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Transferring qualified lawyers

 

Already qualified in another jurisdiction? Find out how to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales

Qualifying through the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)

If you are a lawyer who is already qualified in an another jurisdiction then you can seek admission as a solicitor of England and Wales through the SQE. 

More detailed information about how to qualify through this route is available in our SQE section.  To summarise, however:

To qualify through the SQE you need:

Exemptions for qualified lawyers

You may already have much of the knowledge and experience that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is aiming to test through the SQE and so provided you can demonstrate that you have the legal knowledge, skills and competences equivalent to those required of a newly admitted English solicitor, you may be able to apply for an exemption from one, or even both, SQE assessments.

The SRA provides an SQE 2 exemption finder tool for overseas lawyers looking to qualify through SQE. Those seeking exemption from SQE 1 are advised to contact the SRA for guidance.

If you are a qualified lawyer from another jurisdiction and you pass both the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, you will not need to undertake qualifying work experience (QWE). If, however, you seek exemptions from SQE1 and/or SQE2, you would need a minimum of 2 years work experience which the SRA would want to consider before admitting you as a solicitor in England and Wales. This could entail the SRA seeking confirmation of your work experience and/or a certificate of good standing from a referee - for example, if your work experience is not a standard part of a qualification that the SRA has already recognised and is being relied on for equivalence.

For qualified lawyers with a non-UK degree wishing to follow the SQE route to qualification, regardless of whether or not you apply for a SQE course, please ensure your overseas degree is equivalent to a UK degree, or that you have equivalent work experience early on in the process, as it is a requirement of the SRA SQE route. You will need to make an application for equivalence via the SRA website.

Further guidance for qualified lawyers is available on the SRA website and you might find the following pages particularly useful:

Qualified Lawyers

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE): approach to qualified lawyers seeking admission as a solicitor of England and Wales

Full information about the SQE assessments, including how to book an assessment, is available on the SRA's dedicated SQE site.

Further information about transition to SQE from the previous route (QLTS) is now available on the SRA website.

What course should I do if I have a non-qualifying UK law degree, or a law degree obtained from outside the UK?

From 1 September 2021, if you want to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, you will need to do so through the SQE.  Please refer to our SQE section for full information about how to qualify through the SQE.

As part of your qualification through the SQE, you need to pass two SQE assessments: SQE 1 and SQE 2. You can decide yourself how you want to prepare for the assessments - there is no prescribed route for doing this, and so you are free to choose a course that suits you, taking into account the studies you have already undertaken as well as the areas of interest you might have. 

The SQE will ask students to demonstrate the knowledge set out in the Statement of Legal Knowledge

  • Knowledge and understanding of the fundamental doctrines and principles which underpin the law of England and Wales particularly in the Foundations of Legal Knowledge (Criminal Law, Equity and Trusts, Law of the European Union, Obligations 1 (Contract), Obligations 2 (Tort), Property/Land Law, Public Law (Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights Law);
  • A basic knowledge of the sources of that law, and how it is made and developed; of the institutions within which that law is administered and the personnel who practice law;
  • The ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide range of legal concepts, values, principles and rules of English law and to explain the relationship between them in a number of particular areas;
  • The intellectual and practical skills needed to research and analyse the law from primary resources on specific matters; and to apply the findings of such work to the solution of legal problems; and
  • The ability to communicate these, both orally and in writing, appropriately to the needs of a variety of audiences.

Visit the SRA website for a more detailed overview of the SQE assessment topics,.

As your law degree is a non-qualifying or non-UK law degree, you might want to consider courses that are specifically tailored to non-law graduates, which will bring you to the same level as a UK qualifying law degree graduate. A GDL/law conversion course is a really good option if you are not yet sure which qualification route you want to take. It will provide you with a thorough grounding in law from which you can go on to undertake additional SQE preparation.

Alternatively, there are SQE courses which are tailored specifically to non-law/non-UK law graduates which will include preparation for the SQE 1 assessment.

