YLAL has today (4 March 2016) responded to the consultation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on a proposed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which would serve as a common professional assessment for all intending solicitors. The stated purpose of the SRA's introduction of a standardised assessment at the point of qualification is in order to "ensure consistent high standards of entry into the profession, providing confidence to the public and employers".
YLAL has concerns about the potential effect the proposed changes will have on social mobility, diversity and the accessibility of the profession, and feels that the SRA has failed to provide sufficient information about the anticipated cost of the SQE and the effect its introduction would have on the status of undergraduate law degrees and the Legal Practice Course. YLAL considers it vital that the SRA properly and fully considers the impact of any reforms on social mobility and the accessibility of the legal profession.
YLAL agrees that the route to qualifying as a solicitor is in desperate need of improvement, particularly given the prohibitive costs of the current legal education system. YLAL welcomes the SRA's willingness to consider new routes to qualification and believes this consultation is a useful first step, but that it does not contain enough detail regarding costs, regulation or implementation.
YLAL's full response to the consultation is attached below. The SRA consultation paper is also available below.
YLAL would like to thank Siobhan Taylor-Ward, Gimhani Eriyagolla, Hollie Wheeler, Zafreen Chowdhury and Anastasia Solopova for preparing this consultation response.