WILL THE SQE ACCOMPLISH ITS GOAL OF DIVERSIFYING THE LEGAL SECTOR?
The SRA's declared goal in reshaping legal education was to increase the number of people of colour in the profession of solicitors. The LPC gamble of spending about £17,000 on the LPC without knowing whether they will be employed at the end of it was eliminated by eliminating the need for students to pass the LPC before receiving a training contract and qualifying as a solicitor (excluding those lucky few who were granted a training contract while on the LLB or GDL of course).
The SQE will provide a wider variety of entry points into the field. A bachelor's degree and passing the SQE are required, as well as two years of qualifying work experience and the ability to demonstrate that you fit the SRA's character and suitability standards for becoming a solicitor.
SQE preparation courses are expected to appear, and we determined that the SQE will not obliterate regular training contracts. Students will be clamoring for the opportunity to study Law in depth. What works for legal firms will continue to work for them. So courses that look a lot like the GDL and LPC are likely to continue along with a wide variety of online and crammer courses.
This market reality will severely impact SQE's goal of diversification. The SQE1 and SQE2 exams may be taken without any prior study. According to the SRA, the SQE exam alone may cost anywhere from £3,000 to £4,500. That is a lot of money just to take an exam. And taking it without any preparation would be like gambling away the money you would spend on the exam itself.
Currently, we know how much preparation classes will cost. A wide variety of courses will be available, both in cost and quality. BPP and University of Law's GDL and LPC courses will cost between £8,000 and £16,000 if we compare them to the courses provided by BPP.
That means the "LPC gamble" is being replaced by an "SQE gamble" at a comparable cost. One of the worst parts is that students from less advantaged backgrounds will have fewer resources — money, experience, and time — and will be the ones most harmed by the trade-off between paying for a prep course and having a better chance of passing or getting a job at the end of it, as is currently the case.
A best-in-class preparation course will still be available to those who can afford to pay for it. One of the things students have been complaining about on the SQE is the course lacks background information and students are unsure of the principle that is being applied. Providing educational tools and legal information to everyone is a top priority at Private Law Tutor Publishing. Our Core Series text book can be very useful to SQE students. These Core Law books can be the difference between passing and resitting the SQE.