COVID-19 Updates From The Lawyer Portal
TLP understands the concerns of current and aspiring law students during this uncertain period. We have created this page to be the go-to resource for all your questions relating to COVID-19 and how the legal practice is likely to be affected.
*The COVID-19 situation is changing quickly. Often from hour to hour! We’ll do our best to keep this page as up-to-date as we can. But it’s always worth double checking the latest updates.
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GCSEs and A-Levels
All GCSE and A-Level exams due to take place in May and June have been cancelled.
Students will receive calculated grades that take into account teachers’ assessment of the grade they are likely to achieve in addition to other factors such as previous attainment. If students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam once schools and colleges open again.
No change at the moment – exams still expected to begin in September 2020.
Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘Flexibility within the admission process will be enhanced and extended to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and the announcement that there will be no exams this year. We are confident that our team and systems are ready to adapt throughout the spring and summer.
‘We will continue to work closely with colleagues across the education sector including Ofqual, the Department for Education, the Scottish Government, Office for Students and Universities UK.
The organisation explained that once changes are confirmed, students will be emailed, so it’s important to make sure your email address is updated in Track.
Many universities have confirmed that GDL/LLB exams will be conducted online instead of on campus. Please check the individual universities’ websites for the most up-to-date, accurate information.
The University of Cambridge has announced it will move all “face-to-face lectures” online until Summer 2021 however that some smaller teaching groups may be able to take place in person if they can conform to “social distancing requirements”
The University of Manchester has announced the cancellation of face-to-face classes for the upcoming autumn term.
The SRA has confirmed that law schools can apply to run assessments online to avoid delays. Check your institution for specific details.
The BSB has announced that its assessments, which were postponed from April to August 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are to be sat exams remotely.
The BSB has also confirmed that anyone due to complete their BPTC or BTT who has been offered a pupillage will be able to move forward with the beginning of their placement whilst waiting for results to be published in November as long as the pupillage provider thinks this is permissible. For more information, read this update.
Those embarking on bar training can take the BCAT online with Pearson VUE.
Visit this page for FAQs relating to postgraduate law study at BPP Law School.
Several chambers have officially postponed/suspended their mini pupillage placements:
Chambers that have postponed their mini pupillages include:
- Exchange Chambers
- One Essex Court
- Brick Court
- Fountain Court
Chambers that have suspended their schemes include:
- Hailsham Chambers
- Maitland Chambers
- Devereux Chambers
Meanwhile, Blackstone Chambers will be running their mini pupillage scheme remotely.
Spring Vacation Schemes, Workshops and Legal Internships
The following firms have postponed their spring schemes:
- Allen & Overy
- Slaughter and May
- Shearman & Sterling
- Goldman Sachs
- Baker McKenzie
- Herbert Smith Freehills
- Charles Russell Speechlys
- Cheltenham and Guildford.
- Penningtons Manches Cooper
- Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Weil Gotshal & Manges
- Norton Rose Fulbright
- Watson Farley & Williams
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom (UK) LLP
- Mayer Brown International LLP
- Mishcon de Reya
- White & Case
For more detailed information, read our COVID-19 & Law weekly update.
Summer Vacation Schemes
The following have been postponed:
- Cripps Pemberton Greenish
- Maurice Turnor Gardner
- Womble Bond Dickinson
The following firms will offer their schemes online:
- Pinsent Masons
- Clifford Chance
- Taylor Wessing
- Blackstone Chambers
- Vinson & Elkins
- Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
- Debevoise & Plimpton
- White & Case
- Mayer Brown
- Slaughter & May
- Travers Smith
- Bird & Bird
- Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP
- Baker McKenzie
- Squire Patton Boggs
- Osbourne Clarke
Herbert Smith Freehills has cancelled its 2020 summer vacation scheme but students due to undertake it will be invited to interview for a training contract. The firm will hold a four-day long virtual vacation scheme for successful candidates.
Linklaters will offer a two-week virtual vacation scheme this summer.
It is not yet clear if future pupils will be able to take the exams and qualifying sessions necessary before starting their pupillages. The Bar Standards Board says “the impact on Chambers is also as yet not quantifiable,” and that it will continue to talk to course providers and to the Inns and to work in cooperation with each other to provide opportunities for requirements to be fulfilled as soon as possible.
Irwin Mitchell and DWF have announced it is delaying the start date of its September 2020 training contracts until February 2020.
The SRA is accepting applications from Professional Skills Course providers to temporarily move their teaching and assessment online or to remote proctoring of assessment.
However, as some students had concerns that this still would not fit in with their timeline of admission due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SRA will now allow students to apply to defer completion of the PSC for admission as a solicitor. Students will need to ensure they successfully complete the course within 12 months of being admitted.
Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe have postponed their training contract assessments until early 2021 in light of COVID-19.
DLA Piper has offered future trainees up to £10,000 to voluntarily push their start dates. Other firms reported to be paying trainees to voluntarily defer include Baker McKenzie and Penningtons Manches Cooper.
Professional Skills Courses
Providers of the course are making amendments to put their courses online ensuring trainees can finish their qualifications on time.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority said: “Certain parts of the compulsory core subjects for the PSC require face to face assessment. We appreciate that it will be challenging to meet these requirements during the outbreak. We have therefore decided to consider applications for online or remote proctoring of assessments for the PSC, or assessment of oral skills by video-link”
PSC providers must apply for approval before making the changes and the changes will be assessed on a provider by provider basis. Approval may also be reviewed by the SRA at any stage.