Careers

Qualifying from abroad to work in England and Wales

From September 2021, lawyers from abroad and overseas students who wish to qualify in England and Wales can sit the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE allows you to qualify as a solicitor by taking the same exam as domestic candidates. The first examinations will take place in November 2021.

Unlike the previous system, the SQE offers more flexibility and opportunities for overseas students to qualify in England and Wales, as you can meet most of the requirements from abroad.

Read more about the SQE

Requalifying

If you’re a foreign lawyer looking to requalify in England and Wales, the SQE replaces the qualified lawyers transfer scheme (QLTS).

Read our guidance for foreign lawyers wishing to re-qualify as solicitors of England and Wales

SQE requirements for overseas students

If you’re an overseas student, in order to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, you’ll need to:

Degree-level experience

If you have a degree or equivalent qualification from outside the UK, you can take the SQE if your qualification is:

Equivalent experience if you do not have a degree

Even if you do not have a degree, you can take the SQE if you can show work experience equivalent to a UK degree.

This would be a sufficient standard of general education and learning (level 3 equivalent of the Regulated Qualifications Framework) and considerable work-based learning.

Applications for equivalence will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Read more about equivalent qualification (such as an apprenticeship) or work experience

SQE assessments

Exam structure

The SQE is divided into two parts:

  • SQE1 consists of two exams in multiple-choice question format
  • SQE2 consists of a series of practical assessments of skills through written and oral examinations

More details on the structure of the SQE

Sitting the assessments outside the UK

You can sit the following parts of the SQE at a range of test centres internationally:

  • SQE1
  • SQE2 written assessments

However, you'll need to sit the SQE2 oral assessments in England or Wales. The assessments take place over two and a half days.

Find your nearest test centre on the Pearson website

Note you cannot book your assessment directly through Pearson VUE.

You may not be able to sit your assessment at your nearest centre, as seats are allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

Costs

The total cost of the SQE assessments is £3,980, which breaks down as:

  • SQE1 – £1,558
  • SQE2 – £2,422

In addition to this, candidates may wish to take courses, or buy resources, to help prepare for the SQE assessments.

How to prepare

The SRA will not require candidates to complete any preparatory courses before sitting the SQE.

However, taking an SQE preparation course may give you the best chance of passing the assessment.

Find an SQE training provider

Work experience outside the UK

You can carry out the two-year qualifying work experience (QWE) anywhere in the world, but it must be signed off as meeting the SRA requirements by a solicitor of England and Wales.

QWE can be done at a maximum of four separate organisations, including:

  • law firms
  • legal clinics in academic institutions
  • law centres
  • other appropriate organisations

There will be no minimum length of time for placements.

The work experience does not need to be completed in one block directly before qualifying as a solicitor. Candidates can gain experience as you progress through your education, and this can include summer work placements or work as a paralegal, so long as it's signed off.

Candidates should consider whether a placement will offer enough time to develop the necessary competencies you'll be seeking to have confirmed and signed off.

Read more about QWE

Qualifying as a solicitor via the old route

If you're already on your way to becoming a solicitor by September 2021, you can complete your qualification through the traditional route.

Read more about the transitional arrangements and who qualifies

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