your LPC but not managed to get a TC you can choose to move to the new system and do the SQE

(1)(0)

Anonymous

As with anything like this I imagine there will be “transitional arrangements” for trainees on or nearing the end of their TC

(0)(0)

Trainee

Keep the GDL. You should be able to convert without having to do a vocational course as well. No doubt the content of the GDL (ie actual law) will be greatly diluted.

Scrap most of the LPC. Keep the few useful parts, those that cover: accounts, SRA code of conduct, very basics of the CPRs (basically just cover what they are, not detailed content). Everything else can be learnt on the job. Most of what I’ve learnt this year on the lpc has been basic office skills to do with writing. I say “learnt”, anyone with a half decent law degree should already have these communication and analysis skills. Make mooting (just one moot) a compulsory part of the LLB or GDL, and make it a requirement that students can actually write office-ready pieces of work (it’s tragic that so many leave uni without basic writing skills) and you’re sorted.

Tl;dr Scrap all lpc except bits on accounts/SRA (month long course tops), make LLB/GDL teach you to write/moot.

Everyone doing the LPC knows it’s just a way to make money from students and firms.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

I did some mooting for fun but I don’t think I’ll every do any advocacy on my TC. I don’t see why that should be compulsory.

(2)(0)

TRAINEE

Yeah, I’m not suggesting that advocacy is necessary….I don’t know many (commercial solicitors) who do any but I think it’s quite common at criminal firms (correct me if I’m wrong).

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I agree with you to an extent, although as a GDL converter, I really enjoyed doing the BLP on the LPC. The GDL doesn’t offer Company Law.

(0)(0)

TRAINEE

If you really want to learn about company law, take a law degree and do it as an option….or pick up a company law textbook and have a read in your spare time. Maybe the LPC has a slightly more practical approach than an LLB, but it’s no reason to force an expensive course on young people who are saddled with more debt than ever before. Not only are they paying for the LPC, they are losing potential earnings by not working full time that year.

If they must teach it – I can see the argument for needing basic company law/real estate/litigation – outside the law degree, then they could at least reduce the length and cost of the course by 2/3. We were meant to study theory in the first term and skills in the second, re the same areas. We inevitably learnt the skills in the first term and did nothing in the second, students paying for the privilege to no sweet f.a. The whole concept of “skills” taught for each subject is ridiculous – you are learning how to write e-mails etc. for THREE modules. Skills, if necessary at all (law degrees/GDL should cover basic office skills) could be combined into 1 module, incorporating a bit of real estate, company, and litigation here and there along the way. The electives are of course pointless when you consider that a future commercial lawyer could take criminal, family and immigration, then go on to never use them. That’s 2 terms gone….

I feel bad complaining because I was funded through my LPC by my very generous firm, but I just feel that all the students paying out of their own pockets are being totally ripped off, not to mention the number of students let on the course who will struggle to even get paralegal work, let alone a TC.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

You said before that mooting should be a compulsory part of the LPC, even though we’ll never use it, and now you’re complaing about company law being on the LPC. I would argue that learning about basic company structures will be useful in both high street and City firms, whereas mooting will have f all use for 95% of trainees.

I agree with you that knowledge and skills don’t need as much time as they get on the full-time course. As I understand it, the 7 month course combines them. Maybe that is the way to go?

I would keep the electives as they are. Having a part of the course which firms can customise to their needs is generally quite useful.

(1)(0)

Trainee

But most students taking the LPC don’t have training contracts. By all means offer electives if firms want to pay, but it seems unnecessary for a lot of students, especially if you’ve already done electives at uni, often on the same subject.

Re mooting, when I was talking about it being moved to the LLB/GDL that was only if it has to be compulsory. I think it should be at some point, it’s the only way you really get exposed to how a trial works (unless you study DR I suppose….so it could go really). I’m not that fussed either way, it’s not that taxing on time, it’s not a whole module.

The problem with the 7 month course is that instead of examining skills and knowledge together, you still have to sit the two separate exams and still
Have to attend twice the number of workshops + lectures needed, keeping the fees high. Even if youngest the electives it could at least lose 1/3 in length by PROPERLY combining skills
And knowledge.

I just can’t get my head around such a poorly taught, un-challenging course costing students more than many good masters degrees

Anonymous

Most LPC students without TCs know roughly what type of firm they want to apply to, and know what they find interesting.

I think half of LPC students didn’t study law, and so never got a chance to choose legal subjects on their undergraduate degree/GDL.

If someone did study law and did a similar elective to one on the LPC then choose a different elective.

I agree that the core subjects are not that challenging but I have found that the corporate electives have been much more interesting, challenging, and enjoyable for me. I’m actually learning law which is nice.

Fernand

The LPC is like teaching a 1 year old how to walk by sitting it down and explaining it.

(5)(1)

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