The Law Society is pushing for major changes to the entry requirements for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to make the application process fairer and reduce the numbers of candidates taking the course.
The society said that it is investigating the viability of introducing an aptitude test, similar to the one being piloted by the Bar Standard Board (BSB) for entry onto the Bar Vocational Training Course (BPTC).
“We’re at an early stage of a scoping project to assess whether or not the implementation of an aptitude test in a similar vein to that currently being piloted by the BSB to address challenges faced by the Bar, would provide any parallel benefits to the solicitors profession,” explained Law Society chief executive Des Hudson, who first initiated the proposals.
The proposed test, which could only be implemented by Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), has won backing from students who are angry at law schools for taking on candidates who are not “academically bright enough” to train as a solicitor.
A spokesperson for the SRA said in a statement: “The SRA would consider any recommendations to review the current admission criteria for the LPC made by the Law Society but ultimately it is within the SRA’s remit to decide on the standards for the profession, through consultation with all stakeholders.
Law student Grace Salmern, who is studying at Queen Mary University of London, said: “I’ve always backed the test being introduced by the BSB because in my opinion there are too many people wasting their money, on courses like the LPC, who have no real chance of gaining a training contract.”
A report on whether the LPC aptitude test should get the go-ahead is expected to be conducted by the Law Society by the end of the year..
The news comes after the BSB extended its pilot aptitude test for entry onto the BPTC in a bid to ensure the exam was fair for all applicants’ (see story).
The BSB has been continually toying with the idea of introducing an aptitude test for aspiring barristers wanting to secure a place on the BPTC since the publication of the Wood Report in 2008.
But following criticism from the Office of Fair Trading, which hailed such an exam “anticompetitive”, the BSB pushed back its plans to launch a test for 12 months.
Now following a pilot of the test in 2009, which 182 candidates took part in, the aptitude test will be made compulsory from September 2012.