The rationale behind the solicitors qualifying examination (SQE) to increase the profession’s diversity has found support among lawyers but many already wonder whether the proposals are coming too late...
The high cost of entry is also an issue for Gill Garrett, partner and director of finance and business support at 17-partner Hertfordshire-based firm SA Law. ‘It concerns me that graduates are having to defer doing the LPC to try to earn money to pay for it, on top of paying back their student loans.
‘We have noticed over the last few years that most of the applications we have for training contracts come from graduates who have been either paralegals or have worked in other employment areas. The age of trainees starting their training contracts has increased by about three years.’
Garrett’s firm already has an apprenticeship scheme in place, which they promote to schools and colleges in their area, but she says the SQE approach should improve access further. ‘The new examination is good but obviously there is still a way to go before this is implemented. This will help all candidates but particularly those who have found the funding for them personally to be a real challenge.’