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The SQE will be introduced in September 2021 and candidates will able to sit the first SQE1 exam in November 2021.
The SRA has also set out the transitional arrangements, which will be in place for those who have already started on the existing routes or who have accepted a place on an existing qualifying law degree, GDL or 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).
The SRA will continue to approve the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to the end of the academic year 2025/26. Any 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.
Anyone who falls within the transitional arrangements will have until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the existing routes.
For details of transition arrangements for foreign qualified lawyers see Qualifying abroad to work in the UK.
Information for candidates
If you're an aspiring solicitor, there is no reason why you should not continue to follow the current path of education and training.
The current routes will remain valid until the introduction of the SQE, at which point you can continue along the path 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 Competence and the knowledge set out in the Statement of Legal Knowledge.
Information for employers
If you're an employer offering or considering offering a period of recognised training, you can continue with your current arrangements until the introduction of the SQE.
At this point 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 will change 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 will be no requirement for different areas of work, or for contentious and non-contentious work. However candidates would 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.