What is the SQE?
The SQE will be the new centralised assessment for all aspiring solicitors and will be introduced from September 2021.
This will fundamentally change the route to qualification and follows nine years of review into solicitors training. So how do I qualify?
You will need to:
• Obtain a degree in any subject or equivalent qualification/experience
• Pass the two stages of the SQE assessment
• Gain two years of qualifying work experience which is signed off by a solicitor
• Meet the character and suitability requirements from the SRA
What are the SQE stages and how are they tested?
Stage one of the SQE will test the candidate’s legal knowledge across 13 different areas of law through two assessments of 180 questions, whilst stage two will test your practical legal skills (much like the LPC does currently) through a minimum of 15 assessed tasks.
What counts as qualifying work experience?
Qualifying work experience will constitute any experience where the candidate is providing legal services which involves developing the competencies needed to then practice as a solicitor.
This experience can be obtained either in England and Wales or overseas and must be signed off by a solicitor. You can do this in one block or in stages at up to four different organisations.
• Working as a paralegal
• A placement as part of your law degree
• Law clinic work
• At Citizens Advice or other voluntary/charitable organisations
• Training contract
What if I am already part way through my studies?
There will be transitional arrangements for anyone who by September 2021 is already on their way to becoming a solicitor via the current route.
Those students falling into this category will be able to continue to qualify through the existing route or choose to do the SQE.
Those choosing to take the existing route will have until December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor as long as these routes remain available.
I am a Chartered Legal Executive how does this affect me?
After September 2021 anyone who has not already started, completed or accepted an offer for a law degree, the LPC or training contract will be required to qualify through the SQE route. For the purposes of the SQE route the CILEx Level 6 qualification will count as equivalent to a degree and it is likely that the candidates CILEx work experience will count as qualifying work experience.
Foreign Qualified Lawyers The SQE will replace the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme once it is introduced and so anyone wishing to gain admission in England & Wales will follow this route. If, however, the SRA feels that the candidate holds a professional title (professional qualification) from a jurisdiction they recognise they can give recognition of part or all of the SQE. If recognition is granted, then the candidate will not be required to sit the corresponding components of the SQE assessment.
Finally, so how much will this cost?
The cost of sitting the SQE will be between £3,000 - £4,500 and does not include any additional training the candidate may need.