‘Don’t make snap decisions too soon’, SRA tells aspiring solicitors contemplating whether to take the LPC or the super-exam

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Exclusive video interview: Legal Cheek speaks to the regulator’s director of education and training

Julie Brannan, director of education and training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), has told Legal Cheek that aspiring lawyers contemplating whether to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) now or wait until the super-exam is introduced have some “hard thinking to do”.

The new Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE) is due to be rolled out in September 2020, meaning those that graduate this year, next year and in 2019 will be faced with a choice: qualify under the old system, or wait it out and qualify under the new one.

There are a whole host of reasons why someone might choose to wait, perhaps the most notable being cost. The SRA insisted throughout the consultation process that the SQE will be cheaper than more traditional routes to qualification.

And the SRA doesn’t seem to be budging on this one. Speaking to Legal Cheek’s Katie King, video embedded above, Brannan reiterated that prices will come down because the super-exam splits up the cost of assessment and cost of teaching, plus shorter, more integrated prep courses will help keep fees down too. Though no exact — nor ballpark — figure was offered, Brannan did note:

It’s really, really important to us that we get value for money in this process.

The apprenticeship levy will help those going through the earn-while-you-learn route, while law degree providers stand in good stead to help alleviate costs for graduates. She said:

Universities are looking at whether they can incorporate SQE training into their degree. If they can do that, then that does take away the whole of the cost of the LPC, which is a substantial saving.

So, which system should you qualify under?

If you’re about to graduate, Brannan suggests weighing up the options based on factors including whether you already have the offer of a training contract and how up-to-date your legal knowledge is. As for people graduating in the few years before the SQE is rolled out, adopt a wait and see approach.

“Don’t make snap decisions too soon,” Brannan said, “things will have moved on a lot by the time you get to 2019, so wait and see what things look like then and make your decision at that point.”

Legal Cheek also spoke to Brannan about some of the concerns surrounding the SQE, one being that cheaper courses equals more qualified solicitors, but not more solicitor jobs. Will the SQE end up making the legal job market even more competitive?

On this, Brannan answered:

What the SQE is all about is making sure people who pass it are safe to practice… This is not about having a quota for the number of people who get through, it’s about making sure people have the right standard.

She continued:

The profession is growing and has grown. When the LPC was introduced there were about 60,000 solicitors, we have almost 140,000 solicitors at the moment with practising certificates.

But who’s to say the profession has reached its peak? There is not a fixed number of jobs but there is still unmet legal need, Brannan tells us. The SRA needs to make sure there are people out there to service that.

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I really wouldn’t want to be in one of the guinea pig cohorts for the SQE.

Prep materials and knowledge are going to be patchy, pass rates are likely to be much lower than the LPC, plus you have to go through two sets of examinations, meaning you could pass the first lot and fail the second (especially considering you could be taking the second whilst working).

Universities are reluctant to imbed SQE prep into their courses especially early on, and particularly when their pass rates will then be made public. It sounds like their won’t be a huge amount of opportunities to sign up to prep courses outside of UoL/BPP in the first few years anyway.

And all of that is based on the assumption that this implemented by 2020. It’s already been delayed several times and is about 2 years behind the first proposed schedule. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t properly in place until closer to 2024-5.



Why do you have to be so negative? You foolish old grouch.

I’m sure it’ll all be delivered on time.



I’ve been involved in the discussions that have formed these proposals, and before that those relating to the LETR which propelled this change. So I have some understanding of how we have got to this point and how things are likely to proceed.

Discussions have been slow, clunky and still have a lot of resistance – this won’t be solved quickly and even if it was, the quality of it will be lacking in early years while everyone is resistant to the change.

It is already behind schedule so can’t be delivered on time.



Do you think this will become mandatory for foreign qualified lawyers? E.g. the aussie and nz lawyers already working here



In nearly half an hour the glasses of water were not touched. Intense.



Julie Brannan ambitiously went for a pint glass too.



If you are making the choice, rather than a sponsoring firm, that means you (probably) don’t have a training contract lined up. In which case, I recommend you take the LPC route instead, for the simple reason that firms know what this is and understand it – whereas the SQE is an unknown quantity. If the SQE goes on to become the future, then so be it – but you must be focused on getting a TC *now*, not in 1-2-3 years’ time. And right now, the LPC is the familiar route.



Why is KK wearing a grandmother’s dress?


Jones Day Junior Associate

I personally think that the dress looks great. It shows a level of sophistication and creates an air of mystery as to what may be underneath. I much prefer to the types of over-revealing garments that some ‘ladies’ choose to wear about London, or even worse, at work. I should also say that the dress combined with Katie’s nice smile is a very professional combination that shall take her far in life.


Jones Day Partner

No, that’s it. You’ve had your chance. You’re out.


Jones Day Equity Partner

You’re obviously not one of our associates. None of the massive banta LADS I hired in recent years speaks like a total poofter.

Get outta my Firm.


Jones Day Junior Associate

You’ll never guess who I am. You’ll never flush me out. P.s. I am also the culprit who has not been flushing in the client loos. I used to do it only when at other firms’ offices, but ever since I narrowly missed my bonus I have been carrying out a dirty protest internally.


A.N. Other - Jones Day Partner

You’re the phantom sh1tter from Hammonds? Welcome!

Slater & Gordon Managing Inspiring Awesome Director

Hi, if you are upset about your bonus. Please feel free to apply to SnG, we regularly give bonuses and offer regular national trips (eg: picnics, strolls in the park etc.)

Please note that whilst your pay may not be much and neither will your bonuses, we have learnt from our American cousins and ensure all employees that they can keep 20% of all client tips.

Slater & Gordon Partner

S&G really is a super duper place to work, I finished my legil degree from Queen Mary, University of London/Rusal Grope and I was instantly offered a Partner position.

We also have an open space office where you can frequently see myself and other partnerz engaging with hundreds of clients in regardz to their PI claim (worth an eye watering £1000.)

Slater & Gordon Receptionist

Above comments all true.
I started off as a receptionist and now I am able to spend 90% of my time giving legal advice. I plan on finishing my GCSE’s and then we will see what happens! The world is your oysta!

Jones Day Partner

@ Receptionist.

Gender, age, location?

Jones Day Equity Partner

@ Jones Day Partner- Please go back to work.

@Receptionist- Gender, age, location? 😉

London Met Lawyer Graduate

Dis Iz Mad Banta xD JAJAJA*Grabs Some Popcorn*


eww gross….people like you should be lined up and told off lol

that’s disgusting


that reply ended up in the wrong place lol

A.N. Other - Jones Day Partner

That is truly disgusting. Mentioning someone’s smile. Again. I’m warning you…


A & O Trainee

@ Jones Day Partner- Hi Allen, want to raid my overy?



Agreed! She looks sophisticated and classy



Katie looks 😍😍 here! Love you KatieKing x



I’m studying for the GDL and my view is that you could train a monkey to get good grades on this course. There is very little application of law. Just boring straight forward factual scenarios. Does this change on the LPC or BPTC? lol
I think the course should be less of a memory exercise with more analysis and application. I haven’t had a mini pupillage yet let alone decided between the LPC or BPTC. Up to now I fail to see how I can convince a firm that I am less of a flying monkey than the next GDL student even with high grades I know nothing lol. Rant over and no I don’t know what my point is either lol


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