Who should take the SQE route?
The SQE is for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales who has not yet embarked on either a qualifying law degree (QLD), GDL or LPC or is already qualified as lawyer in another jurisdiction.
The SQE will be formally launched on 1 September 2021 and will eventually replace the curent LPC route to qualification as a solicitor. This means that if by 1 September 2021 you have not completed, started, accepted an offer of a place or paid a non-refundable deposit for:
• a qualifying law degree (QLD)
• the Common Professional Examination / Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE)
• exempting law degree (ELD)
• the Legal Practice Course
• a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract).
...then you will need to qualify through the SQE.
There is no prescribed route to follow under the SQE, however, to reach the point where you can qualify as a solicitor you must:
• have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or work experience)
• pass both stages of the SQE assessments - SQE1 (legal knowledge) and SQE2 (practical legal skills)
• have two years' qualifying work experience
• pass the SRA character and suitability requirements
The SRA has created infographics to illustrate what the route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales will look like after 1 September 2021, which you might find helpful.
During the transition period, there will be some who are eligible to take either the current GDL/LPC route or the new SQE route to qualification. If you are not sure which route to take, please use our eligibility tracker. You may also find it helpful to read 'Should I choose to qualify under the GDL/LPC or SQE route?' in the FAQs section.
The steps to qualification on the SQE route are set out below.
An UK undergraduate degree (or equivalent) must be held before a candidate completes the qualification route as a solicitor and makes an application to be admitted onto the roll of solicitors.
This criteria can be satisfied in a number of alternative ways, such as:
Exact details of this requirement are set out by the SRA here.
The SQE1 assessment tests candidates on their functioning legal knowledge. It covers the breadth and depth of the law of England and Wales which is currently taught on the Qualifying Law Degree and the Graduate Diploma in Law (both detailed above). The assessment is split into two and includes the following disciplines:
Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services.
Property Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice.
The SQE 1 will take the form of two 5 hour assessments, split over two days (6 1/2 hours each day). Booking for the first assessment, which will take place in November, will be open from July 2021 and close by the end of September 2021. Details of how to book the assessments will be made available as soon as they become available but in the meantime, further information about the assessments can be found here.
The SQE2 assessment is concerned with testing legal skills and draws upon knowledge covered under the SQE1. It is most comparable to the LPC qualification and is more vocationally orientated than the SQE1.
The SQE2 will examine the candidate on client interview and attendance note/legal analysis, advocacy, case and matter analysis, legal research, legal writing, legal drafting, and negotiation in the following practice areas: Criminal Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Property Practice, Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice, Business organisations, rules and procedures.
The SQE2 assessment is approximately 14 hours and taken over five half days. The first SQE 2 assessment is expected to take place in April 2022. Details of how to book will be made available as soon as they become available but in the meantime, further information can be found here.
Qualifying work experience is any experience of providing legal services that offers a candidate the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences needed to practise as a solicitor. Work experience can be obtained in England or Wales or overseas, but it must be signed off by a qualified solicitor:
It can be gained in one block of time or in stages, so long as it is in no more than four organisations. It can be paid or unpaid work and could include:
The aim is offer more flexibility to the candidate than is presently available under the LPC route. The SRA have produced an infographic highlighting its versatility.