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