SRA update on LPC assessment – continuing impact of Covid-19

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has announced changes to its rules on testing requirements for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to reflect the government and NHS guidelines on coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic protection.

The SRA’s announcement came after it had initially advised for student exams to be postponed, which proved controversial. It has since changed its track and put forward this flexible testing approach.

Traditionally, the LPC has required face to face assessments particularly on subjects that are by their nature interactive, such as client interviewing and other elements of its ‘skills assessment’ and ‘elective subjects’ sections.

The SRA have said in a statement from its Q&A section titled ‘Coronavirus update – Education and Training Q&A.’

‘We need to be assured that students who pass an LPC have the necessary knowledge and skills for the early stage of their career in practice. One of the ways we do this is through our requirements for supervised assessments on the LPC. It will of course be challenging to meet these requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and so for this period, we are relaxing our current assessment requirements for all parts of the LPC’

This change has empowered LPC providers to make adjustments to all elements of the LPC assessment, while still providing ‘supervised assessment’ as is stipulated in the new guidance. This has opened the door to proctored online assessments, take home assignments and other methods. Universities and LPC providers are currently planning their reactions and there will be forthcoming announcements about examinations.

At the end of the new guidance, the SRA includes another change to normal procedure allowing students who need to defer their exams due to illness to take up their training contract prior to completing the exams. It is important to stress that this is allowable in the eyes of the SRA but would need to be agreed by each relevant firm providing training.

For more information about the SRA’s changes please read its full guidance in the Q&A at this link below.