When will most law firms embrace the SQE?
Legal Cheek Careers catches up with BPP University Law School’s head of outreach and student recruitment, Jonny Hurst, to hear the inside scoop on the timeline of different firms’ SQE transition
Speaking from his university’s experience of helping law firms navigate from the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), BPP Law School‘s head of outreach and student recruitment, Jonny Hurst, explains we are “very much in a state of transition”, when Legal Cheek Careers catches up with him over Zoom.
He outlines that whilst some firms have already committed to starting the SQE pathway in the next couple of years, with a small minority of leading firms due to put their first trainees through the process later this year, what this will look like in practice will vary significantly from firm to firm.
For example, some firms are taking up the graduate apprenticeship model, teaching a block of learning before starting in the office, whilst others are giving their trainees time out of their working week to study. This marks a step away from the LPC, which was, in the majority of cases more of a one-size-fits-all model with all exams completed before day one in the office, Hurst explained.
Discussing the reticence of some firms to commit to the SQE pathway, Hurst explained that a key factor in this is that the old system was “tried and tested” and therefore in wanting to get the transition right, some firms are waiting for the SQE to bed down.
Given this, Hurst expects that, at some firms, initially there might be some mixed cohorts of LPC and SQE trainees as part of a transitional phase. Although, from the conversations BPP has had, most firms would prefer for students in particular cohorts to have been through the same academic training programmes as it is preferable to plan their development from the same starting point.
Ultimately, this means that whilst we will see a small number of firms move over to the SQE route from this September (2022), it will be at least another year or two before there are significantly more trainees having graduated via the SQE pathway than the LPC.
Legal Cheek is running ‘The SQE series’ with BPP University Law School over the next few months. The video of each session will be made available one month after each virtual event.
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