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Rules proposed for new regime for becoming a solicitor lack detail

27 July 2017

Clarity is urgently needed around the new regulations underpinning the super exam framework before they are approved, the Law Society of England and Wales said today as it asked the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to publish greater detail about its latest proposals.

Commenting on the SRA’s recent consultation, which addresses the draft regulations relating to the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), Law Society president Joe Egan said: “We want to be encouraging about the SQE, but at the moment we actually know very little about the rules governing this framework and the SRA really needs to crack on and make these public.”

“This is an important consultation affecting the future of the profession. The Law Society and other stakeholders expect to see more detail at this stage in order to assess the likely impact of the regulations.  We’ve been closely scrutinising these proposals from the outset to ensure the system maintains high standards and helps the very best to enter the profession regardless of their background."

Joe Egan added: "We have always said we strongly support a centralised assessment set at the right level to allow the broadest range of applicants to qualify and to maintain the strong international reputation of solicitors in England and Wales.”

“The SQE also must be sufficiently challenging and rigorous to maintain the global reputation of the solicitor brand. This matters to the profession – but it matters just as much to consumers and to UK PLC. The Law Society will continue to emphasise the importance of ensuring not only that the new tests are developed appropriately, but also that academic and work experience requirements are subject to proper scrutiny to ensure standards.”

The introduction of the SQE will also end the existing transfer scheme for foreign lawyers of other jurisdictions. In light of Brexit, it is crucial that the negotiations between the EU and the UK are taken into account.

Joe Egan said: "Given the international standing of the solicitor’s profession, it is important that the SRA provides more detail and clarity as to what criteria the SRA would apply for the recognition of other jurisdictions and qualifications, and experience obtained outside of England and Wales. Our response will highlight the need to retain current exemptions and support the continuation of the EU lawyers’ framework.”

Read the full consultation response

Notes to editors

  • This consultation is the third published so far by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on the new standards for becoming a solicitor.
  • Introduction of the SQE is planned for September 2020.
  • The SQE 'super exam', would comprise a series of centralised assessments of knowledge and skills.
  • The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) is a transfer scheme which provides qualified lawyers, who are not admitted as solicitors in England and Wales, with an alternative route to qualification as a solicitor of England and Wales to the domestic route.
  • The jurisdictions currently recognised under the QLTS will retain recognition, and those lawyers who have already qualified through the QLTS will not be affected.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

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