Baker McKenzie picks BARBRI to put future trainees through the SQE

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By Thomas Connelly on

First cohort starts September 2023

Baker McKenzie has selected BARBRI to prepare its future trainees to sit the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

The tie-up will see the legal education giant deliver “bespoke” SQE1 and 2 prep courses to the firm’s 33 or so new training contract holders each year.

Bakers says the deal will enable non-law graduates to commence their training sooner than they could at many competing providers by “dispensing with duplicative aspects of course provision”, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law and Post Graduate Diploma in Law.

This is due to BARBRI combining the core modules found on the GDL into its SQE prep, rather than running it as a standalone course, like some of its law school rivals.

The first cohort of future trainees will start their prep in September 2023, ahead of commencing their training contracts in September 2024. Previously, Bakers’ future rookies studied at BPP.

Stephen Ratcliffe, Baker McKenzie’s training principal, commented:

“We were very struck by BARBRI’s overall offering for SQE provision, in particular, its ambition, dynamism and superlative use of technology, which aligns closely with our own ethos. Their pitch went above and beyond our expectations. But it was their position on, and commitment to, inclusion and diversity which really chimed with us. As a core pillar of the firm’s strategy, we know we want to go further, do better in this area — and BARBRI is going to help us to get where we want to be.”

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BARBRI, which is best known for providing US bar exam prep courses which mirror the multiple-choice question format of SQE1, entered the SQE market last year with a series of prep offerings priced at £2,999 each.

SQE prep providers have been busy jostling for market position ever since news broke that the Legal Practice Course was set to be ditched.

BARBRI has struck similar deals with the likes of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (alongside BPP) and Reed Smith, while rival The University of Law has formed training partnerships with Clifford Chance and Taylor Wessing.

BPP, meanwhile, is the exclusive training provider of the City “consortium” — an influential group made up of Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters and Slaughter and May. Osborne Clarke also recently selected the law school giant to help prepare its future trainees to sit the SQE.

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

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