Solicitor Qualifying Exam (SQE)

Stephanie Chan
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When will the SQE start?

The SRA have said that the SQE regime will not be introduced until September 2021 at the earliest. As this language suggests, it could be delayed.
However, they’re proposing that anyone who starts their legal education before the SQE is introduced will be allowed to follow their choice of the new or current process, as long as those using the current process complete it by 2032 (to be confirmed).

How will the SQE change the process to become a solicitor?

    1. Undergraduate degree or equivalent
    To become a solicitor, all applicants must either have an undergraduate degree, or equivalent experience, to study at degree level (for example, by completing a degree level apprenticeship). Importantly, a qualifying law degree will no longer have any special meaning for the process, but it should help candidates prepare for some of the SQE assessments. (i.e. you DO NOT NEED a LAW DEGREE)

    2. SQE stage 1
    All applicants will have to sit and pass SQE Stage 1, whatever degree or other qualifications they have already. This means even if you have a law degree there is NO exemption. SQE Stage 1 will mainly assess your legal knowledge through multiple-choice examinations. You must complete SQE stage 1 before progressing to SQE stage 2.

    3. SQE stage 2
    Again, all applicants will have to sit these assessments, regardless of existing qualifications. SQE Stage 2 will assess your legal skills through practical examinations and assessments.

    4. Qualifying work experience
    You’ll need to complete a minimum of two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE), which can be with up to four different legal employers (and could include appropriate pro bono experience). You can do this during, before or after completing your SQE assessments, although we expect that in most cases candidates will have successfully completed at least SQE stage 1 before starting their main period of QWE.

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Course Information

2021 Exam

REGISTRATION CLOSES:
TBC

COURSE STARTS:
TBC

LENGTH:
10 months/ 6 months

PRICE:
TBC

LANGUAGE:
English

GMAT or TOFEL requirements:
No

LOCATION:
Online ONLY (FREE study group)

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Q. Where will I be able to sit SQE?
A: The SQE will be available to sit in England and Wales, as well as some international locations (SQE 1 only). SQE 1 includes three exams that are either multiple choice or written tests. You must sit all three together. This will available to take across a wide geographic area at Pearson VUE centres.
For SQE 2, you will do role plays, as well as written work. There will be a more limited choice of centres for this assessment.

Q. When will SQE start?
A: The SQE will be introduced in autumn 2021 and initially there will be two exam sittings per year. The first sitting for SQE 1 is likely to be in November 2021.

Q. What are the cost?
A: Current estimates are that it will cost between £3,000 – £4,500 to sit the SQE. This breaks down as:

  • SQE 1: £1,100 – £1,650
  • SQE 2: £1,900 – £2,850

These are not finalised yet and the eventual fee may be inside or outside this range. This does not include any additional training you might need.

Q. But what if I have a law degree?
A: The SRA have decided not to allow any exemptions from the SQE (except possibly for some lawyers who are already qualified in other jurisdictions.

Q. What if I fail SQE?
A: You will only be allowed three attempts at the assessment. These have to be taken within six years.

Q. What counts as Qualifying work experience?
A: Qualifying work experience will allow a wider range of experience to count towards qualification. It could include time spent:

  • working as a paralegal
  • on a placement during a law degree
  • in a student law clinic or at the Citizens Advice.

Q. If you are a qualified lawyer how will SQE affect you?
A: The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme assessments will continue to be available for one year after the SQE’s introduction for those lawyers who have successfully completed the multiple choice test. After then, you will need to take the SQE assessments.
After the SQE is introduced, you will need to complete the SQE to qualify.

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