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Kaplan given go-ahead to assess solicitor apprentices

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Follows appointment to run SQE

Legal education giant Kaplan has been appointed the end point assessment organiser for solicitor apprenticeships, almost two years after it secured the contract to develop and deliver the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

The Education and Skills Funding Agency rubber stamped the appointment this week following a “rigorous application process” to review Kaplan’s experience, expertise and capacity to perform the role.

Under the new route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales, set to be introduced next Autumn, apprentices, like their training contract counterparts, will be required to pass both parts of the super-exam. SQE1 focuses on black letter law and will take the form of a computer-based, multiple-choice assessment, while SQE2 will test prospective solicitors’ practical legal skills such as advocacy and interviewing.

The six-year ‘earn while your learn’ apprenticeship route has grown in popularity since its launch in 2016. Unlike a traditional TC, school leavers split their time between their training organisation, such as a law firm, undertaking paid paralegal/trainee-level work, and completing an LLB at law school. There are now more than 500 solicitor apprentices, according to Kaplan, with the first batch due to qualify in May 2022.

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Peter Houillon, CEO of Kaplan Professional UK and Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to have been approved as the End Point Assessment Organisation for the Solicitor Apprenticeship. With over a decade of providing the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme assessment, we look forward to continuing to apply our experience and expertise to implement an SQE that will reach the very high standards expected of a national qualifying exam.”

Julie Brannan, Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) director of education and training, added: “Apprenticeships will attract new talent to firms. The SQE will demonstrate the quality of the apprenticeship route to admission as all qualifying solicitors will have to meet the same high standard. Consistency is key, so it makes sense to have Kaplan — world experts in this field — overseeing assessment for all.”

The SRA appointed Kaplan to run the solicitor super-exam in the summer of 2018 on an eight year deal.

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