David Rosen & Co

Why Do Law Students Need a “Fitness To Practice” Test?

Values, morals and ethics are essential qualities for a person entering the legal profession.

Foundations for The Future

Are today’s law students going to be fit to practice as solicitors? I read the corporate strategy of the Law Society with intrigue and trepidation.

Intrigue because I am excited about what the future holds. Trepidation, because underlying our great profession is an assumption that our fellow members hold high professional standards.


Forgive my effrontery when I say:
“If the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) principles comprise the fundamental tenets of ethical behaviour, and those rules dictate an exercise of judgment, alongside maintaining trust and acting fairly, what test do we use to evaluate that those who enter our profession are capable of exercising judgment?”


How do we really know that an individual has the propensity to act in a way conducive to upholding the rule of law, maintaining, and conforming to our regulations, whilst preserving public trust?


The assumption is that because declarations are given from them, and from those supervising them through their training contract, that we assume they are fit to practice.

Morals and Ethics

I make no bones about my mission to create; be a part of a team; head the team, to create a questionnaire/test, based upon morals and ethics, to ensure that those who enter our profession, are capable of exercising judgment, and knowing right from wrong, in a professional capacity. The assessment would be a repeated evaluation as:


‘A “fitness to practice” test to be taken prior to entering University, and again, before applying to Law School, and once more prior to being admitted to the role of Solicitor.‘


Failure would not mean automatic unfitness, but instead, referral to complete a course of ‘Morals, Ethics, Scruples, and Quandaries’: to educate the would-be solicitor and reinforce the ethics and professional standards, essential to practice law.

David Rosen's "Kaleidoscope Of Duties For Lawyers" is a part of his MESQ: Morals, Ethics, Scruples and Quandries course for student lawyers.

Aptitude Testing for Students

The medical profession has an aptitude test (UCAT, and BMAT), and there exists, a Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT). Whilst the LNAT tests reasoning skills for entry into university, they are not an exercise of morals and ethics to enter our profession.


Indeed, there is a short suitability quiz, if one wished to become a Judge by the Judicial Appointments Commission “Am I Ready – Suitability Survey (surveymonkey.co.uk)”. This appears to test emotional intelligence, patience, empathy, sympathy, discretion, and diplomacy amongst other reasoning and listening skills.

I feel very strongly about this. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss with The Law Society of England and Wales and/or the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, a similar assessment for aspiring and graduating law students.

I created the course “MESAQ: Morals, Ethics, Scruples, and Quandaries” with a notion that the moral compass of students might need calibrating, only to find that some of the students were devoid of any moral compass at all. I believe Globalisation and social media are largely to blame for this shift in conscience. A constant exposure to the sensationalism of extreme emotions over a prolonged period, is sufficient to destabilise a sense of balance and stability.


I believe that moral bankruptcy is caused by an overwhelming sea of information, without an understanding of what is important. It is all very well learning how one should behave and think, to give balanced considerations of judgment. Without knowledge and understanding of morals and ethics to the core of our conscience, individual judgment is warped.


I welcome further discussion and action on this recommendation.

Professor Rosen is a solicitor-advocate in practice and principal of David Rosen & Co. He specialises in counter-fraud and counter-corruption in both criminal and civil jurisdictions of English Law, as well as divorce and finance. David holds memberships with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Royal United Services Institute, and the Society of Legal Scholars amongst others. He is a full academic Professor of Professional Practice at Brunel University Law School where he lectures one day each week.

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