In September 2021, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam was first introduced. It is a different route to becoming a lawyer and should make the legal sector more accessible.
The traditional route would consist of:
SQE stands for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. It will eventually replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) but rather than being a full course, it is a set of examinations taken in two stages. To receive the SQE, you must have a degree or equivalent qualification and pass both stages of the SQE. You will also need to have completed two years of work experience and meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
Whilst it doesn’t specify that the degree must be in law, for practicalities sake, it would be best if it were. The SQE will take law graduates five to six years to become qualified and apprentices and non-law graduates five to seven years.
The SQE will standardise all qualified lawyers. This will ensure high quality and consistency and will help to remove beliefs that any one route to the legal sector is better than another. It will also make it more accessible as it will cost £3,980 in total (less than the LPC and GDL.)
The SQE is in two stages; SQE1 and SQE2 will be assessed on a pass-fail basis.
SQE1 will be taken after a degree and is made up of 180 multiple choice questions each, based on functioning legal knowledge.
The exams will cover:
SQE2 tests practical legal skills. It is an assessment over 5 days with 16 practical exercises, both written and oral. Ethics and conduct are also assessed. These exams will cover:
In terms of resits, individuals will only be allowed three attempts and the assessments must be taken within 6 years.
The SRA expect a long transition period to the new SQE scheme. Because of this, anyone starting a law degree or LPC before September 2021 will have 11 years (until 2032) to complete the traditional route. However, individuals are allowed to switch to the SQE. If you started studying law after September 2021, the LPC is no longer a qualifying route and you will have to take the SQE as the old route is no longer an option.
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