The SQE was introduced in September 2021. Candidates were able to sit the first SQE1 exam in November 2021.
The SRA has set out the transitional arrangements that will be in place for those who have already:
- started on the existing routes, or
- accepted a place on an existing qualifying law degree, Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Professional Examination (CPE) course
This only applies to courses that begin up to and including 31 December 2021, so long as the student has accepted the offer by:
- 31 August 2021 (inclusive) for GDL or CPE courses, or
- 21 September 2021 (inclusive) for qualifying law degree courses
The SRA will continue to approve the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to the end of the academic year 2025/26.
Anyone who falls within the transitional arrangements will have until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the existing routes.
If you're unsure which route will be most appropriate for you, the SRA has developed an LPC or SQE decision tree to help make this choice.
For details of transition arrangements for foreign qualified lawyers, see qualifying from abroad to work in England and Wales.
Information for candidates
Students who fall under the transitional arrangements can continue on the existing route into the profession by taking the LPC as long as providers continue to make courses available.
Candidates who benefit from the transitional arrangements can alternatively voluntarily move to the new SQE route if they wish.
Candidates who have started or accepted an offer of a training place before September 2021 can also continue on the existing route and complete a period of recognised training. Employers can decide whether and when they should move over to the SQE, so long as they do so before the cut-off date.
If you're an aspiring solicitor, there is no reason why you should not continue to follow the current path of education and training. You can continue along the qualification routes you've chosen under the transitional arrangements, or alternatively move across to the new system at the next transitional stage.
However, there are no exemptions available when moving across to the SQE system. Remember that your current or future employer may have a view on this and that your decision should be based on your own personal circumstances.
Information for education providers
If you're a provider of academic legal education, you may want to consider the ways in which your offering could incorporate the:
- competences set out in the statement of solicitor competences, and
- knowledge set out in the statement of legal knowledge
Information for employers
As the SQE has been introduced, you can decide whether to continue your current arrangements for candidates under the transitional arrangements or move to the SQE.
You may wish to look at the types of experience your candidates gain in relation to the areas they will be asked to experience and be assessed on under the SQE.
The introduction of qualifying work experience (QWE) changes the way training contracts are offered. Employers can make arrangements for qualifying work experience for their candidates as best suits their business needs, so long as candidates are given the opportunity to develop the competences set out in the statement of solicitor competence.
There is no requirement for different areas of work, or for contentious and non-contentious work with QWE. However candidates will still benefit from experiencing different areas of practice in a structured way, as well as having the opportunity to interact with clients and undertake specific pieces of work.
The employer will have the right to set the contract with the candidate they employ however they choose, and the SRA will not be involved in this process.