SRA moots paying student guinea pigs to sit pilot super-exam

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By Polly Botsford on

Want to get paid to take the SQE?

Julie Brannan, director of education and training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), told a legal education conference this week that students may be needed to test the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), and that they might be paid to do this.

The solicitor regulator says it will need to ensure that the finished prototype of the new SQE, which is due to come in from September 2020, is “fit for purpose” and this will inevitably mean trying it out on “real, live people”.

Though the SRA is keen to stress that no decision has yet been made, it says payment may be an option. The SRA will also have to work out whether or not those students who did pilot the exam would, in fact, be able to make it count towards their qualification or whether it would just be a “trial run” for them.

The main focus for the regulator is on ensuring that the guinea pigs for the new exam will be “representative”. Brannan told Legal Cheek: “we want to ensure as broad a range of people as possible in any pilot.”

Under the new solicitor training rules, the two-part SQE is one of the four elements which will be required to become a solicitor alongside a degree or equivalent qualification, a suitable period of work experience and, at the point of admission, meeting the character and suitability requirements.

SQE part one tests legal knowledge and practical legal research and writing, part two focuses further on legal skills such as drafting and client interviewing.

The super-exam, a return to a centralised assessment for all future solicitors last seen in the 1980s, will be run by a central assessor, though no one yet knows who that assessor will be.

There is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the exam which is intended to “introduce transparency and competitive pressures to drive up standards and reduce cost”, according to the SRA.

However, earlier this week, Legal Cheek reported that there is divided opinion on how much impact the new SQE will actually have in terms of recruitment to law firms.

Watch our exclusive super-exam interview with SRA director of education and training Julie Brannan:

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