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SQE latest: City Consortium’s non-law trainees will need to complete GDL-style conversion course

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Exclusive: Influential group of six also hope future rookies will sit both parts of super-exam prior to starting TCs

Non-law graduates due to start their training contacts at one of six top law firms known collectively as the ‘City Consortium’ will have to complete a law conversion course prior to sitting the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), Legal Cheek can reveal.

The influential group — consisting of Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters and Slaughter and May — will require all non-law graduates to undertake a full law conversion course before they sit part one of the super-exam, in an approach closely aligned to the current route to qualification.

The elite group will also require rookies to complete SQE1 and, subject to the timing of the assessments, SQE2 before they start their training contracts. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is yet to confirm these timings.

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The consortium’s plan — revealed last Thursday at LegalEdCon 2020, Legal Cheek‘s virtual education and training conference attended by over 600 delegates — will likely act as a guide for other City firms, who we understand will implement similar requirements ahead of the launch of the SQE in autumn 2021.

The group, which collectively dishes out around 345 TCs annually, announced last year that it had appointed BPP University Law School to help prepare its future trainees to sit the SQE. It also said it intended, subject to any changes made by the SRA, that its rookies will first sit SQE1 in, or around, November 2022 — a year after the regulator’s anticipated roll-out date. The first intake of trainees that this would affect is those commencing their training contracts in spring 2023.

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