The ‘City Consortium’ group, made up of six giant law firms, have appointed BPP Law School to design and run the legal education and skills training for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
Dubbed the ‘super-exam’, the SQE will replace the current system with a two-part qualification exam process: SQE Part 1 and SQE Part 2. Part 1 will test, through multiple choice questions, the candidates’ legal knowledge, and their application of it; Part 2 will test legal skills at the point of qualification.
This is a complete overhaul to the current education regime which requires students with a law degree, or those with a non-law degree and a graduate diploma in law, to take a one year Legal Practice Course (LPC) and then gain a two year training contract at a law firm. The SQE will only require candidates to hold a degree or equivalent, pass the two parts of the PQE exam and undertake two years of qualifying work experience from a wider group of employers, not only law firms. It is suggested by the Solicitors Regulation Authority though that the SQE 2 be sat after the work experience, whilst law firms are hoping the prospective solicitors sit both parts of the exam before starting their work experience.
This consortium is made of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter and May. They will work with BPP over the next 18 months to design a series of programmes preparing prospective trainees for the SQE assessments. The programmes will be delivered for the first set of candidates from the autumn of 2021, with the first SQE 1 exams scheduled for the autumn of 2022. The firms will see the first intake of trainees from the new programme arrive in the spring of 2023.
The over-hall is part of a larger reform of legal education, following the 2013 Legal Education and Training Review. Partners at the law firms believe ‘this is a root-and-branch change to the training of lawyers and ensures they are prepared from day one’ (HSF partner Tim West toldLegal Business). Technology will also play a great emphasis in the new programmes to ensure the law firms and its’ lawyers are keeping up with the times.
It is hoped this new programme will be a deregulation and make the process to becoming a solicitor more streamlined but also better prepare them at the point of qualification for the workplace.
The facts and quotes from this article have been gathered from the articles in The Lawyer
<https://www.thelawyer.com/bpp-sqe-city-consortium/> and Legal Business <https://www.legalbusiness.co.uk/blogs/six-city-firms-appoint-bpp-to-deliver-super-exam-prep-courses-amid-education-shake-up/>