One challenge legal education has recently faced in England and Wales is the introduction by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE will eventually entirely replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to qualification and has dispensed with the requirement for a law degree (or conversion course) and there is no equivalent mandatory postgraduate course to the LPC. This is a significant change, moving to a system where teaching is not mandated at all at any level and solicitor assessment is centralised. Although the reform might appear to potentially free universities from the constraints of a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD), there was speculation when the SQE was introduced that newer universities would feel pressure to amend their undergraduate curricula to align with the SQE, particularly in relation to the SQE1 single best answer MCQ exams which test functioning legal knowledge. Indeed the SRA envisaged that universities might do so. For many years the QLD ‘core’ has resulted in most universities teaching modules that primarily correspond to the foundational subjects and one 2018 study noted how undergraduate law degrees tended to be ‘remarkably similar’ in design. 18 months on from the introduction of the SQE, we ask to what extent universities have felt it necessary to amend curricula to produce “SQE ready” students or “SQE focused” degrees? This paper will present data from a content analysis of university webpages. It will explore whether and to what extent in light of the SQE changes universities have: (1) moved away from the traditional QLD core modules; (2) aligned their undergraduate curricula to SQE; and (3) claim to prepare students for SQE. In doing so it will explore whether the SQE has changed the purpose, aims and delivery of undergraduate legal education in universities in England and Wales.
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 17 Apr 2023|
|Event||Association of law teachers annual conference 2023 - University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom|
Duration: 17 Apr 2023 → 18 Apr 2023
|Conference||Association of law teachers annual conference 2023|
|Period||17/04/23 → 18/04/23|