updated on 16 July 2019
The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) in 2021 could enable four times as many graduates to become solicitors than currently qualify every year, according to Mark Edwards of online legal advice provider Rocket Lawyer.
Edwards said that the SQE, coupled with moves by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to deregulate legal services, will put England and Wales “way ahead of other Western legal systems”. Rocket Lawyer is itself an unregulated firm.
As Legal Futures reports, Edwards told the audience at an SRA innovation conference in Birmingham that many solicitors at Rocket Lawyer are former “paralegals who couldn’t get training contracts – they are amazingly talented people, but they just weren’t quite the right fit for the law firm they were going after.”
He continued: “The vast majority of graduates on the LPC don’t get training contracts and find themselves left on the shelf. That’s all going to change. They will be able to do paralegal work and supervise paralegal work in-house, in tech companies, in law firms, in retailers – wherever they are. When they’re ready and when they’ve got the experience they need to be able to take [the SQE], if they pass they will also be able to set up a company and they’ll be able to start providing legal advice.”
Edwards hopes that this could have a highly positive impact on the public’s ability to access justice, which has been severely reduced over the last 10 years of cuts to legal aid: “In a few years’ time we’re going to see probably four times as many solicitors out there… Then suddenly we are going to be able to help all those people currently not able to access justice.”