Becoming a dual qualified English solicitor via the SQE
As a lawyer, you're a well-trained, trusted and hardworking part of a well-regarded and prestigious profession, working in a highly competitive environment.
However, gone are the days where your primary professional qualification, in your home jurisdiction, is enough to secure your career.
The legal market – and indeed the world of business – is changing radically.
If you want to carve out a place in the legal world, you need to go beyond the norm and differentiate yourself from other lawyers.
Whether you're a newly qualified lawyer or a senior partner, plan to live in London or develop your practice in your home jurisdiction or another country, becoming a dual-qualified English solicitor will provide you with more legal knowledge, unique practising skills and an outstanding professional profile.
London as a legal and business centre
London is the hub of many business negotiations, transactions and a pre-eminent forum for dispute resolution, and unquestionably one of the command centres of the global economy.
Over half of the FTSE 100 companies, one-fifth of Europe’s 500 largest companies and three-quarters of the Fortune 500 companies choose to base themselves, or have a presence, in London.
London offers a business-friendly environment for all industries and a central international location.
With English law recognised as the dominant law of business, London is both the natural choice and preferred city for dispute resolution – whether litigation or arbitration.
The dual-qualified lawyer
With recent developments in the legal profession, lawyers are no longer confined to the jurisdiction in which they were educated and qualified.
To survive in the new legal order, the new breed of 'international lawyers' must provide sophisticated and specialised legal services to individuals and corporate clients of all sizes, anywhere in the world, tailored to the clients’ needs.
To meet this international demand, international lawyers should have a working knowledge and experience of legal systems of their respective jurisdictions, and have the legal and regulatory right to practise law in multiple jurisdictions unimpeded.
Clients today are sophisticated, their expectations are high and they demand effective, prompt and cost-effective results.
Clients expect lawyers to make business happen by advising on risk, facilitating transactions, and representing and protecting their interests.
It's therefore apparent that in an increasingly competitive world, lawyers with dual-qualification have a competitive advantage over their colleagues and are able to offer a much more comprehensive service to their clients.
Why become a dual-qualified English solicitor?
Prized for its fairness, protection and impartial application, English law remains the preferred jurisdiction for global business.
As the president of the Law Society of England and Wales, I. Stephanie Boyce, said in a recent report about the economic value of English law: “Solicitors in England and Wales are well-placed to advise international business and play an important role in the global economy.”
The title of English solicitor is more than just an addition to your CV or resumé – it’s a mark of global excellence.
Through its historic dominance of maritime trade, English law has played a significant role in influencing the development of legal and regulatory regimes internationally.
Moreover, the training and qualification process in England and Wales is internationally well regarded.
There are several reasons and motivations why lawyers are looking to join the roll of solicitors in England and Wales:
- opening up a variety of career opportunities in the legal marketplace
- enhancing their professional profile, reputation, and marketability in their home jurisdiction
- offering a wider range of legal services to clients
- advising existing clients on matters of English law
- working as a solicitor in London
- getting more business and increasing revenues
Qualifying as an English solicitor takes your professional profile to the highest, most respected level.
You’ll be able to work on a range of domestic and international matters, undertaking work restricted to those who hold the qualification.
Path to dual-qualification: the SQE
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), introduced in England and Wales in September 2021, presents foreign qualified lawyers with the opportunity to become an English solicitor in just a few months, without undergoing a traditional training contract, an internship, or fulfilling any experience requirement.
The SQE is comprised of assessments that test candidates’ application of knowledge of English law, as well as various practical legal skills required as a solicitor.
Foreign qualified lawyers are exempt from the two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE) and may also apply for exemptions from one or more of the SQE assessments.
The assessments are offered in the UK twice a year by a sole assessment provider, Kaplan, which has been appointed by the SRA.
The SQE1 assessment, and the written element of SQE2, are offered in a number of international locations.
To ensure the integrity of the assessment process, Kaplan is not allowed to offer preparation courses for the SQE assessments.
Preparing for the assessments
For more than a decade, QLTS School has prepared thousands of individuals lawyers and candidates from the world’s top law firms for the QLTS, which was the previous fast track route for foreign lawyers to qualify as English solicitors, and now focuses exclusively on offering courses for the SQE.
QLTS School’s preparation courses for the SQE include professionally written textbooks, video tutorials, practice questions, mock exams, online resources and extensive tutor support, with several course packages for each stage of the SQE.
The courses are tailor-made to suit your personal circumstances, whether you work full-time or part-time, live in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
The courses also cater to candidates from a wide range of different backgrounds and varying levels of legal knowledge and experience in English law.
The programme is completely flexible in study and time requirements so you can commence your SQE preparation all around the year.