Family Law Group Director, Simon Leach gave his view on the new route to training as a solicitor, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)
As an employer what is your experience of SQE?
Mixed at present. The pass rate is quite low and our apprentices tell us the preparation courses are often blindsided by the questions asked in the actual exam. Nearly all our apprentices have Law Degrees, but this has still left them feeling quite daunted by the wide range of subject material covered in SQE 1.
What are the benefits compared to the LPC route?
I’m not sure at this stage other than cost. We have employed part time LPC students and now do so under the SQE scheme. The period to qualification as a solicitor is quicker than under the usual Law Degree/LPC route but we were on the whole very satisfied with the quality of candidates joining us through the LPC route.
What support do you give to the SQE apprentices at Family Law Group?
Paid study leave and depending on whether the SQE Apprentice meets the criteria for government sponsorship, either 95% of course and exam fees paid or a contribution to such fees by way of an interest free loan and grant.
How much of a contribution are the SQE apprentices able to make to the firm?
As paralegal support, an enormous contribution to the smooth and effective running of the firm. As solicitors, time will tell, but we are confident that our selection and development criteria are rigorous enough to provide our SQE Apprentices with the skills needed to become Family Law specialists.
Are you likely to increase your focus on recruiting SQE apprentices in coming years?
Yes, there is a shortage of Family Law solicitors generally, so with the market as it is, it makes perfect business sense to develop our own lawyers in accordance with the firm’s Core Values and Beliefs.
In summary, Family Law Group extends substantial support to SQE apprentices through paid study leave, financial aid for courses and exams, and a nurturing environment that values their contributions, especially in paralegal roles. Given the existing shortage of Family Law solicitors, the firm anticipates a heightened focus on recruiting SQE apprentices in the foreseeable future.
For further insights on SQE assessments and their content, visit the SQE assessment website at sra.org.uk. Interested in joining our team? See our current career opportunities here