There are different routes to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales, and each of these pathways currently has its own final assessment.
The most common route is for graduates to take the LPC and to then undertake a period of recognised training. Non-graduates are able to qualify as solicitors under ‘equivalent means’ when they sit exams after having demonstrated they possess the required level of legal experience. Thirdly, barristers and foreign qualified lawyers are able to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales by completing the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme.
Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, says that the introduction of the SQE will ‘give real confidence to employers, the users of legal services and indeed the profession itself.’ He continues: ‘Entry into a profession is the key point at which the quality of the profession as a whole is defined. So it has to be right that everyone meets consistent, high standards. We think that the best way to ensure that solicitors meet the standards we, their clients and the public expect is to put in place the same, rigorous assessment for aspiring solicitors.’
The SRA has launched an open consultation on the proposed introduction of the SQE, which will run until March 2016. This proposal is part of the SRA’s Training for Tomorrow initiative.
Launched after the 2013 publication of the Legal Education and Training Review, Training for Tomorrow is an ongoing widespread review of the profession’s training structures and requirements.