Category “LegalCheek”

Virtual student event NEXT WEEK: Funding the SQE — with BPP University Law School

Friday, 21 January, 2022

Thursday 27 January, 4pm to 6pm, taking place virtually

The recent introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is opening doors for aspiring solicitors.

With funding a key consideration for students looking to undertake the SQE, Legal Cheek is partnering with BPP University Law School on the afternoon of Thursday 27 January for a virtual student event exploring the different funding options on offer.

As the LPC is phased out, questions are left in students’ minds as to how to go about funding the new SQE course. Is government-backed masters funding available for those doing the SQE? Are SQE scholarships on offer? What are the pros and cons of taking out a bank loan and privately borrowing the SQE fees? These are just some of the questions which the speakers will seek to answer.

Date: Thursday 27 January
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Location: Virtual event
Level: Students, Graduates

Also up for discussion will be how the introduction of qualifying work experience (QWE) offers a new route to ‘earn while you learn’, with providers also offering part time study options. The speakers will discuss, too, the route of law firm sponsorship and what it means to be sponsored, as well as uncovering the hidden costs of the SQE regime – looking at how exam fees and prep course fees are charged.

The speakers are Caroline Rayson, Head of SQE Programmes at BPP and former solicitor at Ashurst and Osborne Clarke, and Jonny Hurst, BPP’s Head of Outreach and former City law firm partner. They will be joined by some current BPP students.

Following the panel discussion there will be virtual networking with the speakers and the BPP University Law School team.

Secure your place now.

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Just over half of students pass first ever SQE

Friday, 21 January, 2022

Regulator identifies ‘attainment gap’ among ethnic groups

The results for the first ever Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) are in, with just over half of candidates (53%) passing the first stage of the assessment (SQE1).

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today announced the pass rate after yesterday’s results day was marred by technical issues and delays, resulting in some students finding out their scores late into the night and some claiming to have received other candidates’ scores.

Some 1,090 students, including 27 solicitor apprentices, took the exam in November 2021 across more than 100 test centres in 26 countries.

SQE1 involves two Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) exams: FLK1 and FLK2. In total, 53% of candidates passed both assessments, with 67% passing FLK1 and 54% passing FLK2.

Commenting on the results, Anna Bradley, chair of the SRA Board, said: “The introduction of the SQE should give everyone confidence that those entering the profession have all met the same high standard. So we are pleased that the first assessment has gone well with results that suggest it was a robust, fair and reliable exam.”

“It will of course take time for the full benefits of the SQE to be realised, but this is a good start,” she said.

Geoff Coombe, the independent reviewer of the SQE, concluded: “I must emphasise that overall, the way in which the individual questions and overall tests performed was very good from a technical assessment perspective and lessons learned from the SQE pilot have been applied very well.”

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

The SRA found there to be no difference between the results of men and women. However, there was a large discrepancy between white candidates, 65% of whom passed, and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, where the pass rate was only 44%. The regulator last month drafted in Exeter University to examine the “attainment gap” between different ethnic groups.

Bradley said: “We anticipated that we would again see the troubling difference in performance for candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups that has been a longstanding and widespread feature in examinations in the legal and other sectors. We know the reasons will be complex and, as well as ongoing review and analysis, we have appointed Exeter University to carry out in-depth research to better understand the factors driving the attainment gap for these groups in professional assessments, so that we can do everything we can to address the issues.”

The SRA further found there to be no significant difference in results based on socio-economic background. For example, there was no significant difference between the performance of candidates who declared they went to non-selective state schools (57%) and those who went to a private school without a bursary (54%). And between those who were from a working class background (54%) compared to those with a parent or guardian from a professional background (56%).

Factors such as achieving a top grade at university or prior work experience were indicators of a greater likelihood to pass.

Pass rates on the SQE’s predecessor, the Legal Practice Course (LPC), varied significantly between training providers. For the academic year to August 2020 the LPC pass rate ranged from 31% to 100%. The SRA said it is committed to publishing the breakdown of SQE performance by provider from late 2023 to benefit future candidates and help providers evaluate the effectiveness of their training.

