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The launch of a book to celebrate 200 years of the Birmingham Law Society (BLS) took place on 22nd November at an event hosted by Wesleyan, the specialist financial services mutual who have also sponsored the publication.

Our Legal Community – Two hundred years of the Birmingham Law Society by local historian Dr Sally Hoban, forms part of BLS’ bicentenary celebrations and charts the organisation’s history from its foundation in 1818 through to present day and its impact on the region’s legal community.

Book launch 221118

Left to right : Adam Gilbert, Else Solicitors, Ann Charlton, Lawcare, James Turner, President Birmingham Law Society, Dr Sally Hoban (Author), Ahmed Farooq, Wesleyan Chief Financial Officer, Betty Webb, MBE, Paul Owen, Wesleyan Employee Engagement Manager

Dr Sally Hoban, the book’s author said: “I was the first historian to be given access to Birmingham Law Society’s archives and it was absolutely fascinating. It is the country’s oldest law society and their story really illuminates a huge part of Birmingham’s history.”

Dr Craig Errington, Wesleyan Group Chief Executive, added: “We are delighted to have played a part in Birmingham Law Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations. There are not many organisations that can claim to have a longer history in Birmingham than Wesleyan’s 177 years.

“Our recent history has given us cause to work more closely with BLS as they supported us when we extended our financial services offering to the legal profession, launching initially in Birmingham in 2007.

They have provided valuable support and insight and helped us to build the strong relationships we have today with the legal profession across the UK.”

During the event guests heard from speakers including Dr Sally Hoban, James Turner, President of the Birmingham Law Society and Ahmed Farooq, Chief Finance Officer at Wesleyan. Specialists at Wesleyan also provided sessions on savings and investments, risk management and cyber risk awareness.

The Wesleyan Group

  • Wesleyan provides specialist financial advice and solutions for doctors, dentists, lawyers and teachers.
  • Wesleyan is a mutual founded in Birmingham in 1841.
The Wesleyan Group has more than £7.6 billion of assets under management as at 31 December 2017.
Wesleyan Assurance Society Head Office: PO Box 3420, Colmore Circus Birmingham B4 6AR. Website:

Legal 500 is back in the Birmingham Post

Annual supplement looks at the top individuals, law firms and barristers' sets operating in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The full article in the Birmingham Post is here.

The supplement can be found here.

Legal 500 BP Nov18 cover

Legal 500 November 2018 in association with Birmingham Law Society and Fraser Urquhart Media is now online.


Legal 500

Well a lot has been happening in the last few days in legal education! Yesterday the SRA has announced it will delay implementation of the SQE until autumn 2021 which is a relief to most people apart from solicitor apprentices who will be completing their revolutionary journey to qualification in 2022. The transitional provisions for anyone who has already started their legal education will run until 2032.

Since the SRA announced their assessment provider was Kaplan, we have had information coming thick and fast. We now have indicative pricing (for the assessments only), a date for implementation and an announcement that Kaplan will be reducing the number of assessments for SQE1 from 6 to just 3 exams. No news on exact assessment specification but that’s expected to be in December. All 3 assessments must be sat at the same time, no picking them off one by one during a law degree. The 3 exams will be 1. Company/commercial; dispute resolution; contract and tort. 2.Property law and practice, wills and the administration of estates, equity and trusts and solicitors accounts. 3. Criminal law and practice, public and administrative law, EU and the legal systems of England and wales. Ethics will pervade across all assessments. Combined price is up to £4500. Pilot exams will start in March next year.

The 3 proposed exams form interesting combinations of subjects and based on the last assessment specification, aspiring solicitors will be answering 120 questions in 180 minutes across quite a range of subject areas.

The indicative prices are just that, indicative and there are many caveats on those price points including, but not limited to, whether there is to be a Welsh version of the SQE. Note that legal systems includes Wales too.

At BLS we realise that these changes pose a significant challenge to many firms varying in size and practice area. We are therefore proposing to run a conference in February/March to help firms understand these changes, the opportunities and challenges of legal apprenticeships and how the SQE is likely to impact.

Don’t forget the Bar

There have also been significant announcements from the BSB and LSB recently. The Bar Standards Board has announced their 4 pathways to qualification at the Bar and they are now requiring all chambers offering pupillages from autumn 2019 to apply for status as an Authorised Education Training organisation regardless of how long they may have been training pupils. There is also to be a minimum wage for pupillages in line with the living wage foundation recommendations- more on this from them in the New Year. Then there is the continued involvement of the Inns in the admission to the bar and their support for COIC, all of which is likely to impact next year!

I will write more about all of this to help members at all levels understand what is coming but in the interim this summary from the Law Society issued last week is a helpful guide to the SQE

and the SRA announcement from today is available here;

The BSB are also publishing their proposals on their website.

Catherine Edwards
Director of Learning and Development
Chair of the Education and Training Committee
Senior Practitioner - Keele University
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