Use the eligibility checker to quickly determine which route(s) is for you
With the launch of a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in autumn 2021, we are entering a transitional period where there will be two valid routes to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales: the LPC route and the SQE route.
From 1 September 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is introducing a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) which is a completely new path to qualification as a solicitor. Importantly, this new route offers a much more flexible journey than the LPC route allows.
If you are a new applicant who has not applied for and deferred, enrolled on or completed a QLD, GDL/CPE by 31 December 2021, you will have to qualify under the new SQE route.
Under the SQE, anyone wanting to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, including those qualified as lawyers in other jurisdictions, will need to:
• have a degree in any subject or equivalent qualification or work experience
• pass both stages of the SQE assessment - SQE1 (legal knowledge) and SQE2 (practical legal skills)
• have two years' qualifying work experience
• pass the SRA character and suitability requirements
It will be up to you to determine what you need to do to achieve the four requirements set out above, and in what order you do them, however, you will need to have completed SQE1 before you can take the SQE2 assessment. The guidance from the SRA also suggests that the SQE2 assessment will be more straightforward for those candidates who have accumulated at least some practical experience.
It will be completely up to you how you choose to prepare for the SQE assessments. You could opt for self-study, online courses, university courses which are eligible for government funding or take stand-alone SQE specific preparation courses. You will, however, have to demonstrate through the SQE assessments that you have mastered the knowledge and competence expected of a newly qualified solicitor.
A major difference from the LPC route is that the SQE route separates the SQE exam itself from the SQE preparatory courses/programmes. The SQE1 and SQE2 examinations are centrally administered by Kaplan, whereas LawCAB hosts courses and programmes which will prepare you to sit these examinations.
For further information about the SQE route to qualification, see our SQE section.
Up until now anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales has had to follow the LPC route, which comprised two stages:
Stage 1: Academic Stage - qualifying law degree (QLD) or law conversion course (CPE/GDL)
Stage 2: Vocational Stage - Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Period of Recognised Training (or Training Contract)
So who is eligible to qualify through the LPC route?
The LPC route will remain valid until 2032 for those who have already started their journey to qualification in 2021.
This means that if before 1 September 2021, you have completed, started, accepted an offer of a place or paid a non-refundable deposit for:
• a qualifying law degree (QLD)
• the Common Professional Examination (CPE) / Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
• exempting law degree (ELD)
• the Legal Practice Course
• a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract).
then you will be able to continue to qualify under the traditional route. If you have not already started on this route, your course must start on or before 31 December 2021.
If you have a law degree you should check whether or not it is a recognised qualifying law degree (QLD) which requires you to have covered certain core subjects.
Those of you eligible to take the LPC route to qualification may also choose the SQE route if you wish.
If funding your training is a concern, you may also wish to consider an apprenticeship where your employer will cover the cost of any courses and assessments whilst paying you a salary, so you can earn while you learn.
We also have additional guidance on how to fund your studies.