Students Staff

17 April 2015

First solicitor to qualify through new vocational scheme is Essex graduate

An enterprising University of Essex law graduate has become the first solicitor to qualify through a new vocational training programme.

Robert Houchill

Robert Houchill graduated in 2008

Robert Houchill, who graduated from Essex in 2008 with an LLB, is the first new solicitor to train through the Solicitors Regulation Authority Training for Tomorrow scheme designed to offer more flexible routes into the profession.

Known as qualifying through ‘equivalent means,’ Training for Tomorrow recognises workplace experience.

Robert works in the immigration department at London firm Bates Wells Braithwaite where he was a senior paralegal.

Speaking to The Law Society Gazette, Robert explained that he would have preferred to qualify through the traditional route of a training contract but that there is less distinction between the work of solicitors and paralegals today.

He said: “I am sympathetic to people who are anxious this is going to undermine the profession or reduce the quality of people being admitted. But the SRA has made it a demanding process and you have to provide evidence you’ve done an awful lot to prepare.”

Robert spent four and a half years working as a paralegal before qualifying. After gaining his LLB from Essex, he completed the Legal Practice Course but could not secure a training contract. However, the SRA have said he showed he obtained the same skills and standards during his employment that he would have done as a trainee.

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