US-based legal education provider BARBRI, which until now has been mainly known in the UK for its New York and California bar exam prep courses and Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) prep courses, is going head-to-head with traditional market players, with the launch of its Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) Prep course in January 2021.
BARBRI aims to differentiate on both price, and with courses rooted in online learning, using its existing investment in technology and experience with professional exams to offer fees that are notably lower than the Legal Practice Course (LPC). BARBRI became the first legal education provider in the autumn to go public with its SQE fees — offering a £6,000 SQE prep course, with SQE1 and SQE2 each costing £2,999.
Since then BARBRI has cut deals with several leading institutions, including a City law firm and Russell Group universities, to prepare future solicitors to pass the SQE.
BARBRI will train up Reed Smith rookies to sit the centralised assessments as part of an exclusive SQE training deal announced last year. It will also offer students at King’s College London and the universities of Manchester and Sussex SQE workshops and fee discounts.
BARBRI’s SQE course will be delivered mostly online, with some workshops taking place on-campus at the universities it has partnered with should government guidance in the context of the coronavirus pandemic allow for it.
There are further limbs to BARBRI’s SQE plans. The new entrant SQE provider has teamed up with organisations like Flex Legal and the National Association of Licensed Paralegals to support paralegals to sit the exams. BARBRI will offer them SQE scholarships and fee discounts.
BARBRI has also partnered with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), a professional membership body for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners. The duo will work together to develop ADR training as part of its SQE course, while CIArb members and BARBRI alumni will be offered fee discounts.
In 2019 BARBRI acquired UK-based training and assessment provider Kaplan Altior. The combined entity, BARBRI Altior, offers legal training courses including the Professional Skills Course, much of which is being integrated into the SQE.
SQE1 Prep by BARBRI courses are offered three times a year. The first begins in January and is a 40-week part-time course. The second starts in June and is a 20-week course, with the third course running full-time in August for ten weeks. Law graduates are advised to take the 10-week (full-time) or 20-week (part-time) course, while it is recommended non-law graduates complete the 20-week (full-time) or 40-week (part-time) course.
BARBRI SQE2 Prep will be offered at least twice a year leading into the scheduled exams. Students can select from an eight-week (full-time) or 16-week (part-time) course.
BARBRI has three scholarships (details below) available to all new students starting on a BARBRI SQE1 Prep course of study. Students can apply for a scholarship award at any time, and applications are then reviewed for the next available funding round.