Qualify as an English Solicitor

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The SQE

What is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new assessment that everyone has to take and pass in order to become a Solicitor in England & Wales. It came into force in September 2021 and replaces the former routes to becoming a solicitor such as the QLTS for foreign attorneys and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for domestic candidates.

The exam consists of two parts: SQE1 is a Multiple Choice assessment focusing on the understanding and knowledge of legal practice areas, and SQE2 assesses practical legal skills via oral and written assessments.

The QLTS is the foundation for the SQE

SQE-QLTS Pyramid

The SQE is substantially modelled on the QLTS, with some small additions. The FLK (Functioning Legal Knowledge) has been expanded for the SQE1 and a few skills and topics have been added to the SQE2 – around 10-15% of additional material beyond the OSCE syllabus.

As the exams are so much alike, so is the preparation

Our OSCE+ course, which lays a strong foundation for the new exam, is being revamped and made "SQE2 safe" – with detailed SQE2 transition materials and dedicated SQE2 Live Classes added to the training curriculum for apt delegates. Being one of the first training providers to prepare lawyers for the QLTS exams, we have the expertise and methodology to prepare you for success in the new route.

SQE FAQ

SQE1 – Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK)

The SQE1 consists of two FLK assessments which are assessed with Multiple Choice Questions over a period of 2 days (approx. 10 hours in total) and include the following subject areas:

FLK1 – Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort, Legal System of England and Wales, Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services

FLK2 – Property Practice, Wills and the Administration of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal Law and Practice

You will not pass SQE1 if you fail either FLK1 or FLK2; both must be passed before being able to proceed to the SQE2. You must demonstrate to the SRA/Kaplan that you are able to apply fundamental legal principles to the presented fact patterns and find the single best answer out of five given alternatives.

SQE2 – Practical Legal Skills Assessment

The SQE2 involves a combination of written & oral based tasks and tests the following six skills: Interviewing and Attendance note/Legal Analysis, Advocacy, Case and Matter Analysis, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Legal Drafting.

These legal skills are assessed in the following five practice areas:

  • Criminal Litigation
  • Business Law (incl. Money Laundering & Financial)
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property Practice
  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice

It is taken over a period of 5 days and the two parts must be taken during the same sitting. There is one single pass mark for the SQE2, oral and written.

Ethics and Professional Conduct are assessed throughout both the SQE1 & SQE2 assessments.

To qualify under the SQE you will need to meet all of the following conditions:

  • Have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or work experience)
  • Pass both stages of the SQE assessment
  • Have two years' QWE (Qualifying Work Experience)
  • Pass both stages of the SQE assessment

To find out more about your eligibility and/or to address any open questions, please contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) directly.

The next SQE2 assessment will take place in April 2024 (SRA), and bookings are now open (SRA). Each assessment (SQE1/SQE2) is offered 2-3 times per academic year. You can only book and sit SQE2 after passing SQE1 or if you have been granted an exemption by the SRA for the whole of the SQE1.

Kaplan SQE has partnered with Pearson VUE to provide an international network of test centres. The SQE1 & SQE2 written assessments are held in London, at other locations in the UK and in various international locations. See the SRA's Dates and Locations page for the full list. The SQE2 oral assessment will be available in Cardiff, London and Manchester, with even more locations to choose from in the future.

You have two options: If you have passed the MCT before 1 September 2021, you can take the last OSCE exam in March/April 2022 and apply for admission by 31 August 2022. Alternatively, you have to take and pass the SQE2 to complete your qualification by 31 August 2023. (After that, you will have to start all over with the SQE1, so we encourage everyone to book their seats early to secure a spot!)

We have built the SQE2 training on top of our already existing, success-proven OSCE+ course (as the exams are extremely similar). Throughout the course we've highlighted exactly what has been changed and added, so you can pay special attention to these exact parts and master the new SQE2-specific content that will likely be tested in the early administrations. We will also have dedicated SQE2 Live Classes, covering all aspects of the exam with a focus on these new areas, so you are optimally prepared with plenty of practical exercises.

QWE

The SQE requires solicitors to complete at least 2 years of full time Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). Whilst a training contract usually involves two years of work-based training in a single law firm, the QWE can be obtained at up to four organisations, in a maximum of four periods. The intention behind this is to give you greater flexibility and a wider range of options to develop the required skills to practice as a solicitor.

You can still undertake two full years with a single law firm, but you could also potentially count your time spent working in a student law clinic or a placement during your law degree, volunteering in a legal advice centre or working as a paralegal. You can also use experience from a previous job or role.

Any QWE will have to be signed off in accordance with the SRA's requirements, usually by the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) or a qualified solicitor at your respective firm, who will also be required to obtain and review feedback on your work. A nominated solicitor from outside the organisation with direct knowledge of your work could also fulfil this role. The solicitor does not need to hold a practising certificate.

There's no set requirement and you have a lot of flexibility here. You can do your Qualifying Work Experience during, before or after taking the SQE assessments. However, you must have completed your QWE before you apply for admission to the roll of solicitors, and you must formally register your QWE with the SRA.

Yes! Only graduate students who are not yet qualified lawyers in another jurisdiction will need to fulfil the QWE requirement. This means that foreign qualified lawyers do NOT need to complete Qualifying Work Experience, as the SRA will recognise their existing qualification and experience. Further details about QWE exemptions for foreign solicitors can be found on the SRA page .

Benefits of Becoming a Solicitor

Where will I be able to practice law?

Passing the SQE not only licenses you as a solicitor in England and Wales, but also may confer a right to practice in many other jurisdictions including:

Alberta Isle of Man Saskatchewan
Anguilla Israel Singapore
Antigua and Barbuda Jamaica South Africa
Bahamas Malaysia South Australia
Barbados Manitoba St. Lucia
Belize Montserrat St. Kitts and Nevis
Bermuda Newfoundland St. Vincent and the Grenadines
British Columbia New South Wales Tasmania
British Virgin Islands New Zealand Trinidad and Tobago
Cayman Islands Northern Territory Turks and Caicos
Dominica North West Territory Victoria
Grenada Nova Scotia Western Australia
Guyana Ontario Yukon Territory
Hong Kong Papua New Guinea Zambia
India Prince Edward Island

Note: In some instances, further academic and/or practical legal training may be required. Minimum periods of residency may also apply.

Qualify as a Solicitor and have the skills and credentials to work in 48 countries and 6 continents.

Why sitting for another bar exam makes sense:
  1. While the information is still 'fresh', parlay your recent bar prep knowledge/experience to earn an international license.
  2. Set your CV apart by adding this distinguished qualification to your list of accomplishments.
  3. Instantly, gain the credentials for employment in 48 countries.
  4. Leverage your dual-qualified status to secure positions with firms engaged in transnational commerce. (ie. Financial services, Intl. Arbitration, Aviation, Oil & Gas, Insurance and Assurance houses, Intl. trade divisions of large accountancy firms)
  5. Add a little 'class' to your professional title:

    [ Your Name Here ],
    Solicitor of England & Wales.

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