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SRA: Trainees can qualify before completing Professional Skills Course

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But must finish all modules within one year of being admitted

Trainee solicitors due to qualify this autumn can be admitted to the roll without having completed the Professional Skills Course (PSC), the regulator has said.

The PSC is the final stage of training rookies must complete to qualify as a solicitor. It is typically completed in six to eight modules over the course of the training contract.

Some parts of the PSC require face-to-face assessment; a challenging requirement to meet in time for September 2020 admission given the current COVID-19 set of circumstances.

A number of training providers, including law schools BPP and ULaw, worked with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to temporarily move to online or remote proctoring of PSC assessments amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In an update sent to training providers yesterday the SRA said: “[W]e know that it may still not be possible for trainees to successfully complete the course in time for their planned admission point”.

As a result, trainees can apply to defer completion of the PSC, but will need to complete the course within one year of being admitted.

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SRA rules require organisations to pay for a trainee’s first attempt at the PSC and it said this obligation continues even if the trainee takes it after admission.

The regulator has already relaxed its rules to allow online and remote teaching and assessment of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We hope that this will mean that many students who intended to complete the LPC before the start of their period of recognised training in September will still be able to do so,” the SRA said. “However, there will be some individuals who will have to defer completion of the LPC. We would therefore remind authorised training providers that it is not a requirement for the LPC to be completed before the start of their training.”

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