Over 10,000 solicitors have notified the Solicitors Regulation Authority that they will be seeking criminal advocacy accreditation next year when the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) begins.
The controversial scheme is scheduled to start on 14 January when all solicitor-advocates wishing to practise criminal advocacy will be required to register with the SRA.
The requirement to register will be done in three phases, beginning with the Midland and Western circuits. Solicitors working on the South Eastern circuit will register from June and those on the North, North East, and Wales and Chester circuits will register in September.
An SRA spokeswoman said the number of solicitors who have notified them of their intention to work as advocates is around the number expected. Any solicitors or European lawyers who have failed to notify the SRA of their intention to practise should do so before the commencement of the January registration.
Details of the scheme, which is being designed jointly by the SRA, the Bar Standards Board and Ilex Professional Standards, remain the subject of a fourth and final consultation that closes on 9 October. The SRA board is expected to approve its format at the end of November before it is submitted to the Legal Services Board for approval in December.
SRA executive director Richard Collins, said: 'We are encouraged by the positive response we've had to the notification exercise; it will provide some interesting new data on access to legal services as well as giving an indication of the number of solicitor-advocates intending to register.'
He added: 'We are now just a few months away from launching a scheme which will ensure a common standard of competence for advocates which we feel must be in the best interests of consumers, as well as the profession as a whole.'