The New SQE Route to Qualify as a Solicitor

Until September 2021, if a person wanted to qualify as a solicitor, he had to take the Training Contract route.

On an academic level, you needed to

  • Have a Qualifying Law Degree or an Exempting Law Degree
  • Take the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or
  • Get through an integrated course.

In the vocational stage, you needed to get through the Legal Practice Course, the Professional Skills Course and undergo training with an authorized training provider.

Finally, you had to meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.

Starting from 1st September 2021, individuals need to take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) to qualify as a solicitor. The SQE route replaces the Training Contract route.

The SQE Route

Under the new route, you must first have a Level 6 UK Degree on any subject from a recognized degree-awarding body or any other qualification that is equivalent to a degree. For example, a solicitor apprenticeship is equivalent to a Level 6 UK Degree.

You can even have an overseas degree. However, such a degree must be considered equivalent to a UK Degree though a UK ENIC Statement of Comparability.

Candidates are required to pass two SQE Assessments – SQE1 and SQE2.

SQE1 will test your knowledge on legal subjects. It has two exams covering subjects like business law, dispute resolution, legal system of England and Wales, property law, wills and administration of estate, criminal law and so on.

SQE2 will test your practical skills. It has written and oral assessments which test your skills in client interview, legal analysis, advocacy, case analysis, legal research, legal drafting, negotiation and so on.

Please note that you must pass the SQE1 assessment before you book for SQE2.

Candidates also need to have two years of full-time qualifying work experience.

Unlike the Training Contract route, the work experience need not come as part of training from an authorized training provider. It could come from working at a law centre, doing paralegal work or something else. However, the requirement is that the nature of work must have given the candidate an opportunity to develop the skills and competence needed to become a solicitor.

If the organization you worked for has a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), your work experience must be signed by him. If it does not have a COLP, then it must be signed by a solicitor regulated by SRA.

The COLP or the solicitor must confirm the following

  • The nature of work had given you an opportunity to develop most of the skills needed to become a solicitor
  • There are no issues that raise questions about your character and suitability as a solicitor.

Note: If you have worked in different organisations, different parts of the work experience can be signed by different solicitors. Even a solicitor outside the organisation can sign if he or she is familiar with your work.

Finally, just like the Training Contract route, you must meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements. For the character and suitability assessment, you must fill and submit the SRA’s Character and Suitability Assessment Form.

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