Alternatively, you might find that a shorter course covering the areas needed to pass the SQE assessments will suffice, however, it would be worth checking how much your law degree covered in terms of the seven key foundations of law (found in a UK qualifying law degree) and how much ‘topping up’ you need to do to enable you to pass the SQE. You might prefer to combine SQE preparation with a Masters level qualification to build on your academic credentials and take advantage of some of the longer courses being offered.

For detailed information about what is covered in the SQE 1 and SQE 2 assessments, visit the SRA website for:

SQE 1 Assessment Specification

SQE 2 Assessment Specification

When you are choosing a course, keep a close eye on the course outcome as it is really important to understand what the course will provide you with, taking into account your educational background, aspirations for your career in law and what your next steps will need to be once you have completed the course. Some will be SQE assessment ready, some might offer the option of SQE modules while others will not include specific SQE assessment preparation and you will need to undertake some form of additional top-up course before you sit the assessments.

The SRA website contains further guidance for applicants on what to consider when choosing an SQE course.

It’s important to remember also that the SQE assessments are separate from the courses and are managed centrally by Kaplan. Unless your course specifically indicates that the cost of the assessments is included in your course fees, you should factor in the cost of the assessments on top of your course fees.

If you hold a non-UK degree, you will need to provide a UK ENIC Statement of Comparability when you apply to the SRA for admission as a solicitor. The SRA would not require this, however, from a candidate who has a UK LLM at the point at which they apply for admission as a solicitor.

Use our course finder to explore the courses on offer and what stage in your qualification journey they will take you to.  

What course should I do if I am a lawyer qualified in another jurisdiction?

If you are a lawyer who is already qualified in another jurisdiction then you can seek admission as a solicitor of England and Wales via the SQE route.  Please refer to our SQE section for full information about how to qualify through the SQE.

As part of your qualification through the SQE, you need to pass two SQE assessments.  You can decide yourself how you want to prepare for the assessments - there is no prescribed route for doing this, and so you are free to choose a course that suits you.

If you have not previously studied law in the UK, you could consider a GDL/law conversion course, however, as a qualified lawyer you may feel that you have studied law sufficiently, or may even have previously studied law in the UK, in which case an SQE preparation course geared specifically to the SQE assessments may be more suitable for you.  It is worth familiarising yourself with what the two assessments will be testing you on and choose a course which best fits in with the studies you have already undertaken as well as the areas of interest you might have. 

Use our course finder to explore the courses on offer and what stage in your qualification journey they will take you to. 

When you are choosing a course, keep a close eye on the course outcome as it is really important to understand what the course will provide you with, taking into account your educational background and what your next steps will need to be once you have completed the course. Some will be SQE assessment ready, some might offer the option of SQE modules while others will not include specific SQE assessment preparation and you will need to undertake some form of additional top-up course before you sit the assessments.

When it comes to course fees, refer to the relevant course pages of the university websites to help you identify the best option for you based on your needs and the kind of training, opportunities and academic qualification you are looking to gain.  

The SRA website contains further guidance for applicants on what to consider when choosing an SQE course.

It’s important to remember also that the SQE assessments are separate from the courses and are managed centrally by Kaplan. Unless your course specifically indicates that the cost of the assessments is included in your course fees, you should factor in the cost of the assessments on top of your course fees.

If you hold a non-UK degree, you will need to provide a UK ENIC Statement of Comparability when you apply to the SRA for admission as a solicitor. The SRA would not require this, however, from a candidate who has a UK LLM at the point at which they apply for admission as a solicitor. 

Alternatively, as a qualified lawyer you may already have much of the knowledge and experience that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is aiming to test through the SQE.  If you can demonstrate that you have the legal knowledge, skills and competences equivalent to those required of a newly admitted English solicitor, you may be able to apply for an exemption from one, or even both, of the SQE assessments. Further guidance for qualified lawyers is available from the SRA.

In addition, as a qualified lawyer from another jurisdiction, you are not required to do Qualifying Work Experience (QWE), as the SRA will recognise your existing qualification and experience.

