Time is running out for the Legal Practice Course
If the Solicitors Regulation Authority gets its way, aspiring solicitors wanting to qualify using the current Legal Practice Course (LPC) route should start their law degree or GDL conversion course as soon as possible...*
If the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is successful with its new plans for professional training, anyone who has not started their ‘academic stage of training’ before autumn ’21 will have to qualify under the SRA’s Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The current stated exception to this is for those applicants who accept a place on a course due to start before autumn ’21, but then defer their start date.
At the time of writing this blog, legal educators are waiting to hear whether the Legal Services Board will approve the SRA’s introduction of a common assessment for all would-be solicitors from 01 September 2021.
Earlier this summer, legal education providers contacted the SRA to seek clarification as to the true meaning of the words on their website: If you start, complete or accept an offer for a qualifying law degree before autumn 2021, subject to final approval from the Legal Services Board you have two ways to qualify.
This is rather confusing because almost every student who starts their QLD course in September or October 2021 will have accepted their offer before the Autumn of 2021 (if we assume autumns starts 22 September), and this includes students who apply for an undergraduate degree through 2021 Clearing. The SRA has tried to provide clarity by stating that the option to qualify under the current LPC route only applies to students who have deferred their place from 2020, although those students starting a GDL in, for example, January 2021 will have clearly started their course before autumn 2021. If this is the case, all students who plan to start their law degree or GDL (or equivalent) in September/October 2021 will, subject to the approval of the Legal Services Board, have to qualify under the proposed SQE route.
We won’t know the true picture until the Legal Services Board announces its approval (or otherwise) and so for now, those wanting to become a solicitor may choose to start their academic training sooner rather than later…
Leeds Law School offers a suite of qualifying law degrees starting September 2020, and a ‘conversion’ course for non-law graduates with start dates in September 2020 and January 2021 – to find out more about our courses please visit our website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please note that this blog was originally publish on 24 July 2020. On 30 July 2020, the SRA announced it was amending its transitional arrangements so that the introduction of the requirement to qualify via the SQE route would be delayed. In their press release on this, the SRA state:
‘Some universities have told us that they would welcome a longer period running [sic] these courses as they prepare their new SQE programmes, given the significant challenges managing the impacts of Covid-19.
We have responded by updating our approach so that we will extend our validation of QLDs and CPEs to courses which start any time before 31 December 2021, provided students accept their offer on or before 31 August 2021.’
Please go to the SRA’s full press release and related guidance for more detailed information: sra.org.uk/sra/news/press/sqe-final-design-costs/
Louisa is Head of Law with a professional background in legal practice and devised theatre. She is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales (non-practising) who trained and then practised as an employment lawyer at a large corporate law firm in Leeds.