The SQE – Fit for purpose? Fit for pro bono?

LawWorks and Nottingham Law School co-hosted a workshop with CLEO (the Clinical Legal Education Organisation) on June 28th discussing the implications of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) proposed solicitor qualification reforms. The workshop addressed the issue of qualifying work experience in the clinic context and the possible impact of the proposed new Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE) on pro bono and diversity in the solicitors’ profession. The SRA intends to introduce the SQE from 2020, to replace the current system of qualification following recommendations in the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) 2013 report.

Whilst LawWorks welcomes some aspects of the SQE, such as the scope for students to undertake pro bono work in clinics as "qualifying work experience,” and the greater flexibility and lower costs that the reforms aim to achieve, we have some significant concerns that the new framework will not offer a suitable grounding in family, civil and social welfare law.

A briefing on the issues was prepared by Richard Pitkethly, LawWorks, Head of Learning and Practice, and presented at the Workshop. This briefing explains the proposals, identifies key issues, and provides LawWorks’ perspective on the challenges facing legal education and training, and the potential impact of the SQE.