Fieldfisher is advising the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on the contractual agreements for the provider which will eventually assist the SRA in delivering the new Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE), also known as ‘the super-exam.’
A team from the firm, led by technology partner Sam Jardine and head of privacy Hazel Grant, tendered for the work over six months ago. It is understood that the work is at an advanced stage, with the SRA expecting to tender the contract out imminently. The contract was due to be tendered by this summer.
Fieldfisher are the only firm working with the SRA on the draft contract for an independent organisation, which will take ultimate responsibility for the delivery of the SQE once it is finalised.
Speaking to Legal Business, Fieldfisher’s senior partner Matthew Lohn and a practising lawyer in the firm’s public and regulatory law group, said that although the work involved a standard contract, the overall impact it will have on legal training was substantial.
‘It is a big issue for the legal work per se, but in terms of what needs to be done, once the strategic direction has been settled, it is not that glamourous a piece of legal work.’
Lohn added that the context surrounding the super-exam ‘has made it interesting for sure’. The firm was ‘thrilled to win the work, and with our experience in contractual outsourcing, it was an obvious piece of work for us to go for.’
The SRA confirmed in April that the planned SQE was due to be implemented by 2020, following two formal consultations. This was despite a mixed reaction from both the legal profession and legal education providers.
Concerns about the single, centrally-set exam have ranged from serious alarm over the draft syllabus which the City of London Law Society (CLLS) has said is significantly less relevant for many solicitors qualifying today or in the future, to uncertainty over much of the detail of the changes, including the ultimate cost, which is as yet undetermined by the SRA.
In May, the SRA named Capsticks as its sole provider for disciplinary and litigation work, opting to abandon a law firm panel approach.
The six firms that formed the previous litigation and investigations panels were Kingsley Napley, Simmons & Simmons, Capsticks, Devonshires, Russell-Cooke and Bevan Brittan.
Capsticks’ working relationship with the SRA dates back to 2009, and the firm was appointed to the SRA’s litigation panel after a successful retender in 2013.
Disputes partner Daniel Purcell will lead for the firm on the new sole mandate.