A new route to qualifying as a solicitor of England and Wales was introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA): The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
Check out our FAQs for details of the SQE and the preparation course offered by The City Law School: the Solicitors' Practice Programme
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.
If I want to be a Solicitor, do I have to do the SQE?
The SQE is being introduced gradually, and so there are transitional arrangements. If you had accepted an offer by 21 September 2021 to start a Qualifying Law Degree, or by 31 December 2021 to start the Graduate Diploma in Law (or you 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 choose to take the traditional LPC route in September 2022, while the SQE becomes more established.
If you have not yet started an LLB or GDL, 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 in the academic year 2022/23, but this will be that last year that we offer the LPC.
For 2023/24, we will be launching our new Solicitors' Practice Programme, which is designed to prepare students for the SQE as well as for a career as a solicitor.
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?
From September 2023, The City Law School will offer a one-year full-time programme, the Solicitors' Practice Programme.
This programme has two exit points: a Postgraduate Diploma (comprising modules preparing students for the knowledge and skills required for SQE1 and SQE2) and a Master of Law degree (with additional elective modules focussed on developing wider knowledge and skills relevant to practice and employability, and a legal practice research project).
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’s Solicitors' Practice Programme.
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’s Solicitors' Practice Programme will prepare you to take the tests, but the tests themselves are not part of the programme.
How will The City Law School’s Solicitors' Practice Programme help me to prepare for the SQE?
If you are on the PGDip route, you will study SQE1 subjects in term one (ten weeks) and SQE2 subjects in term 2 (also ten weeks).
Professional Legal Knowledge 1: Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort ELS, Con & Ad, EU Law, Legal Services (30 credits)
Professional Legal Knowledge 2: Property Practice, Wills & Admin of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal Law and Practice (30 credits)
Interpersonal Professional Skills: Advocacy & Client Interviewing (15 credits)
Analytical Professional Skills: Case Analysis, Legal Analysis & Research (15 credits)
Written Professional Skills: Legal Writing & Drafting (15 credits)
Preparation for Practice: Professional competence, Professional Conduct and Ethics, Financial services and money laundering (15 credits)
If you are on the LLM route, in addition to these modules you will:
- Study two elective modules (15 credits each)
- Complete a legal practice research project (30 credits).
The electives we will offer in the first year of the Solicitors' Practice Programme are:
- Advanced Litigation
- Advanced Commercial Property
- Commercial Law & Intellectual Property
- Employment Law
- Family Law
- Mergers and Acquisitions
Will I be assessed at The City Law School?
Yes, in order to receive a City, University of London award, you will have to pass the assessments in the modules that comprise our Solicitors' Practice Programme.
You do not need to pass the SRA’s 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 SQE1 and SQE2 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.
To qualify as a Solicitor, you will have to pass both SQE1 and SQE2 assessments that are conducted on behalf of the SRA.
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 SQE, which has to be paid to the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, is currently £1,622 for SQE1 and £2,493 for SQE2. This fee is to take the exams only and does not include any preparation or training.
The tuition fees for The City Law School’s Solicitors' Practice Programme are: £11,500 for the PGD route and £16,500 for the LLM route. (If you have already completed a course at City, University of London, you will be eligible for a 10% loyalty discount).
Students on the LLM route are eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Student Loan.