Pathways for future lawyers: The SQE set in context

Pathways for future lawyers: The SQE set in context

In 2013 Becky Huxley-Binns charted the path into legal practice of three children who passed their GCSEs in 2000 and tried to predict what the pathway might look like for those same future lawyers had they passed their GCSEs in 2020. At the end of her post she asked whether 4 years down the line we’d call her attempt at crystal ball gazing a reasonable guess for its day.

Those 4 years have now passed. We asked Dr Jessica Guth, Senior Lecturer in Law, Leeds Beckett University to take a new look at Becky's three future lawyers and consider whether Becky's predictions still stand.

Essentially Becky's guess was a good one given what what we knew in 2013 but things have shifted significantly making the pictures in Jess's crystal ball rather more pessimistic than the ones Becky saw.

Framework and assessment

When Becky wrote her post in 2013 we knew that there would be changes to the regulation of education and training for aspiring legal professionals. We knew the changes would be based on a competence framework. We did not know the details of that framework or how it would be assessed. We do know now that the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Competence Statement which includes the Statement of Underpinning Legal Knowledge will be assessed by the Solicitors Qualification Exam or SQE. The SQE has two parts, the first assesses knowledge through multiple choice questions whereas the second part comprises skills based assessments. In addition aspiring solicitors need to hold a degree or equivalent qualification and undertake a period of supervised practice.

So let’s presume, like Becky did, that Andrew, Julia and Stephen sit their GCSE’s in 2020. Here’s what might happen to them:


Andrew completes his A-levels and attends a prestigious and high ranking university well known for its socio-legal and liberal approach to legal education. He studies a variety of legal subjects during his

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