The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that its planned Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will be developed and run by Kaplan.

The US-based company provides educational services in 30 countries and runs the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme in the UK.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “We are delighted to appoint Kaplan after a robust, competitive and open process. Its bid succeeded against some very strong competition.”

He added: “We are now another step closer to delivering a rigorous assessment that helps build trust that all qualifying solicitors are meeting the same high standards regardless of their route into the profession.”

The SQE has been designed as the single assessment for all those wishing to qualify as solicitors to ensure that all those practising have met the same standards. It will replace the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and instead candidates will complete the SQE1, a computer-based assessment, and the SQE2, which will test practical legal skills. There will still be a compulsory period of work-based training, but on a more flexible basis than is currently required.

The proposal for the new qualification route has attracted some criticism and approval has been delayed after legal academics and solicitors questioned the lack of detail about course and exam content. The House of Commons’ justice committee also called for approval from the Legal Services Board to be delayed by six months.

The cost of the exam is also yet to be announced, leaving aspiring solicitors with some uncertainty. The SRA has said this will be decided when the final design of the SQE has been agreed but guidance will be provided in September.

Peter Houillon, chief executive of Kaplan, said: “We look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to build and deliver a world class SQE.”

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