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City Consortium outlines SQE plan for future trainees

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11-month programme includes super-exam prep and ‘bespoke’ top-up course

The City Consortium has revealed further details of its new solicitor training programme.

The first cohort of trainees at six elite law firms — Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter and May — will enter the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) pathway from early September 2022 to late July 2023.

Before they embark on the City Consortium’s 11-month programme (CCP), they’ll either need a law degree or to complete a law conversion course. Although no longer a regulatory requirement, non-law graduates joining consortium firms will be required to undertake the PGDL for a period of eight months.

They will then receive training to pass the two SQE assessments, plus a “bespoke” programme to prepare them for City practice. The group has partnered with BPP University Law School for the provision of training.

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Graduates will first undergo 15 weeks of preparation to sit SQE1 in November 2022, after which they will progress onto the consortium’s ‘Plus Programme’ for another 15 weeks.

In February, Legal Cheek exclusively revealed the consortium will provide ‘top-up courses’ for future trainees to supplement the knowledge and skills examined on the SQE. Further details have since emerged and we now know they will be skilled in topics such as business, finance, legal technology, project and people management, as well as “behaviours” such as resilience and self-awareness to “sustain a long and successful career in the law”.

The next step is to prepare for and sit SQE2, which the consortium has prescribed a period of four weeks. They will then complete two years of qualifying work experience within their respective firms and have the option to complete a master’s qualification.

Workshops will be primarily face-to-face and led by lawyers from City practice. The consortium firms will fully fund course fees and provide maintenance grants.

The SQE officially went live on 1 September and will eventually phase out the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

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