Linklaters has partnered with BARBRI Global, a leading global legal education provider, to prepare lawyers qualified in another jurisdiction but who are based in its London office for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
As part of this partnership, Linklaters and BARBRI will also be working with leading refugee employment charity, Breaking Barriers, to offer up to five fully funded SQE 1 preparation programmes with BARBRI per year to lawyers with a refugee background living in the United Kingdom.
Joanna Keefe, Linklaters Global Corporate Responsibility Manager, said: ‘Promoting and protecting refugee rights globally and using our skills to help people in our local communities to access employment and education opportunities are longstanding priorities of our Social Impact work. We are pleased to be working with Breaking Barriers and BARBRI to increase access to the legal profession for individuals who might otherwise face financial barriers to undertake the SQE prep course.’
Matthew Powell, CEO and founder of Breaking Barriers, said: ‘There is no national strategy to support refugees in the UK to take their first steps into work. This leads to unemployment, exclusion and untapped potential. With support from partners such as BARBRI and Linklaters, we can help people from a refugee background to access the legal profession and acquire the knowledge, confidence experience and qualifications they need to gain stable, fulfilling employment matching their skills and aspirations.’
In response to the SRA’s move to replace the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) with the SQE, Linklaters sought to appoint a training provider for lawyers qualified in another jurisdiction who are required to requalify in England and Wales. These lawyers will study for and sit the SQE 1 and SQE 2 exams concurrently with working at the firm’s London office.
BARBRI Global was selected due to its extensive experience in preparing candidates for similar exams (such as the QLTS and New York and California U.S. bar exams). Of particular importance for this specific population was BARBRI’s flexible and highly exam-focussed programmes capable of being provided on a just-in-time basis, delivered through its adaptive learning technology, and not reliant on classroom-based learning. This means lawyers can learn quickly and effectively whilst balancing their busy day job.
Derek Tong, Linklaters partner who was involved in this tender process, said, ‘As someone who did the QLTT (the predecessor of the QLTS) while working, and having mentored many of my associates through the QLTS, I thought it was essential we have a provider whose time-effective programmes allow maximum flexibility around work commitments.’
Victoria Cromwell, Director of UK Programmes at BARBRI Global said: ‘The introduction of the SQE ensures that all qualified solicitors, irrespective of their route into the profession, will meet the same high standards consistently; and integral to this will be robust and rounded preparation. BARBRI brings together years of proven experience with world-class learning technology to deliver the best opportunity for SQE success. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Linklaters, to train its lawyers qualified outside of England and Wales for the SQE, and we are particularly proud of the partnership we have established with Linklaters and Breaking Barriers to support refugee lawyers to become qualified as solicitors in England & Wales.’