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Starting in 2020, Law School Optional in United Kingdom
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Summary: The regulatory board in the UK will allow aspiring solicitors to take a super exam starting in 2020 in lieu of a formal law school education. 

Starting in 2020, aspiring attorneys in the United Kingdom will be given the option to obtain a license without a law school education. Currently, the only route to becoming a practicing solicitor in the country is through law school, which we all know in the United States is expensive and thus burdensome to the majority of graduates. And according to Forbes, it’s no different over there.


According to the publicationthe Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is enacting a major overhaul to how UK solicitors are trained and licensed. Starting in 2020, wannabe solicitors will no longer need a law degree. Instead, they will be given the option of taking a competency-based exam, and Forbes said that this move “will undoubtedly serve to update outdated legal curricula, reduce law student debt, and better serve the public by ensuring new entrants to the profession have core competency and a modicum of practical experience.”

The new “super exam” called the Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) will test competency based and experiential components that can be acquired through non-school paths. The SRA, which regulates the legal industry in England and Wales, conducted thousands of interviews in order to create the super exam.

“By providing a more open-ended, non-monopolistic (if not elitist) choice of paths to licensure, SQE represents an overhaul of British legal training. It shifts focus from course work at expensive universities to competency based experiential learning that can be obtained more efficiently, cost-effectively, and usefully by apprenticeships, jobs that require critical thinking, online learning, and other ‘real world’ means,” Forbes said.

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This update to the British legal industry will no doubt open doors for more diversity in the field, but what are the chances that the United States will one day follow Britain’s lead? After all, we constantly here that the number of law school applicants have dropped, the cost of law school tuition is rising, and graduates saddled with six-figure debts have trouble finding high paying jobs to offset their student loans.

According to Forbes, the answer that the United States will add a national avenue that allows aspiring lawyers to forgo law school is unlikely.

“U.S. Legal education is in dire need of material reform. This has not happened—nor will it—absent independent regulators,” Forbes said. The legal industry’s greatest conflict comes from its self-regulation. Self-regulation is adversely impacting most law students by failing to provide them practice skills, adequate career guidance, and a reasonably priced education. Worse still, law school is—in almost all jurisdictions—the only route to licensure. That discourages applications from qualified candidates and makes many who enrolled in law school sorry they did. It’s time for a British reboot.”

Source: Forbes

Do you think the United States should adopt the UK’s new licensing procedure? Let us know in the comments below.


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