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Solicitor super-exam receives final approval

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LSB signs off on biggest shake-up to legal education and training in a quarter-century

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has finally been given the go-ahead to introduce the new solicitor super-exam.

In an update on the The Legal Services Board’s (LSB) website, the super-watchdog said it had today approved the SRA’s application to make “significant changes” to how people qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. This includes the roll-out of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) from 1 September 2021.

The LSB said it conducted a thorough assessment of the application and concluded that if the SRA realises its ambitions for the SQE, “it should have a positive impact” on the profession.

The LSB added that it had received assurances from the SRA on some areas of initial concern, including additional safeguards around qualifying work experience (QWE) to help to prevent the poor treatment of trainees — a concern previously expressed by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD).

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Commenting on the approval, chair of the SRA, Anna Bradley, said:

“We welcome the LSB’s decision. The SQE will provide assurance that all aspiring solicitors meet consistent, high standards at point of entry to the profession. It will also open up new and diverse routes to qualification.”

The SQE will be split into two parts: SQE1 focusing on black letter law and taking the form of a computer-based, multiple-choice assessment, while SQE2 will test prospective solicitors’ practical legal skills such as advocacy and interviewing. It will replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Today’s news means the first sittings for SQE1 will take place in November 2021 with the first SQE2 sittings in April 2022.

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