The SQE officially went live on 1 September 2021, setting in motion the gradual phase out of the GDL and LPC. The first SQE2 sit will take place from 11 April 2022, with bookings due to open on Tuesday. The next SQE1 exams take place in July 2022.

Planning to sit the SQE but unsure what your funding options are? Legal Cheek is partnering with BPP University Law School for a virtual student event on Thursday 27 January exploring the different funding options on offer and how exam and prep course fees are charged. Secure your place.

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SQE results day hit by technical issues and delays

Friday, 21 January, 2022

Some students found out their results late into the night, whilst some claim to have received other candidates’ scores

Yesterday’s first ever Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) results day was marred with delays and technical issues, resulting in some students finding out whether they had passed or failed late into the evening and some receiving other candidates’ scores.

Over 1,000 students who sat the first stage of the assessment, known as SQE1, in November 2021 were due to receive their results on Thursday by 3pm.

Whilst some students were able to successfully access their results ahead of the 3pm deadline, many reported being in a state of panic after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s online SQE portal crashed.

SQE support groups and student forums were awash with concerns from students who were left hanging, receiving only part of their results, while others claimed to have been sent results with a different candidates’ name and number.

SQE provider Kaplan, which runs the exam on behalf of the SRA, said in a statement issued this morning to Legal Cheek that it was made aware by “a small number” of candidates of inconsistencies in “non-exam information” displayed on the website. The matter has been investigated and there was found to be “no reportable data breach”, but the SRA has notified the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

A message some students were met with when attempting to log-in to view their results

Legal Cheek understands that a number of candidates were impacted by the delays and technical issues, which went on well past 9pm.

One student told Legal Cheek how she received the results of another candidate yesterday afternoon and how her class-mates, who did receive their results before 3pm, began to query whether they were their actual results, causing panic and confusion. “We just wanted to know our results so we could decide to progress onto SQE2,” she said. “It was a less than positive experience.”

It is understood that the technical issues were resolved by about 10pm and students were able to view their results.

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

A Kaplan spokesperson said in a statement: “A technical issue meant that some candidates were unable to access their SQE1 results yesterday afternoon. We have now resolved this issue, and candidates were invited to access their results from last night.”

“We were made aware by a small number of candidates of inconsistencies in non-exam information displayed on the website,” the spokesperson continued. “We have investigated to ensure that no sensitive information was released in error. We have determined there was no reportable data breach but the SRA has notified their relationship manager at the ICO as part of their standard process. We would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank candidates for their patience.”

SQE1 examines functioning legal knowledge and involves two exams (FLK1 and FLK2), with each being over five hours long and made up of multiple-choice-questions. It costs just over £1,500 to sit, with prep courses at an additional cost.

The pass mark for FLK1 is 57% and for FLK2, the pass mark is 56%. The SRA is expected to announce the pass rate shortly.

The SRA expected to release SQE1 results six to ten weeks after the first SQE1 exams took place in November. The results date was pushed back from 24 December 2021 to 20 January 2022, meaning the SRA took the maximum ten weeks to announce the results, causing further aggravation to some students. “I think it shows exactly how students have been treated by the SRA all along to be honest. It’s been ten weeks and they can’t even sort out a system to handle 1,000 students,” one student wrote on forum The Student Room.

The SQE officially went live on 1 September 2021, setting in motion the gradual phase out of the GDL and LPC. The first SQE2 sit will take place from 11 April 2022, with bookings due to open — tech permitting — on Tuesday.

Planning to sit the SQE but unsure what your funding options are? Legal Cheek is partnering with BPP University Law School for a virtual student event on Thursday 27 January exploring the different funding options on offer and how exam and prep course fees are charged. Secure your place.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

The post SQE results day hit by technical issues and delays appeared first on Legal Cheek.

Milbank reignites pay war — raises London NQ lawyer rates to $215k

Friday, 21 January, 2022

That’s nearly £160k 😲

Just as it looked liked the pay war sweeping the City was finally easing, US law firm Milbank has gone and chucked even more cash at its already minted junior lawyers.

The New York headquartered firm announced yesterday that rates for its newly qualified (NQ) associates will move from $205,000 to $215,000 — a bump of 5%.

