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Students launch petition after Law Society exams date moved

The students say that they now have two fewer weeks in which to study for their exams.

Image: Gavel via Shutterstock

LAW STUDENTS HAVE launched a petition against the moving of their entrance exams for the Law Society, which they say will now take place two weeks earlier than they were initially told.

An email seen by TheJournal.ie purportedly from the Law Society to a student who had already paid their fees for the exams – known as FE1- stated that “due to circumstances beyond our control it has been necessary to change the dates of the Spring 2014 sitting of the FE1″.

The email ended with “sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused by this unavoidable change to the timetable”.

Petition

A petition against the change has so far received 351 signatures. The exams are the only means of entrance into the Law Society’s Professional Practice Course for trainee solicitors.

Most of the students have contracts conditional on them passing all eight exams.

There are two sets of FE1s, one in the autumn, usually September or October, and another set in the Spring, usually April. It costs over €100 to sit each of the eight exams, but some large firms will pay that for trainees.

One student who is involved with the campaign to get the exams moved back told TheJournal.ie that while they personally have four exams to sit, some students might have all eight exams to sit, and so they are concerned about have two fewer weeks in which to study.

“I sat four of them in October and was aware of the April dates since then,” they said. “Over winter I made my preparations to study for April.” He said that the news of the change of date had broken on Facebook due to people who had already paid for the exams posting the email they had received.

He said that the Law Society had originally published a date of 31 March but 1 April was when exams were due to be sat.

The new date for the exams to begin is 19 March.

“Suddenly a fifth of our study time was taken away. It was a shock to everyone,” he said. “I have to get my final exams passed by this sitting.”

One lawyer, who is not connected with the petition campaign, explained that she doubted in general if a law firm would withdraw the offer of a training contract if a student had to re-sit exams. But she said that in the case of some smaller firms, a trainee’s contract could possibly be jeopardised if they failed exams.

If people don’t pass their entrance exams, in any year, they can re-sit the exam during the next round, which may push out their start date as a trainee. Trainees have to have all eight FE1 exams passed before they start in their office.

Moved back

The students said that if the reason for the change is due to Easter or an issue booking a venue, they would ask that the exams be moved back for two weeks, rather than forward.

The student described the exams as “extremely stressful”. He added that if he had eight exams to do, “at this stage I would have a week per subject” to study.

“I‘m not sure the Law Society quite appreciate what a big impact what they are doing would have,” he said.

“If they had said [about a new date] back in November it wouldn’t be a big deal. We’ve suddenly been thrown into position where we have to prepare suddenly,” said the student.

TheJournal.ie contacted the Law Society on a number of occasions but as yet has not received a reply to its queries.

Read: Majority of solicitors don’t expect legal change to cut fees>

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