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Universities compete for City trainees ahead of SQE roll-out

By Jemma Slingo >>

Competition between training providers is heating up ahead of the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam next month, with the University of Law striking a deal with City firm Taylor Wessing.

From next year, future trainees at Taylor Wessing will study ULaw’s SQE programme, which will focus on the skills needed to work in commercial law. The profession previously raised concerns that the new qualification route – designed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – would fail to adequately equip graduates for City work.

Wendy Tomlinson, talent director at Taylor Wessing, said: ‘We were looking for a partner who shared our sense of purpose and approach. Our new trainees will join Taylor Wessing not only fully trained in legal matters but also commercially aware and business ready. We continually strive to achieve success for our clients and people through creativity, teamwork and technology, enabling ideas and aspirations to thrive and prosper.’

ULaw’s largest rival BPP was enlisted by a consortium of six firms in 2019 to prepare future trainees for the two SQE assessments. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Slaughter and May, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells and Norton Rose Fulbright are collaborating with BPP to design an ‘integrated suite’ of education and skills programmes.

Despite the imminent introduction of the SQE, however, BPP has yet to announce how much its new course will cost. In February, ULaw said it has developed an LLM Legal Practice course costing between £12,000 and £16,500. The LLM – which will prepare students for both elements of the SQE – will eventually replace the Legal Practice Course.

The SQE will be introduced on 1 September, with the first examinations scheduled for November 2021.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)