International lawyers start applying for SQE exemptions

Qualified lawyers from overseas looking to access the legal profession in England and Wales have started applying for exemptions from the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) may grant exemptions for one or more of the three key components of the SQE when the exam replaces the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) in September.

Read our article on the new SQE route for international lawyers to become solicitors

If an exemption is granted, other lawyers from the same jurisdiction will be able to fast-track their own application.

Find out more about the agreed exemptions

Qualifying for exemptions

To qualify for exemptions, a lawyer’s qualification or experience must be equivalent to the knowledge or skills tested in one or more of the following SQE components:

  • SQE1 functioning legal knowledge 1
  • SQE1 functioning legal knowledge 2
  • SQE2

Find out more about the relevant experience and qualifications for exemptions

If exempt from SQE2, applicants may need to prove their English or Welsh language competence.

Regardless of their home jurisdiction, lawyers qualified abroad are also exempt from the requirement to complete qualifying work experience.

How to apply

To apply for exemptions, candidates must fill in an online form at mySRA. Those who haven’t used mySRA before will need to create an account to access the form.

Bar associations and law societies can also request exemptions for lawyers qualified in their jurisdiction by emailing the SRA's Education and Training Unit.

Taking the SQE

Most of the requirements under the new system can be undertaken abroad.

All SQE1 and the written assessments of SQE2 available at a range of test centres around the world.

SQE2 oral assessments will need to be sat in England and Wales over two and a half days.

The SRA confirmed in March that Irish and Northern Irish solicitors will be exempt from all of the new exam.

Meanwhile, Scottish solicitors are exempt from SQE 2 and can apply for further SQE1 assessments exemptions on the basis of their individual experience or qualifications.

The first sitting of SQE1 will take place in November.

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