Six months to go till SQE
The six-month countdown has begun until the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduces a new route to qualifying as a solicitor – the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
There will be a gradual transition to the new system, but solicitors need to get up to speed on the changes that are coming.
From September 2021, aspiring solicitors will take two sets of centralised assessments designed to evaluate competence for entry to the profession.
- 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
The SQE will widen the ways in which it is possible for someone to become a solicitor with new pathways, such as apprenticeships.
Paralegals and others who may have struggled to qualify due to the limited number of training contracts will now have a more accessible route into the profession.
The current period of recognised training will be replaced by QWE.
There will be greater flexibility around what constitutes QWE, so firms and in-house departments which offer training will need to understand these requirements.
QWE can be completed over an extended period, at up to four separate placements with no minimum length of time for each placement. This is in contrast to the current training, which must be completed in one, two-year, block.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “With six months to go until the SQE, we are keen to make the profession fully aware of the changes to routes to qualification.
“There will be a gradual transition from the current system to the SQE system, giving educational institutions and employers time to adjust their offering. Anyone who falls within the transition period will have until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the existing routes.
“Some employers are already taking advantage of the changes by taking on candidates for legal apprenticeships, as an alternative route to the university model to qualifying as a solicitor.
“We understand that some may be anxious about this change, but there is a real opportunity to widen diversity and inclusion within the profession and positively affect social mobility.
“The Law Society will be on hand during the next six months and beyond, to support the profession to engage with and make the most of the opportunities the SQE brings.”
Notes to editors
- Most 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, two years of qualifying work experience and the completion of two sets of centralised assessments.
- 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.
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928