Legal Services Board approves significant changes to how solicitors qualify

News Team, 30/10/2020

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has approved the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) application to make significant changes to how people qualify as solicitors in England and Wales.

The changes include the introduction of a new centralised assessment, the Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE), and a requirement for a minimum of two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE).

To introduce the planned changes, the SRA needed to apply to the LSB for approval. The LSB approved the application following a thorough assessment and concluded that if the SRA realises its stated ambition, it should have a positive impact on the regulatory objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.

While the LSB’s decision identifies issues that will need to be managed by the SRA, it did not consider them to outweigh the likely benefits of the changes.

The LSB received the SRA’s application on 31 July 2020. The LSB extended the initial 28-day decision period to 28 October 2020. This enabled the LSB to make additional enquiries about the application and fully understand the impact of the proposed changes for people who need legal services, future solicitors, and the profession. The LSB also considered information from third parties as part of its assessment.

The LSB received assurances from the SRA on some areas of initial concern and in response to the LSB’s enquiries on the application, the SRA refined how its proposals would be implemented. For example, the SRA has built in additional safeguards around QWE to help to prevent poor treatment of candidates and extend its approach to monitoring how things are working in reality. It also set out further detail on its expectations around the quality of QWE and how this will be enforced. These changes will ultimately help to benefit and protect the public.

In its assessment, the LSB draws attention to a range of issues that the ...

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