Deloitte launches new training contract designed to fit into the Solicitors Qualification Exam

October 29, 2019

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Big Four firm Deloitte, has launched a new training contract programme which has been designed with the upcoming Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in mind. The new programme makes Deloitte one of the earliest adopters of the new SQE.

What does this mean?

Deloitte has announced that it has worked closely with the University of Law to develop a programme to prepare students for the new SQE. Deloitte Legal’s new SQE training contract will be three years long rather than the traditional two, allowing graduates to take up their place straight after university and gain qualifying work experience before sitting stages 1 and 2 of the SQE.

Successful applicants will begin the training contract in September 2020 and will eventually qualify in 2023. The training contract will be expected to be client-facing during periods of their training and will allow trainees to gain experience across a number of Deloitte Legal’s practice areas.

What's the big picture effect?

The SQE was announced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2017. Under the current system, prospective solicitors would have to complete the LPC before starting their training contract. The SQE will require applicants to sit SQE stage 1 and stage 2 and undertake two years of qualifying work experience.

The announcement by Deloitte makes them one of the earliest adopters of a new training contract model. BPP Law school has also revealed details of its new SQE-compliant PGDL for those wishing to pursue a legal career who did not study law as an undergraduate.

With the introduction of the SQE expected to be in September 2021, we should expect to see many other firms also announcing changes to their training contract to adapt to the changes.

Additionally, for Deloitte, this signals a growing effort to expand its legal services capabilities following being awarded the alternative business structure (ABS) licence in 2018, which permitted the firm to provide reserved legal services in the UK.

Deloitte's insights...

When LittleLaw spoke to Deloitte about the new scheme, we were able to find out a bit more about why they’ve decided to launch the new programme.

Deloitte's program vs. the current LPC...

One huge benefit for applicants on their new scheme is that they’re able to “start earning and gaining Qualifying Experience before sitting their SQE 1 exams.” This differs from the current arrangements where trainees must complete an additional year of law school to pass the LPC before going to work.

The benefits of "earn while you learn"...

The benefits are important when it comes to broadening access to the legal profession and making it as inclusive as possible. “With the new legal apprenticeship as part of Deloitte’s successful BrightStart Apprenticeship programme, it is possible to become a solicitor without ever having gone to university.  This additional route to qualification can only be beneficial from the diversity and inclusion perspective,” they said.

Other benefits of its programme...

The model of “learning whilst working” isn’t new at Deloitte. In fact, they’re confident that the scheme will be a success because they’ve done similar things in their other departments. Deloitte told us that “not only is this a fantastic opportunity for aspiring solicitors to earn while they learn instead of attending an additional year of law school, but they can also encounter the wealth of expertise that Deloitte can offer as a multidisciplinary firm.” Lawyers on the scheme “will benefit from client-facing periods during their training and will gain valuable experience across a number of Deloitte Legal’s areas of practice including tax litigation, employment and corporate and commercial law”.

The length of the programme...

Deloitte has opted for a 3-year programme when the SQE could theoretically be completed more quickly. When we asked Deloitte about this, they said: “The programme has carefully factored in the various commitments required, and we believe three years will allow enough time for students to study and pass their exams while obtaining qualifying work experience at the same time… The model means we can take what we have learned over many years in accountancy and tax recruitment and apply it to trainee solicitors.”

Report written by Juliet Majekodunmi

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