How to fix disparities in outcomes in the SQE

By Freedom Law Clinic | uncategorised | Published on June 20, 2024

Recent research commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and conducted by the University of Exeter has highlighted enduring disparities in legal qualification outcomes based on ethnicity. This investigation delves into the root causes of these discrepancies and proposes strategies to enhance outcomes for all students.

As a leading provider of SQE preparation, Freedom Law Clinic is committed to addressing these challenges head-on.

For us, these disparities are not about one exam. They reflect problems with the entire way we train law students.

We have created an education system which promotes nepotism and demotes meritocracy. It’s time we fixed it.

The Scope of the Research

The SRA’s research primarily focused on qualifications predating the SQE, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Despite the introduction of the SQE, early data indicates that similar outcome disparities persist.

Key Findings

Financial and Networking Support

One of the critical findings is the impact of financial support and networking opportunities on students’ outcomes. Legal work, training opportunities, and education sponsorships significantly alleviate financial pressures and bolster students’ confidence and self-belief. These factors are crucial in enhancing educational outcomes and professional success.

At FLC, we provide immediate access to the industry through pro-bono work. This allows anyone, irrespective of background, to start networking from day-one.

We create environments in which ‘networking’ becomes something anyone can do. You don’t need to ‘know how to network’. You need to know how to be yourself.

Early Educational Disparities

The Department for Education’s data reveals that educational outcome disparities are evident from an early stage, particularly among Black pupils taking A-levels. This trend continues into higher education, with 60% of Black students and 70% of Asian students achieving a first or upper second-class degree, compared to 79% of White students.

Professional Education and Employment Outcomes

The research highlights that those with more positive pre-university educational experiences, influenced by factors such as location, peers, and teacher support, tend to achieve better professional education outcomes. Notably, the percentage of LPC students whose employers funded their courses was significantly higher among White students (45%) compared to Asian (24%) and Black students (26%).

Recruitment and Employment

The study found that recruitment processes heavily relying on A-level results without considering contextual factors often favored White students. This perpetuates the status quo of diversity and representation in the legal profession. Furthermore, a higher percentage of White LPC students (66%) had secured legal roles post-LPC, compared to Asian (43%) and Black students (45%).

Moving Forward: Inclusive SQE Preparation

At Freedom Law Clinic, we recognize the imperative to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all SQE candidates. Here’s how we aim to address the identified challenges:

  1. Holistic Support Systems: We offer comprehensive support, including financial assistance and mentorship programs, to alleviate financial pressures and provide a robust support network for all students.
  2. Contextual Recruitment Processes: We advocate for and implement recruitment processes that consider the broader context of students’ academic achievements, ensuring a fairer evaluation of potential.
  3. Enhanced Networking Opportunities: By fostering connections within the legal industry, we help bridge the gap for students lacking existing contacts, thus leveling the playing field.
  4. Continuous Evaluation and Improvement: We commit to ongoing evaluation of our programs and incorporating feedback to ensure that our SQE preparation courses remain fair, unbiased, and effective for all students.

But more than all of this – we want to build a new way to teach and train lawyers. One which reflects ability, potential and passion.

If you want to help us – join us. Reach out on WhatsApp, email or via the contact us page.

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