On 7 December 2015 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) published a consultation.
The consultation - Training for Tomorrow: assessing competence - looked at how the Competence Statement for solicitors (which sets out a level of competence against skills and legal knowledge) will be assessed for entry to the profession. A response is required by 4 March 2016. The proposals from the SRA centre around a series of centralised assessments for knowledge and skills, possibly without any pre-requisites for education or training or regulated pathways to qualification, bar the possibility of some form of work-based experience.
The Law Society responded to the SRA’s earlier engagement document, setting out serious concerns and its preferred route to entry, and highlighting that the SRA is yet to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). The SRA has addressed some of these concerns in their consultation paper.
The SRA’s consultation is the first of two, the second of which is planned for summer 2016 and will look at entry requirements and pre-qualification work experience for sitting the proposed Solicitor Qualification Exam (SQE). The current consultation paper looks to explore these issues but not to make any decisions as yet. It contains little real detail on the assessments, or any detail on the assessment framework, which will be published at the end of 2016.
The SRA anticipate introducing changes to the qualification no earlier than September 2018.
The Society is concerned that members of the solicitors profession should be aware of the potential impact of these proposals on the solicitor brand and the ability to recruit talented individuals to the profession and to ensure that their voice is heard. Therefore the Law Society encourages individuals and organisations within the profession to respond direct to the SRA consultation – by 4 March 2016.
Read the SRA consultation Training for Tomorrow: assessing competence – deadline 4 March 2016
Read the JLD’s statement in response to publication of the SRA consultation.