In autumn 2021, a new route to qualifying as a solicitor of England and Wales will be introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA): The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
Dates: The first assessment for the SQE1 will be offered from November 2021
What is the SQE?
The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is a new way to qualify as a solicitor, introduced in autumn 2021 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
It replaces the Legal Practice Course (LPC), subject to transitional provisions.
Do I have to do the SQE?
The SQE is being introduced gradually, and so there are transitional arrangements.
If you accepted an offer by 21 September 2021 to start a Qualifying Law Degree or the Graduate Diploma in Law by 31 December 2021 (or already have a law degree or GDL), you have the choice to do either the LPC or the SQE.
It is anticipated that many students will initially choose to take the traditional LPC route until the SQE becomes more established.
If you have not yet started a GDL/LLB you will have to take the SQE in order to qualify as a Solicitor.
Will The City Law School continue to run the LPC course?
The City Law School will still be offering the LPC for the academic year 2022/23.
What qualifications do I need before I can do the SQE?
Under the rules laid down by the SRA, you must have a degree (or equivalent).
It does not have to be a law degree (and non-law graduates are not required to have a GDL).
However, firms of solicitors are likely to favour candidates with a law degree or GDL, and our advice would be to obtain a law degree (or for non-law graduates a GDL) before embarking on the SQE.
For this reason, having a law degree or GDL will be an entry requirement for The City Law School SQE support programme.
What do I have to do to study for the SQE?
The SRA does not prescribe any course of study to prepare for the SQE and it does not regulate the provision of such training.
However, it is expected that candidates will normally undertake a course to help them prepare for the SQE assessments.
What is The City Law School planning to offer for SQE preparation courses?
Our plans for an SQE preparation programme are still going through the University’s approval process.
The City Law School plans to offer (from September 2023) a one-year programme, with two exit points:
- a Postgraduate Diploma (comprising modules preparing students for the knowledge and skills required for SQE1 and SQE2)
- a Master of Law degree (with additional modules focussed on developing wider knowledge and skills relevant to practice, and employability).
Details (including tuition fees) will be published in Spring 2022.
How will I be assessed in the SQE?
The SQE Assessments are in two parts: SQE1 and SQE2.
These are centrally set and assessed for all candidates, through processes overseen by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
They cannot be taken in any other way.
- The SQE1 focuses on ‘Functioning Legal Knowledge’ (FLK). The assessment is divided into two blocks, each of which much be passed (FLK1: Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law; and Legal Services; and FLK2: Property Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice). It is assessed by ‘single best answer’ multiple choice questions.
- The SQE2 focuses on practical legal skills and knowledge. It assesses six skills: Client interview and attendance note/legal analysis; Advocacy; Case and matter analysis; Legal research; Legal writing; Legal drafting. The assessment involves a combination of written and oral based tasks. Ethics and professional conduct are assessed throughout.
- Candidates must pass SQE1 in its entirety before they can take SQE2.
- The City Law School programme will prepare you to take the tests, but the tests themselves are not part of the programme.
Will I have to do other assessments as well as the SQE exams to obtain a City, University of London award?
In order to receive a City, University of London award, you will have to pass the assessments in the modules that comprise our preparation programme.
You do not need to pass the SQE 1 &2 assessments in order to obtain the City award.
The City assessments will be designed to help ensure that you have sufficient knowledge and understanding and skills to pass your SQE 1 and 2 assessments, while also helping to ensure you have the skills you will need for your future career.
However, to qualify as a Solicitor, you will have to pass both SQE assessments that are conducted on behalf of the SRA.
Passing the City assessments is not a requirement for qualifying as a Solicitor but will mean that you will have a recognised Postgraduate qualification demonstrating a range of skills and knowledge that will enhance your employability.
What else do I have to do to qualify as a Solicitor?
As well as passing both SQE assessments, you will need to complete at least two years’ full-time (or equivalent) Qualifying Work Experience (QWE): experience of providing legal services that offers the opportunity to develop some or all of the competencies needed to practice as a Solicitor.
This can be done through a traditional training contract with a firm of solicitors, or in other ways such as working in a legal advice centre or as a paralegal.
The QWE can be achieved in one block or in stages (up to a maximum of four organisations).
There are no requirements about when to undertake QWE: you can do it before, during or after taking your SQE assessments.
There is no set order in which to qualify, meaning that you have the flexibility to undertake your work experience even before undertaking the actual SQE assessments if you wish.
You also have to meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
Will The City Law School continue to run the Law conversion courses (GDL/GE LLB)?
Yes, the GDL (or another conversion course) remains essential to becoming a Barrister if you do not have a Law degree.
If you intend to become a solicitor, you do not necessarily need to do a conversion course if you do not have a Law degree, but you are recommended to do so in order to enhance your employability.
Is the SQE relevant to becoming a Barrister?
No, to become a barrister you must first complete the academic stage of training (either a qualifying law degree or a non-law degree plus a GDL).
You are then required to complete the vocational stage of training for the Bar.
The City Law School is an authorised provider of the vocational stage of training.
For further details see our Bar Vocational Studies programme pages.
How much does the SQE cost?
The total candidate fee for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is currently £3,980.
This fee is to take the exams only and does not include any preparation or training.
The tuition fees for the SQE preparation programme offered by The City Law School will be published in Spring 2022.