The firm’s London lot have been handed the same rises, according to an internal memo first seen by Above The Law, taking salaries this side of the pond to roughly £158,480 based on today’s exchange rate.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows the uplift puts Milbank’s NQs firmly at the top of the junior lawyer pay table, with Vinson & Elkins and Kirkland & Ellis sitting just behind with rates of £153,300 and £150,000, respectively.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Associates further up the ladder have also seen their salaries increase. Those with two and three years post-qualification experience (PQE) will now earn $225k and $250k (£165,791 and £184,212), while those at the very top of the associate pile will receive an eye-popping $385k (£283,686). The uplifts are retroactive to January 1.

The move comes just six months after the firm boosted junior rates twice in a matter of weeks — $190k to $200k, followed by $200k to $205k.

But law students hoping to secure a training contract at this mega-money firm face stiff competition; Milbank recruits just seven UK trainees each year.

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Freshfields keeps 34 of 37 spring qualifying trainees

Friday, 21 January, 2022

92%

Freshfields has recorded a spring retention score of 92%, with 34 of its 37 newly qualifying (NQ) trainees committing their futures to the magic circle firm. All rookies received an offer.

“We are very pleased that many of our March qualifying intake will be continuing to progress their careers at the firm,” said Craig Montgomery, partner and training principal at Freshfields. “This is a testament to the talent and determination demonstrated by our trainees, and the learning and development opportunities afforded at Freshfields.”

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The firm did not reveal whether any of its new associates are on fixed-term contracts as apposed to permanent deals.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows those sticking around will see their salaries jump from a trainee rate of £55,000 to an NQ one of £100,000.

Freshfields becomes the third member of the magic circle to confirm its spring result, with Slaughter and May and Linklaters recording scores of 85% and 94% earlier this week.

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Best of the blogs

Friday, 21 January, 2022

Weekly round-up of the top legal blogosphere posts

Is it really OK to dress down at work? [Financial Times]

Why hasn’t the Metropolitan Police brought Boris Johnson in for questioning? [New Statesman] (free, but registration required)

The preposterous excuse of the Prime Minister — and why it matters [The Law and Policy Blog]

Are sex offenders exploiting trans-rights policies behind bars? [The Spectator] (free, but registration required)

New sentencing powers may overwhelm prisons [A Lawyer Writes]

I don’t protest for my health. Kill the bill to save democracy — not self care routines [The Critic]

Perfume N°5 v N°9: Chanel won an unfair competition case in China [The IPKat]

We must do something to level the playing field in the SDT [Law Society Gazette]

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Clyde & Co raises junior lawyer pay to £80k

Thursday, 20 January, 2022

14% rise

Clyde & Co has increased the salaries of newly qualified (NQ) solicitors in London to £80,000.

The new rate comes into effect this month and marks a 14% rise on the £70,000 previously awarded to solicitors upon qualification. It also means that the firm’s NQs now earn the same amount of money as their peers over at Dentons and Osborne Clarke.

Trainee pay at Clyde & Co has been held for now pending a review in the summer, a firm spokesperson said. Clyde & Co trainees earn £40,000 in their first year, rising to £42,000 in their second year. The firm offers around 45 training contracts each year.

Clyde & Co has also restructured its bonus schemes in the UK. As part of the changes to its chargeable hours bonus scheme, the firm’s solicitors will see an increase in the payment levels to a maximum of 25% for those achieving the highest chargeable hours threshold. In addition, staff will receive a referral bonus for new work introduced to the firm.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Rob Hill, chair of Clyde & Co’s UK board, said: “At Clyde & Co we are focused on investing in our people in all respects so that they can enjoy long, fulfilling and varied careers with us while providing clients with the market leading levels of service and legal advice they expect from a firm of our standing. This means providing our lawyers with the best training, an environment in which they can grow and give the best of themselves, and the chance to work with colleagues around the world on varied, interesting, and demanding client instructions.”

He added:

“As part of our focus on our people we regularly review our salary levels and bonus schemes, which play an important role in rewarding our people’s contributions to the firm’s success and recognising outperformance.”

Clyde & Co joins a growing list of law firms raising the salaries of their junior lawyers in the war to attract and retain talent. Check out what all the top law firms pay in our 2022 Firms Most List.

