SQE one year on

Today marks one year since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), marking the biggest change to how aspiring solicitors can enter the profession for almost 30 years.

“The SQE has now been running for a year,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“SQE preparation courses are running and the first SQE1 and SQE2 assessments have been completed.

“We are currently in the transitional phase, moving from the old system to the SQE.

“It’s important that aspiring solicitors are aware of the state of play when they choose which route they use to qualify and for employers to understand how best to support those they employ.

“The profession should, in particular, be aware of changes the SQE has brought in around qualifying work experience (QWE). This replaces the ‘training contract’ but may also allow an unqualified person working in the provision of legal services to accrue time towards future qualification as a solicitor.

“To assist the profession, we have produced guidance on QWE and QWE for paralegals (which covers all unqualified persons working in the provision of legal services).

“We have also published information on the available funding for the different routes that can be taken for the SQE, including apprenticeships, which some employers are implementing as a good way to train their staff.

“We understand there have been some teething problems with the implementation of the SQE and we will continue to monitor this on behalf of our members.

In January, the SRA published its first SQE1 results, which give an indication of whether the SQE is having the desired effect of improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

65% of white candidates passed compared to 44% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.*

The latest data for the Legal Practice Course showed 65% of white students passed compared with 52% of Asian/Asian British students and 39% of Black students.**

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “We continue to be concerned about the differences in the attainment gap between white and Black, Asian and minority ethnic students.

“The SRA has commissioned in-depth research, which should aid understanding of the causes of differential attainment in legal qualifications and whether and why the situation is worsening or improving with the move to SQE.

Notes to editors

• * Figures taken from the SRA’s SQE1 November 2021 Statistical Report

• ** Figures taken from the SRA’s Education and training authorisation and monitoring activity September 2019 – August 2020 report

• Find out about the SQE transitional phase arrangements

• Read our guidance on QWE

• Read our guidance on QWE for paralegals

• Read more about the SQE

• Read the SRA’s information about the SQE

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