In September 2021, a new route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales was introduced: the Solicitor's Qualifying Exam (SQE).
Dates: SQE assessment windows are published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
What is the SQE?
As a result of the introduction of the SQE, the routes that you can take towards qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales now vary, depending on the current stage of your studies.
Anyone who commenced their Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) via either a LLB law degree or a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or the Graduate Entry LLB (GE LLB) after 31 December 2021 must now follow the new SQE pathway.
The new SQE route no longer requires you to have a qualifying law degree – rather you are to hold a degree or equivalent qualification.
The LPC will no longer be a pre-requisite, with candidates being able to undertake preparatory courses, to prepare them for the SQE assessments, as well as what will be known as Qualifying Work Experience.
There will be 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 so wished.
What does this mean for the LPC?
When the SQE was implemented, the SRA introduced an official transition period for candidates who had already started on the current route, or who had accepted a place on an existing qualifying law degree or conversion law programme.
This only applies to courses that began up to and including 31 December 2021, so long as the student had accepted the offer by 31 August 2021 (inclusive).
The SRA will continue to approve the LPC as a valid route to qualification as a solicitor until 2032. Candidates can still undertake the LPC if providers continue to make it available.
The City Law School is now recruiting for the Solicitors Practice Programme 2023/24 entry.
What will City, University of London provide?
The Solicitors' Practice Programme from The City Law School will prepare you for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) 1 and 2 and for practice as a Solicitor.
This new programme replacing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) has been designed in consultation with leading law firms to offer a relevant and modern course focused on employability.
From September 2023, The City Law School will offer Postgraduate Diploma and LLM pathways for SQE preparation.
See our Solicitors' Practice Programme coursepage for further information.
How will assessment take place under the new SQE route?
The SQE Assessments will be in two parts: SQE1 and SQE2.
- The SQE1 will include two functioning legal knowledge (FLK) assessments, consisting of 180 multiple-choice questions.
- The SQE2 Assessment is divided into two parts: the oral assessment consisting of four oral legal skills assessments, and the 12 written legal skills assessment.
- Candidates must pass SQE1 in its entirety before they can take SQE2.
The SRA appointed Kaplan as the only assessment provider for the SQE. Therefore, Kaplan will not be able to offer any form of training/preparatory course for the SQE. In partnership with Pearson VUE test centres, Kaplan will provide assessment centres for written and computer-based assessments. There will also be a smaller number of centres for oral skills assessments.
Do you have to do the SQE?
If you commenced your LLB or GDL on or before 31 December 2021, then you have the option to take the LPC or SQE.
If you commenced your LLB or GDL after 31 December 2021, you must follow the new SQE pathway to qualification.
The final delivery of LPC at The City Law School commenced in September 2022.
The LLB programme will remain a credible and valuable part of a student’s journey to a career in law and give you the legal skills and knowledge still required by many law firms. In the third year of the LLB, Introduction to the Solicitor's Professional Qualification and Legal Skills are two of the elective modules students can choose to study.
If you're an aspiring solicitor, there is no reason why you should not continue to follow the current LLB path of education and training.
Non-Law graduates undertaking the GDL
The GDL will give you the core legal knowledge that will be valuable in pursuing a career in law. The City GDL still remains a highly renowned programme amongst employers in the legal sector and will help to demonstrate your knowledge of and dedication to law.
If you're an aspiring solicitor, there is no reason why you should not continue to follow the current path of education and training.
Successfully passing the SQE assessments, will require a lot of preparation, so undertaking a course is advisable. A preparatory course will provide you with the knowledge needed to answer the multiple-choice questions, and the legal skills required for the oral and written assessments of SQE2.
For non-law graduates, successful completion of a GDL is a pre-requisite for entry to our Solicitors' Practice Programme.
To be kept informed about developments of The City Law School’s offering for SQE preparation, please follow the below link and complete the short form or view the Postgraduate course page.