Over a quarter of small and medium law firms yet to adopt SQE

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By Rhys Duncan on

Nearly half cite lack of info for not switching

Just over a quarter of small and medium (SME) law firms are yet to take up the Solicitor Qualifying Exam (SQE) as a route to qualification, new research has shown.

Of the 27% who haven’t yet adopted the pathway, nearly half (44%) cited a lack of information for not making the switch. A quarter additionally reported a lack of “buy-in” internally as a barrier, with 6% concerned about the cost.

With the transition windows from the Legal Practice Course to SQE running officially until 2032, nearly a third of firms (31%) said that now was simply not the right time to make the transition across to the new scheme. “However”, the report states, “the reality is that the LPC window of opportunity is closing quickly with a real shift expected over the next couple of years”.

The research, undertaken by legal education provider BARBRI, also noted that 53% of SME firms have taken on apprentices, with the majority doing so to bring in new talent and up skill existing lawyers, and a smaller number only looking to achieve one of those objectives.

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Of the 46% of firms not to take up the pathway, 36% said that they “prefer more traditional routes”, with 28% concerned about the time required for recruits to acquire skills, and 16% worried about the quality of candidates on offer.

The report surveyed 127 figures across SME law firms, 84 of whom were senior decision makers, with the other 43 paralegals or people in similar roles.

SME law firms were defined as those with less than 250 employees and an annual turnover under £50 million.

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