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Academic u-turn: University comes out in support of SRA trainee reform

While the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) education reforms had been met with hostility by educators, the School of Law at Manchester University has become the first Russell Group school to embrace its reforms.

The School of Law at Manchester University announced this week a five-year plan containing radical changes to the curriculum for all three years of the LLB.

Many of these changes align with the SRA’s proposal to replace existing Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) exams by making all prospective solicitors take the same assessment before qualifying.

After consulting with the SRA and undergoing a strategic review with former University of Law chief executive Nigel Savage, the university has changed its mind.

Head of School professor Toby Seddon said the plan was to confront the issues of government policy, SRA reforms and the impact of technology.

He added: ‘These are not just challenges but real opportunities for law schools like Manchester to better serve the vast number of organisations that recruit our students.’

Savage added: ‘The model for legal education will change radically over the next few years, challenging traditional models – and so it should. The issue now is how the firms respond and the extent to which they the potential flexibility to reshape recruitment.’

Earlier this month, the SRA launched another consultation into its education reforms, following mixed feedback. However it said it would delay implementation another year as it develops its plans.

The SRA found most respondents felt that the introduction of the exam in 2018/19 was too soon and more time was needed to develop and introduce it and to make sure it is right.