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

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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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I would be happy to be paid to take the test for shits and giggles, as long as it wouldn’t have any impact on me qualifying the normal way.



They are going to have to test this out on quite a wide range of people to ensure it is fit for purpose. If the SRA are truly concerned about adverse impact/D&I, that is going to need a pretty large data sample, and that’s then spread out across the various different routes (apprentices, grads, internationally qualified lawyers).

So even if they do choose to pay people to be their guinea pigs, I can’t see them paying anywhere near a reasonable amount. And what’s the point of putting yourself through this if you don’t get the chance to partly qualify? You’d have to be pretty desperate for the cash and then you’d probably not be that focused on actually attempting to pass/do well in the assessments.






Agreed. What’s the point if you are not able to actually qualify why put your self through the hustle? Unless it is really well paid!


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