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Don’t just give SQE trainees ‘repetitive admin tasks’, regulator warns law firms

SRA seeks to protect rookies qualifying under new regime

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has warned law firms not to take “unfair advantage” of trainees qualifying under the new super-exam regime, stressing that there should be more to work placements than just “repetitive administrative tasks”.

In new guidance published yesterday, the regulator says qualifying work experience (QWE) must involve “diverse and varied work” that offers “exposure to ethical issues”, as well as help to develop trainees’ professionalism.

The SRA stresses that “a placement that mostly offers repetitive and limited administrative tasks and legal transactions is unlikely to help”, and it “may act against a firm or a solicitor if these obligations are not met”.

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The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) provides a more flexible approach to on-the-job training, with rookies able to complete their two-year work experience requirement with up to four different legal employers. There is no minimum or maximum prescribed length for each individual placement.

The new approach follows raised concerns among certain sections of the legal profession, with the Junior Lawyers Division warning that wannabe solicitors were at risk of “exploitation”.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) said it had received assurances from the regulator on some areas of initial concern when it finally approved the SQE in October, including additional safeguards around QWE to help to prevent the poor treatment of trainees.

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