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Already qualified in another jurisdiction?

 

Find out how to qualify 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. 

To qualify through the SQE you need:

You may already have much of the knowledge and experience that the Solicitors Regulation Authority 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.

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 SQA 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. 

If you are looking for a solid academic background in law to add to your CV and have not previously studied law in the UK, you could consider a GDL/law conversion course.  These courses are suitable for both aspiring solicitors and barristers and so also work really well if you are not yet sure which qualification route you want to take. A GDL/law conversion will provide you with a thorough grounding in law from which you can go on to undertake additional SQE preparation if you want to be a solicitor or a Bar Training Course if you want to be a barrister.  

There are also SQE courses on offer for aspiring solicitors which are tailored to non-law graduates and will enable you to sit SQE 1 and/or SQE 2 without the need for further preparation.

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.

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.  Some courses may offer you the chance to work in a law-clinic and others may offer qualifying work experience placements.  These are all factors to consider when you are comparing course fees and making your choices.

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.  

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?

Read about our application process for full details on how to make your application.

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. 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 should apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Bar Standards Board (BSB) before beginning a law conversion/GDL course.

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.  

For information about the Graduate Visa, please click here

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