SQE: landmark new route to qualifying as solicitor launches
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will today introduce the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), marking the beginning of the biggest change to how aspiring solicitors can enter the profession for almost 30 years.
Aspiring solicitors will now be required to take two sets of centralised assessments designed to evaluate competence for entry to the profession, as well as meeting requirements for a degree level qualification (or equivalent) and two years' qualifying work experience (QWE).
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“Aspiring solicitors can now choose to undertake the SQE. This new system has the potential to further the legal sector’s desire to widen diversity and inclusion and positively affect social mobility. We must hear from different voices and reflect the diverse jurisdiction we are living in. I strongly encourage the profession to engage positively with the changes.
“Paralegals who may have struggled to qualify due to the limited number of training contracts now have a more accessible route into the profession.
“There is greater flexibility around what constitutes QWE, which can be completed over an extended period, at up to four separate placements, with no minimum length of time for each placement.
“The Law Society and its Lawyers with Disabilities Division continue to work with the SRA to ensure that the SQE is accessible for disabled candidates, including through the use of assistive technology.
“The transitional arrangements give educational institutions and employers time to adjust their offering over the coming years. Anyone who falls under the arrangements will have until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the existing routes.
“The Law Society will be monitoring the SQE as it is implemented and will continue to support the profession with QWE and employment considerations arising from the changes.
“We will also be continuing to ensure that those seeking to enter the profession are able to do so, by lobbying the UK government to ensure there is sufficient funding in place for all, that reasonable adjustments are available and there is fair treatment and opportunity for those who wish to practise the law.”
Notes to editors
- Aspiring solicitors currently complete a law degree, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and two years of work-based training
- From September 2021, this system will be replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), which requires a degree level qualification (or equivalent), two years of qualifying work experience and the completion of two sets of centralised assessments
- Candidates must:
- complete a degree-level qualification or equivalent
- complete both stages of assessment, SQE1 and SQE2
- complete two years of qualifying work experience (QWE)
- satisfy the SRA’s character and suitability requirements
- In September 2021, the total basic cost of SQE assessments will be £3,980 – this does not include any preparatory cost, which would be in addition to this:
- SQE1 – £1,558
- SQE2 – £2,422
- Student finance applies to undergraduate and Masters degree level courses – there is currently no stated commitment from government to make funding available for freestanding SQE preparation courses or the costs of the SQE assessments, although some course providers have made arrangements with private loan providers.
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