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Shoosmiths and Aston Uni join forces to support disadvantaged sixth formers into law

Thursday, 20 January, 2022

West Midlands teens to benefit from sessions and events in new 18-month programme

Shoosmiths and Aston University have come together to launch a new programme that looks to prepare under-represented and disadvantaged sixth formers for studying law at university.

The Pathways to Law programme will see up to 30 year 12s from the West Midlands receive guidance and support from the firm’s lawyers and academics at the Birmingham-based university.

Shoosmiths is to host three core events over the 18-month programme, with Aston Uni to provide taster law sessions and offer information, guidance and advice about life as an LLBer. The scheme launches this September.

Victoria Potts, Shoosmiths associate and the lead on the creation and delivery of the programme, commented:

“I am looking forward to partnering with Aston University to work to open up the legal profession for students who would not normally see their career within it. We are keen to develop a pathway which widens the social profile of candidates in the legal profession and is representative of the community it serves.”

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Shoosmiths — recently ranked one of the top 75 UK employers for social mobility — recruits around 30 trainees each year.

A number of law firms have been upping their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the profession.

In autumn last year, Osborne Clarke launched a mentoring scheme that sees them provide CV and interview support to secondary schoolers, while Norton Rose Fulbright offered a bursary scheme to provide financial support to aspiring lawyers.

Earlier that year Gowling WLG pledged to help fund Black students through law school and Freshfields and Linklaters both launched mentoring schemes with social mobility aims.

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Slaughters reveals spring trainee retention rate of 85%

Thursday, 20 January, 2022

33 out of 39

Slaughter and May has become the second magic circle firm to reveal its 2022 spring retention rate, following Linklaters which announced a result of 94% earlier this week.

Slaughters confirmed 34 of its 39 trainees due to qualify in March received offers, with 33 accepting. All are on permanent deals.

This gives the firm, which offers nearly 90 training contracts a year, a retention rate of 85%.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 show the rookies staying on will receive a newly qualified (NQ) salary of £107,500 after the firm announced an increase last month. This is nearly double the firm’s second year trainee salary of £55,000.

Today’s result is slightly down on the firm’s 2021 spring rate, when it retained an impressive 93% (38 of 41) of its qualifying trainees.

The remaining members of the MC — Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Freshfields — are yet to reveal their spring figures.

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‘Toxic work culture’ impacting productivity, say half of legal workers

Wednesday, 19 January, 2022

New research finds nearly two fifths feel less engaged with their roles as a result

Half of legal workers say their productivity has been impacted by ‘toxic workplace culture’, new research has found.

The findings, produced by software business Culture Shift, further show almost two fifths (38%) of those surveyed have been less engaged with their roles as a result of their workplace culture, while a little over a fifth (21%) having taken time off due to an incident which occurred at work. Seventeen percent reported calling in sick as a result of an incident.

The report also found that more than a quarter of legal workers (29%) would quit their current role as soon as they could find a new job, if they encountered or witnessed bullying or harassment. Nearly half of the 100 or so respondents (46%) said they would encourage a colleague to lawyer-up if they knew they were experiencing toxic workplace behaviour.

“The real impact of toxic workplace culture shouldn’t be underestimated. Often, people presume that problematic behaviour only impacts those experiencing it, however our research shows otherwise,” commented Gemma McCall, CEO of Culture Shift.

There are major financial implications, too.

Researchers say absenteeism is costing businesses billions through lost productivity, while those on the receiving end of bullying and harassment receive an average payout of £381,350. They also found, on average, employees are personally footing bills of £1,629 for things like therapy and legal fees.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

McCall added:

“It’s not just the cost of legal fees and pay-outs which businesses need to be aware of, but having a toxic workplace culture directly impacts the bottom line through lost working hours, having to recruit new employees and paying temporary staff to cover long-term sick leave. In addition, problematic workplace behaviour can impact an investor’s decision on whether or not to provide funding.”

The legal profession has been blighted by reports of toxic workplace cultures.

An unnamed female partner grabbed headlines in 2020 after she went public with her decision to quit the “toxic” law firm she worked at for 13 years. Taking to forum Reddit, the lawyer explained how she felt overworked and undervalued, with workplace adjustments flatly ignored.

Struggling with the stress of work? Contact LawCare via its helpline or live chat.

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