The UK regulator has published documents for the first phase of the process, with potential bidders invited to send their non-disclosure agreements to the SRA by 22 June, with a final deadline to submit outline solutions by 1 September. The SRA expects to select the assessment provider by March 2018. The contract will last for up to ten years. The SQE is due to be implemented by September 2020.
Fieldfisher is the sole firm assisting the SRA in procuring an appropriate assessment provider, with technology partner Sam Jardine and head of privacy Hazel Grant leading its team.
The SRA decided in April to introduce the SQE, an independent assessment to be taken ‘at the point of entry to the profession’, after a two year consultation, despite the proposals being hit with criticism from the profession.
This January, Travers Smith managing partner David Patient voiced ‘serious reservations’ over the scope and rigour of the SQE being too narrow to test the full breadth of legal knowledge and cutting certain aspects of the current law assessments.
The City of London Law Society (CLLS) has also objected to the SQE, stating that the multiple-choice nature of the assessment lacks the ability to test the full nuance of law knowledge.
The SRA has been pushing to make reforms in other areas of the profession, announcing this week its review of proposals to slash the length of the solicitors’ code of conduct and relax the rules on solicitors practicing in non-legal businesses.
As part of the shake-up, the organisation’s code of conduct may be reduced from 30 pages to 14 and could result in significant changes to the way law firms and legal service providers employ solicitors.
Robert Bourns, president of the Law Society this week criticised the SRA’s proposal, published under the remit of a commitment to ‘allow solicitors to work more freely in the legal sector.’
Bourns told Legal Business that he was ‘very concerned’ with the proposals, arguing they could cause ‘consumer confusion.’
This article first appeared on The Lex 100's sister publication, Legal Business.