University From Down Under Taking Advantage Of Less Restrictive SRA Rules

The College of Law Australia and New Zealand (not affiliated with the previously known College of Law England and Wales, now The University of Law) has set up in London as a practice based training provider, looking to provide courses for the forthcoming Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE). 

Partnering with US firm BARBRI, who offers bar review courses, the newly formed College of Legal Practice (COLP) will design SQE ready courses, a move that has become easier since the change in the SRA Rules that have removed various restrictions on training contracts.

COLP will be offering ‘highly flexible’ learning to students, making elements available online, which will also reduce the overall cost of the course, opening up the SQE to more students who may have previously struggled to afford the GDL or LPC.

The SQE looks to replace both the Legal Practice Course and Graduate Diploma in Law in autumn 2021.  Split into two parts, the SQE1 will focus on the knowledge of law and procedure, followed by SQE2 which examines legal practice skills.  The course has been designed to be more flexible for students completing their training contracts as they will be able to split the two years on-the-job training between up to four different organisations which can be done before, during or after the SQE.

Professor Nigel Savage previous CEO for the University of Law and, current interim CEO of COLP said to publication Legal Cheek: 

“I believe we are uniquely positioned to create a new and genuinely 21st Century approach to education in this sector. The new SQE will create a sea change in legal training, and has provided the impetus for this change, but significantly The College doesn’t have the baggage of the old LPC. We’ve started afresh, and in so doing are creating a flexible relevant proposition that removes barriers to entry for students and candidates and will fulfill our aim of significantly broadening access to this profession. Our proposition will enable legal service providers to shape career development to deliver to their strategic priorities.”

This appears to be good news for future students who look for less conventional courses.

A recent analysis by Professor Stephen Vaughan, of University College London, looked into whether the introduction of the SQE would make any difference to the way law was taught at an undergraduate level.  Professor Vaughan feels his data suggests that law schools, with the exceptions of a few innovative ones, remain conservative in the way they teach law, staying with the accepted view of teaching the foundation subjects; public law, contract, tort, land, crime, trusts and EU law, worth 30 credits each.

The removal of restrictions imposed by the previous SRA Rules will allow law schools to become more innovative in their ways of teaching. COLP is looking to deliver learning:

Neville Carter, the CEO of The College of Law Australia and New Zealand, said:

“…directly into the workplace within a very flexible framework of work placement.  The model drives access to the legal services market and fuels the growth of employment opportunities.  We believe that the reforms in England and Wales provide and opportunity for us to share what we have learnt in Australia and across Asia and assist in shaping new models and pathways in England and Wales.”

It will be interesting to see the steps law schools take to make use of the more relaxed rules for those wanting to study law.  Will more open up different ways of learning, such as the College of Legal Practice and the Northumbria University who will be offering Apprenticeship Degrees in September 2020?

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