Are leading Law firms ready for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

BPP recently partnered with Trendence UK to survey both large and small law firms on the new and upcoming ways of qualifying as a solicitor. Research specialists Trendence and BPP asked 59 law firms and 1,300 students how aware they are of the SQE, their understanding of the differences between the SQE and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Qualifying Law Degree (GDL), their perceptions of the new assessment and finally, how they are planning to accommodate changes.

The report offers key insights into the attitudes and plans of the profession and its prospective trainees as the SRA enter the crucial stages of implementing the new examination. Collectively, the law firms who took part in the survey represent about 15% of all the training contracts offered annually in England and Wales and also represent a broad cross-section of the sector. Their attitudes and responses to the SQE, along with those of law and non-law students who aspire to the profession have been summarized in our SQE study. The report highlights the overwhelming majority of firms are aware that the route to qualification is changing, however less than half (44%) feel that they understand the changes. That said 33% do not fully understand the scope of the new assessment.  It would seem law firms, regardless of size, share a general concern about the SQE even if their understanding of the implications is more varied. Interestingly, the more firms said they understood the SQE changes the less positive they felt about it. Furthermore, when asked if law firms will require additional training for their prospective trainees above and beyond the test preparation strictly necessary for the SQE curriculum before entering the workplace   – a staggering 77% said they believe they will require this.

Many firms are dubious that the SQE will lead to more diverse profession, one of its main objectives, nevertheless the survey also makes clear that significant proportions of law firms remain neutral about the SQE. Students too seem willing to be convinced that the new career landscape has benefits.

Download the full report here