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Exclusive SQE survey: sceptical students rank practical skills training over value for money — and want more lawtech courses

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Legal Cheek research on the future of legal education and training revealed

Though students are generally sceptical about the regulator’s decision to replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with the solicitor super-exam, it seems they have a vision for what they’d like the new exam to include: a focus on practical skills, and plenty of lawtech content.

Exclusive Legal Cheek research shows that more than half of students are unhappy about the impending legal education overhaul. Of the 600 law students and lawyers who responded to our survey, 57% said the exam shake-up is a bad move, while 18% said it was good. The remainder were indifferent.

Reasons behind students’ super-exam scepticism are multiple. They include fears that the skills and knowledge acquired during the LPC will be lost and in turn this will “dilute” the standard of legal education. “I have just completed the LPC,” said one respondent, “and think the level of training and experience I had during the year cannot be replaced with any ‘super-exam’.” Another, questioning the rigour of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) plans, mused sarcastically: “Might as well become heart surgeons with one super-exam.”

Further concerns about the exam, anticipated to come in in 2020 or 2021, include that “instead of achieving a qualification and being unable to get a TC, you will get half a qualification and be unable to get a TC”. Others think students would be more fairly assessed by a balance of exams and coursework.

However, a good proportion of students, though not totally sold on the new SQE, do think there’s scope for it to do good.

Lessening the current cost of solicitor training (the LPC can set you back £15,000 in London) was a recurring theme among respondents asked to share suggestions about how legal education could be improved. Solicitor qualification “needs to be more accessible to those from poorer backgrounds”, said one graduate, while another respondent, an undergraduate, said the price of the LPC is simply “too high”. The super-exam is an opportunity to change this, one respondent saying the SQE will be a good thing “if the new route is far less expensive and, thus, would enable those from poorer backgrounds to enter the profession”.

Find out more about today's Future of Legal Education and Training Conference

With that said, though, when we asked our survey respondents what they most want to see in the solicitor super-exam, value for money did not come out on top.

Instead, they threw their weight behind ‘focus on practical skills’. This, the respondents think, is of greater importance in vocational legal education than value for money (second), face-to-face teaching (third), a focus on theory (fourth) and online learning (fifth).

Super-exam architects can also do good by our surveyees if they incorporated lawtech content into the course. Forty nine percent of respondents — who are mainly students but also include some graduates, trainees, solicitors and barristers — think legal tech training should be a stronger feature of legal education across the board. A further 40% said such training should be incorporated “sparingly”.

These topics, and more, will be discussed at today’s The Future of Legal Education and Training Conference, which is taking place right now at Kings Place, London. You can keep track of all the action via the #legalcheek hashtag.

Find out more about today's Future of Legal Education and Training Conference

18 Comments

Anonymous

Just a curious thought: if you would regard yourself as a successful lawyer, what car do you currently drive?

Anonymous

Range Rover, 2005.

Need it for when I go home but it’s horribly chavvy to drive a brand new car.

Large capital sums should be spent on something which appreciates.

HSF associate

Owning a range rover is what’s chavvy

Irwin Mitchell Partner

I’ve got a photo of a car, cut out of a magazine, does that count as owning a car?

Anonymous

I don’t own a car. My river-facing shad thames apartment means I can walk to the office in under 20 minutes so there is not really a need. If I want to get away for a while I’ll rent myself a nice number for the weekend.

Anonymous

Here at Jones Day we place great emphasis on what (who) our partners are riding.

Anonymous

Lotus Evora

Corbyn. Symphathiser

The Tesla car in space. I don’t mean “a Tesla roadster”, I mean specifically the one that’s out in space.

Trumpenkrieg

There’s a huge space inside your head.

Corbyn. Symphathiser

Cutting.

LeCoq

What people don’t seem to understand is how expensive it is only to work as a career paralegal after doing 2 stages. SQE stage 1 would make everyone TC ready at the first stage and do a 2 year training contract followed by a stage 2 ( which could replace the professionals skills course). This goes back to the Law Society Finals exams before the LPC was introduced in 1990ish. Back then they knew the LPC would be labour intensive and cost more money. Of course there’s prestige in charging loads for a LPC but it shouldn’t be linked to a financial background. But some think it should be as the competition would be fiercer if cheaper – as if it wasn’t already – this is financial filtering of candidates.

Judge hobosexual

Tbf, no one sane finances their own lpc. Any firm worth working for will pay for it.

King Arthur

But that doesn’t stop people from doing it only to work as a paralegal? Do this LPC with your TC secured at the firm which paid for it. Now work at your rival MC firm as a paralegal.

If you haven’t secured a TC and pay out of pocket settle for a paralegal role at MC (with no TC)that sets a requirement for a LPC to be paralegal? Dafuq?!

Judge hobosexual

I’ve read this several times, still have no idea what it means. Are you drunk or having a mental breakdown when you typed this?

Kind Arthur

No, I’m merely pointing out, that firms that give out TCs will ask their students to do an LPC. But why then if someone wants to work as a paralegal with no TC does the same firm ask them to have a LPC to be a paralegal (paid for out of their own pocket). Filtering based on money! If it was docymtors working as nurses after 5 years studying wouldn’t that be disgraceful? And get some sleep, don’t comment at 2.36 am! Ffs

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

I self funded the LPC part-time 2013-15 (and am an NQ). I would not self fund the SQE.

A haggard old woman, returning from her graveyard shift in a soho subway, mouthing profanities about her useless writing ponce of a son

Well I’m a soho subway worker and I finance my useless alex’s Website writing thing! And I have a PhD but I’m impoverished cos I’m so senile and deranged!

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