SRA puts controversial education reforms on hold

Alternative routes to qualifying as a solicitor will not be piloted this year as planned, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has revealed.

SRA education and training committee chair Dr Jonathan Spencer said that “it would be wise to spend a little more time in developing” the proposed new alternative to the existing training contract system.

Spencer continued: “The SRA is particularly concerned to improve access for successful Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates, most likely by developing the alternative route to qualification and the associated assessment methods.

“The challenge is to develop a system which is robust enough not to be seen as a ‘second class’ route to qualification, but not so bureaucratic that trainees and their employers are reluctant to use it. We have not yet quite cracked this dilemma.”

Under the proposed new structure, the training contract will be replaced or run alongside a more flexible period of work experience during which trainees will be regularly assessed. This could be completed in just 16 months.

The revelations follow just days after the SRA announced it would disengage the compulsory courses on the LPC from the electives (optional subjects), meaning the year-long course be completed in just six months.

The would allow students who fund the LPC themselves to split the course, taking the electives at a later date or waiting until after they have secured a training contract.