14:45, May 01 335 0 abajournal.com

2017-05-01 14:45:05
‘Super’ exam for UK solicitor candidates coming in 2020

The United Kingdom’s Solicitors Regulation Authority will require candidates to pass a centralized “super” exam starting in September 2020.

The two-part test will include computer-based multiple choice questions and a practical element that may be combined with work-based training, the Law Society Gazette reported.

While alternatives exist, the current path to being a solicitor in England and Wales is generally a three-step process, the Guardian reported in December 2015. Candidates first earn a qualifying law degree or a graduate diploma in law followed by a yearlong program known as the legal practice course. The final step involves two years of on-the-job training in at least three legal areas.

However much of the legal profession remains skeptical of the exam, the Law Society Gazette reported.

“The adequacy of the qualifying legal work experience must also be a key focus. The two-year period of work experience must be at an appropriate standard and sufficiently relevant to what the market requires,” said Robert Bourns, president of the Law Society, which publishes the Law Society Gazette.

“Inequalities may emerge through different pathways within the work-based learning element, with those who follow a more traditional route being potentially perceived as better than those who follow a more flexible pathway with multiple placements,” he told the magazine.

Also, the publication posted Monday that some firms may suspend recruitment programs until more information about the new exam is released. Funding for the test is an additional concern.

“In order for firms to make key decisions regarding the future of their trainee recruitment processes, undergraduate and LPC providers to be able to adequately prepare for the changes required to their current [programs], and individuals looking to qualify as solicitors to make important decisions regarding their career path into the profession. The SRA needs to address these questions as soon as possible,” Kayleigh Leonie, Law Society Council member for Junior Lawyers, told the magazine.

Who will administer the exam hasn’t been determined yet, but it’s expected to be an external organization. There’s also a question of how the new regulation will apply to current candidates. The Gazette said arrangements will be consulted on later this year.