In the ever-evolving field of law, the qualifications required to become a solicitor are constantly adapting to meet the demands of the legal profession. One significant recent development in the United Kingdom is the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in September 2021. The SQE has been introduced to take down the barriers of entry to make a career more accessible. To ensure that all new solicitors are assessed to the same standard the SQE has effectively replaced the GDL and LPC. Carry on reading to understand what an SQE is and why it matters in the legal world.

What is a SQE?

The SQE is a set of assessments introduced by Solicitor Regulation Authority in England and Wales as a new route to qualify as a solicitor. It is a move from: “a system where we prescribe the pathways to qualification….to one in which we set out day one skills, knowledge and attributes that a new solicitor must possess and permit much greater flexibility as to how these competences are acquired”. There are two stages. SQE1 and SQE2.

  • The SQE1 is a multiple-choice and written assessment that tests candidates on their knowledge of various legal topics. Including professional ethics, business law and dispute resolution. It includes 180 multiple choice questions, and on average takes 5 to 6 months to complete. The SQE has proven to be rather difficult with a success rate of 53% in July 2023 however the success rate is gradually rising.
  • The SQE2 focuses more on the practical element of law like client interviewing, legal research, advocacy, and drafting. It is designed to assess an individual’s ability to apply legal knowledge to the real world.

Why is it important?

The SQE creates a standardised assessment process for all aspiring solicitors. This ensures that they meet the same minimum competency standards regardless of their educational background. This helps maintain consistency within the profession. The SQE is also designed to be a lot more accessible and affordable compared to the other route into law like the LPC and GDL. The LPC costs between £12,000-£17,000, while the GDL can cost between £7,000-£13,000, depending on where in the country you study. If you need to complete both courses, as is the case if you don’t have a qualifying law degree, you’ll be paying up to £30,000. The SQE is much cheaper in comparison to this.

Law firms will cover the cost of the SQE if you have a training contract or apprenticeship. Adding to this the SQE also allows candidate to study how and when they wish using various training providers. They are able to take assessments when they feel ready which may lead to earlier career opportunities and greater flexibility. Candidates will also fee less pressured entering the real world as the SQE helps prepare them for the demands of legal practice. In order to pass the SQE individuals must be not only knowledgeable about law but also able to apply it to legal scenarios.

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination is a significant development in the legal profession in England and Wales. It aims to make the path to becoming a solicitor more accessible, transparent, and standardised. By replacing the traditional LPC and GDL routes, the SQE places a stronger focus on practical legal skills. It also ensures that all aspiring solicitors meet consistent competency standards. The SQE has helped change and develop the future of legal education.

Attwells offer Paralegal positions and for the right candidate. This can include a SQE apprenticeship so you can qualify at Attwells. Keep an eye on our current vacancy page for Paralegal positions.