What is the SQE?
As of September 1st, 2021, the SQE will be the recommended route to qualifying as a solicitor. Previously, it was a requirement to complete a law degree or conversion degree, followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a two-year training contract. Following the introduction of the SQE, law schools will no longer be offering the LPC to students. Instead they will provide training for students to prepare for the two SQE examinations..
The SQE stands for Solicitors Qualifying Examination and is based on a series of assessments that are split into two stages.
SQE1- Legal knowledge and principles:
From SQE1 you can expect to see the following topics of English and Welsh Law being covered:
- Assessment 1 Topics: Business law and practice, dispute resolution, contract, tort, legal system of England and Wales, public law and legal services.
- Assessment 2 topics: Property and law practice, wills and admin of estates, solicitors accounts, land law, trust, criminal law and practice.
You will need to pass x2 180 multiple choice questions and 10 hours’ worth of assessments. Costing around £1,558, sittings for the SQE1 will be available from November 2021.
SQE2- Legal Knowledge and Practical Legal Skills:
In order to sit the SQE2 you MUST have passed SQE1. Here you can expect to complete 12 written and 4 oral tasks in addition to 14 hours’ worth of assessments where a range of legal skills will be tested.
Skills assessed include:
- Client interviewing
- Attendance notes
- Case and matter analysis
- Legal research, writing and drafting
Contexts will be based on:
- Criminal litigation
- Dispute resolution
- Property practice
- Wills and intestacy
- Probate administration and practice
- Business organisation rules and procedures
Costing around £2,422, sittings for the SQE2 will become available from April 2022.
Throughout both SQE’s your ethics will be also tested. You are given 3 attempts per SQE within 6 years of sitting them.
How to apply for the SQE:
To submit onto the SQE course you will require the following:
- A degree in ANY subject (from within the UK or Abroad).
- An apprenticeship or equivalent experience.
Similar to the old system, aspiring solicitors will still need to provide two years’ worth of work experience to qualify. However, the rules for this have been relaxed to a broader list of experiences that can be accepted.
Qualifying work experience includes:
- Any provider of legal services (Must develop core skills and competencies needed to be a solicitor).
- Experience that is signed off by a solicitor.
- 2 years full time or the equivalent.
- Can be from up to 4 different roles you have endured/ 4 different organisations.
- Can be from a degree placement, law clinic, paralegal or training contract.
To match the suitability requirements you must have NO criminal record, record of dishonesty or serious credit of money issues.
You can register for the SQE by visiting the official SQE website.
Where to get preparation support?
As the SQE is purely assessment based, without any training included. You may want to consider prep courses to help you study. Of course these aren’t compulsory but they will enhance your chances of passing. There are both full time and part time SQE study options available and with introductory offers currently in action- now’s the time to book!
A few to consider:here on the SQE official website.
Why choose the SQE over the LPC:
- The SQE test prep courses might be shorter and cheaper than the LPC.
- You will have more available time to gain work experience before test is available.
- It is believed that the SQE will boost diversity in the legal profession, by levelling out the playing field and closing the perennial gap between the number of students sitting the relevant compulsory assessments and available training contract places.
- The SQE provides more flexibility that LPC (LPC has stricter milestones to reach in a specific order.) Whereas the SQE offers a flexible period of work experience as opposed to mandatory training contract.
Overseeing the change, many agree that the new route was indeed necessary. Chambers Student explains how the job of a solicitor has evolved in the last two decades and is forecasted to continue doing so. Highlighting the importance of the training process to adapt alongside it.
Deloitte Legal Partner and Training Principal, Rachel Hossack outlines the key improvements of the new route:
“Trainees are working while studying. They are able to apply the skills that they are learning in the classroom to real-world client situations. This will enhance their learning experience by making what they are learning much more relatable and relevant.”
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