If, however, you seek exemptions from SQE1 and/or SQE2, you would need a minimum of 2 years work experience which the SRA would want to consider before admitting you as a solicitor in England and Wales. This could entail the SRA seeking confirmation of your work experience and/or a certificate of good standing from a referee - for example, if your work experience is not a standard part of a qualification that the SRA has already recognised and is being relied on for equivalence.

If, as a qualified lawyer, you are granted an exemption from SQE2, the SRA may require you to demonstrate your English or Welsh language competence.

A lawyer who is qualified outside of the UK and has been practising for three years or more and wishes to qualify as a barrister in the UK should contact the Bar Standards Board.

How do I apply for a course on LawCAB?

If you have not done so already, please 'sign up' to LawCAB. 

Once you have submitted your details in the sign up section (top right of LawCAB homepage) please keep an eye on your inbox for the email verification link.  If it doesn’t arrive, it would be worth checking your promotions folder, or junk/spam folders in case it has got stuck there. (Those with gmail accounts sometimes find that the email goes to their promotions folder.)  Please also make sure that you are using the most up to date version of your internet browser.

After you have clicked on the link to confirm your email address, you will be able to login where you will then be able to view your applicant dashboard from which you can create an online application form, depending on which course type you want to apply for.

Please use the link below for full details of the application process for:

LPC, GDL & SQE courses

CILEX Graduate Qualification (CGQ)

If you have any further questions about the application process, please get in touch with us at applications@lawcabs.ac.uk.

Do I need to get my non-UK degree verified by UK ENIC before I apply?

International applicants do not need to have their grades verified by UK ENIC for the LawCAB application, however, some institutions will ask applicants with overseas degrees to have their qualifications verified by UK ENIC as a condition of any offers made to ensure their studies are equivalent to a UK degree. If you are applying with a non-UK law degree, you should include in your application any transcripts/certificates you have.  If these are not in English, you will also need to provide an officially certified translation.  The institutions will then let you know further on in the application process if and when they require verification by UK ENIC. (Please note that LawCAB does not verify international degrees.)

For applicants with a non-UK degree wishing to follow the SQE route to qualification, regardless of whether or not you apply for a SQE course, you will need to show that your degree is equivalent to a UK degree/equivalent qualification through a UK ENIC Statement of Comparability as part of the application process to the SRA for admission as a solicitor. For further information about degree requirements for the SQE route, please refer to the SRA website which also explains how to apply for degree equivalence.

Do I need a certificate of academic standing if I have a non-UK degree?

If your degree was gained outside of England and Wales and you wish to apply for a law conversion/GDL with the intention of going on to qualify as a solicitor, a certificate of academic standing is not required but please ensure that you attach to your form a copy of your degree including transcript(s).

If your degree was gained outside of England and Wales and you wish to apply for a law conversion/GDL with the intention of going on to qualify as a barrister, you are advised to apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB) before beginning a law conversion/GDL course. (You do not need a Certificate of Academic Standing to make your course application through LawCAB.)

Do I need to pass an English language test if I am not from the UK?

An English language test certificate is not required by LawCAB as part of the application process. If required, the institutions themselves will make sitting the examination part of any conditional offers made. If you already have a certificate, this should be attached to the LawCAB application form.

Please contact the institutions you want to apply to for further information on their English language requirements.  A list of the course providers, with contact details can be found in Where can I study?  We also provide links to relevant web pages in our course finder section, some of which will include IELTs requirements.  

Do I need a student visa before I apply and how do I obtain a student visa?

To apply for a student visa, you must already have an offer of a place from an institution. Please liaise directly with the institution you have applied to regarding a student visa, once your form has been released to them.

Apply as early as possible to ensure there is sufficient time to deal with your visa requirements.

If you require a visa, you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) form/letter from your chosen institution, issued to you after you have accepted an offer of a place to study with the university, as part of your visa application. The institutions will have strict deadlines for issuing CAS letters, so you must ensure that you accept your offer and adhere to CAS deadlines within the timeframes given by the institutions.

Applicants will find further information on visas at the UK government website.  

Read more about the Graduate Visa route.

You may also find the information on the British Council website helpful, particularly the guidance on post-study work opportunities and visas.