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Cost of super-exam is a ‘major concern’, says Junior Lawyers’ Division

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SQE fees could hit £4,500, but prep course prices remain unknown

Amy Clowrey, the incoming chair of the Junior Lawyers’ Division (JLD) of the Law Society, stated this week that with the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) looming large on the horizon, “the next two years will be key for the development of training and education of solicitors in England and Wales” and will be a focus point for the JLD in 2019.

The JLD, which represents approximately 70,000 LPC students, trainees and solicitors with up to five years’ post qualification experience (PQE), has been broadly positive about the SQE: “Overall the JLD is supportive of a centralised examination — although it must be fair, and must ensure continued trust in the profession and access to the profession for aspiring solicitors from all backgrounds.”

But it does have a number of outstanding concerns and has been engaged in the consultation process. One of those flashpoints is about the cost of the SQE. It was announced earlier this month that the super-exam’s costs were likely to be anywhere between £3,000 and £4,500. However, do not include preparation course fees, which are likely to add thousands onto the final training bill.

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Clowrey, who is a specialist in child abuse cases at Switalskis Solicitors in Wakefield, tells Legal Cheek:

“The JLD has major concerns about the cost of the SQE. This will certainly impact negatively upon those from a low socio-economic background, particularly if funding options are unavailable.”

Clowrey also points to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) position, reported in the legal press, that as the Professional Skills Course (PSC) will no longer be required there has already been a saving on the SQE.

Clowrey is not so convinced: “Currently the PSC is a cost borne by the employer during a trainee’s training contract. This means that the saving would be to the employer, rather than the aspiring solicitor.”

The JLD is keen for the SRA to share the results of the SQE pilot, which is due to happen next spring: “Without data from this pilot stakeholders, including the JLD, will not have a clear picture of how the SQE will work in practice.”

You can access JLD’s consultation documents and general information on the SQE here.

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28 Comments

Anonymous

Rule of the Regulators Number 104 – Anything a regulator attempts to make cheaper, shall become more expensive.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Any news on TC opportunities at Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky? Its my dream firm, would really like to work there

(5)(5)

Anonymous

No news is good news.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Most students won’t be paying for this out of their own pocket anyway.

(0)(8)

Anonymous

Doesn’t mean it is justified. It just means private equity firms can line their pockets.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Sure, but I certainly wouldn’t be getting too excited about it given that 95% of law students won’t be paying for the LPC.

(1)(4)

Anonymous

95%, where have you plucked that figure from?! I think you’ll find it’s more likely 95% won’t be!!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

c.95% of junior lawyers are based in the city.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Is that true? I’m not contesting it, but it’s a remarkable fact if true and a source for it would be handy.

If it is demonstrably true it will change my view of the way qualification is arranged and paid for.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Out of almost 6000 training contracts the magic circle (5 firms) provide almost 600 (10 percent of the figure) in the city 2000 training contracts elsewhere 4000 around the country (England and Wales)

(0)(0)

Anonymous

So is this right…in E&W there are ~6,000 TCs each year, of which about 2,000 are in the city and include 600 MC TCs?

If that is broadly accurate, the statement that 95% of junior lawyers are in the city is bollocks.

Anonymous

BPP or ULaw will use any excuse to jack up the price by an extra £10,000, including ‘admin issues’

(9)(0)

Pointless SQE.. similar fees... so law students benefit how exactly?

The SQE was unnecessary. The LPC has been used for years. With the added fees of the course providers, it will not be less than the current LPC.

What a complete waste of time. I wonder who had taken part in the consultation for the SQE…

I see no benefits or improvement on current system.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

The benefit I can think of is skipping TC, so aspiring solicitors from any background could get a chance to apply for work as solicitors.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

SQE1 to replace GDL and SQE2 to replace LPC – that is fine.

SQE1 to be required in addition to LLB is stupid!

(5)(0)

Anonymous

This could mark the end of the LLB.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

I did the LLB and some of the assessments at Brunel University (a shithole) were completely unnecessary coursework never ever had good feedback. This centralised system is so transparent, assessment wise.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Just a reminder that more regulation usually results in more costs for the consumer

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Completely agree that making this basically the same as an LPC is dumb

But the SQE does still have one narrow advantage – that it is envisaged you’re in work with a firm, and don’t have to take the LPC/training contract gamble

c. £5k for an SQE to be a solicitor at the end, or GAMBLING £10k for an LPC? no brainer

(3)(0)

Pointless SQE.. similar fees... so law students benefit how exactly?

I agree the only benefit is no need for a training contract with the SQE

… however the 4,500 fee I the article is just the approximate exam fees.. It doesn’t include the institutional fees from the providers.

A much simpler approach would be to just apply the principle of ‘ no training contract needed ‘ to the LPC, and apply the 2 year work experience period to the LPC. Other than that, there is no other benefit the SRA could not have just simply applied to the present LPC.

The fees are not less… so the SQE was unnecessary. Dropping the training contract part could have been applied to the LPC.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You have literally no idea what you’re talking about.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

‘I agree the only benefit is no need for a training contract with the SQE”

is that really a benefit though?

Broadly speaking the number of newly qualified positions available each year is similar to the number of training contracts offered in the proceedings years. The result is that the number of newly qualified positions available is similar to the number of solicitors who qualify in a given year.

Allowing an unlimited number of people to qualify will not have any impact on the number of newly qualified positions available. The only thing that effects the number of newly qualified positions is the market. So there simply won’t be enough jobs available for all the people who have qualified as solicitors via the SQE route to actually be solicitors.

Therefore a lot of people will invest a considerable amount of time and money into qualifying as a solicitor via the SQE route and will end up being employed as paralegals.

Despite being qualified solicitors these people are likely to undertake the same work, be paid the same amount and have the same career progression opportunities as paralegals have now.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

* preceding years

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Welcome to the world of the bar.

The bar is cursed by the ludicrous situation of thousands of BPTC ‘graduates’ chasing a few hundred pupillages – many of which are in any event pre-destined to end in rejection for tenancy, and others which lead to unviable tenancies.

Qualifying a small army of prospective solicitors without jobs to fill will create even more bitterness and disillusionment (and debt) than even the bar’s system manages to do.

Don’t go down this route!

(1)(0)

Gritty

Polly Botsforth.

Ooooh.

That’s a name-and-a-half.

Makes me almost begin to approve of women in the workplace.

Almost.

Signed,
Gritty
XXX

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m suspicious of women called “Polly”.

It’s a name which conjures up a brisk, upper middle class take on life.

It’s not their real name.

They’re usually called “Mildred” or “Doreen” and grew up in Milton Keynes.

(0)(0)

Gritty

Thanks – checked her photo now and we can confirm that this is a make-believe “Polly” whose real name is probably “Julie”, no doubt an upper working-class lass who will have voted “remain” as the most boring status-seeking choice.

Regards,
Gritty

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Watch how private institutions use various tricks to make up the circa £5k (regions) to £10k (inside M25) losses from the LPC with a variety of SQE scams. Will be worth an article on its own.

(4)(0)

Comments are closed.

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