Qualify as an English Solicitor

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Two routes to qualification

There are currently two different routes to qualifying as a Solicitor in England & Wales: The QLTS (Qualified Lawyers' Transfer Scheme) is a transfer exam for foreign lawyers who want to practice in England and related jurisdictions, and the SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) is a new assessment that everyone will have to take to become an English Solicitor going forward.

Kaplan QLTS is the sole authorized assessment provider for both the QLTS and SQE, appointed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) , the regulatory body of the Law Society of England & Wales.

Below you can find details about both assessments, their similarities and differences, important enrollment dates, and all about the transition period we are currently in. Regardless of which route you choose to take depending on your circumstances, we have in-depth training courses available to prepare you for both the OSCE & SQE2.

The QLTS

The Qualified Lawyers' Transfer Scheme (QLTS) is a fast-track route for lawyers from other recognized jurisdictions (SRA) and barristers from England & Wales to qualify as English Solicitors. Passing the QLTS opens up a whole new world of job opportunities, as it not only licenses you as a solicitor in England and Wales, but also confers a right to practice in many other countries.

The QLTS assessment consists of two parts, a Multiple Choice Test (MCT) (Kaplan) and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) . Candidates must pass the MCT before enrolling for the OSCE, and both assessments must be passed to qualify as a Solicitor.

Part I – Multiple Choice Test (MCT)

The Multiple Choice Test (MCT) consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. The questions test your knowledge and understanding of Part A of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Day One Outcomes (SRA) (Professional Conduct, Solicitors' Accounts, Financial Regulation, Property Law, Business Law, Tort, Contract, Constitutional Law, the English Legal System, Equity and Trust, Human Rights and EU Law).

The detailed subject matter outlines of the content of Part A Day One Outcomes have been provided to us, so QLTS Advantage has designed a course which focuses on the teaching of the "fundamental legal principles" that "will be tested on the MCT."

The MCT is divided into two sessions, morning and afternoon, 2 hours 45 minutes each. Following each exam, the SRA convenes a "Standard Setting Panel" to determine the overall pass rate for that assessment. For further details, see the Marking and Moderation Policy (Kaplan).

Organization and Administration

The MCT is delivered by computer-based assessment through a network of test centers administered by Pearson VUE. Candidates have a choice of locations during the booking process including: London and other UK cities, New York, Singapore, Dubai, India, Johannesburg, several locations throughout Europe...)

Candidates are assessed on the law in force at the time of the assessment.

MCT Exam Dates and Enrollment Deadlines (Kaplan)

The July 2021 MCT exam was the last one, so if you have not yet taken and passed it, you will now have to continue on the SQE route and start by taking the SQE1 (which replaced the MCT).

Part II – Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

The OSCE forms the practical aspect of the QLTS assessments. Delegates are examined on Outcomes C, D and F of the SRA's Day One Outcomes (SRA). (Part C covers: Transactional and Dispute Resolution skills; Part D covers: Legal, Professional and Client relationship knowledge and skills; and F covers: Professional Values, Behaviors, Attitudes and Ethics.)

The OSCE is divided into two parts (OSCE 1 and OSCE 2), with candidates required to demonstrate specific skills within the context of three practice areas:

  • Business
  • Property and Probate
  • Civil and Criminal Litigation
Upcoming OSCE Exam Dates and Enrollment Deadlines (Kaplan)

Bookings for the April 2022 OSCE sitting opened at 10:00 UK Time on 29 November 2021, and the Booking Deadline will be 17:00 UK Time on 7 February 2022.

Candidates are advised to book their assessment as early as possible and should note that all assessment places may be filled some time before the booking deadline.

Please see the SRA website for details on the transitional arrangements to the SQE.

OSCE 1 Assessment

OSCE Part 1 tests your Interviewing and Advocacy/Oral Presentation skills.

Client interview: The skills are assessed through simulated legal environments called 'Stations'. Actors play the role of clients, and, for example, may ask delegates for advice on removing a director from their business; how to minimize their tax liability on a transfer of property, to review their will and advise on tax implications... Clearly the possible scenarios are vast!!!

From Kaplan :

Preparation (10 minutes)

Candidates are given an email from a partner or a secretary indicating who the client is and something about what the client has come to discuss. The email may, but will not necessarily, be accompanied by documents.

The email also gives guidance on whether candidates should deal with client care, funding or money laundering issues in the interview and subsequent attendance note/case analysis. If the email tells candidates not to deal with these issues then there is no need to do so. The email may also indicate specific legal issues which candidates should have particular regard to in the interview and the subsequent attendance note/case analysis.

Candidates can make notes during the preparation.

Interview (25 minutes)

The client is already present in the room and the interview commences when the candidate enters the room. The client may, but will not necessarily, bring documents with them. During the interview candidates are able to refer to the notes made during preparation and to make additional notes.

Candidates should have 2 main objectives during the interview: First, to win the client's trust and confidence and to ensure that the client wishes to instruct or continue to instruct their firm. Secondly, candidates should try to obtain all the relevant information and as full an understanding as possible of the client's concerns. Candidates need not provide detailed advice at this stage. They can conduct the interview on the basis that they will be advising the client in detail at a later date. However, candidates do need to give enough preliminary advice and to address enough of the client's concerns to establish the client's trust and confidence.

At the end of 25 minutes if the candidate has not already brought the interview to a close, the client will do so.

Candidates have 25 minutes to write by hand an attendance note/case analysis of the interview they have just completed. They can consult the notes they made earlier.

All relevant information obtained during the interview should be recorded in the attendance note/case analysis. If candidates choose to they can do this by incorporating the notes made earlier where appropriate. Documents which the client has given the candidate should be attached to the attendance note. Candidates should provide an analysis of any legal issues that arise in the matter and record their initial advice for the client. The attendance note/case analysis should also identify the next steps to be taken by the solicitor and, where applicable, the client. Also record in the attendance note/case analysis any professional conduct issues that arise and how they should be dealt with. If the email from the partner/secretary has asked the candidate to deal with any specific issues then advice on these issues should also be included. Please note that legal issues, advice for the client, next steps and any professional conduct issues should be recorded in the attendance note even if they have already been discussed in the interview.

Preparation (45 minutes)

Candidates are given a separate case study on which they will conduct a piece of advocacy/make an oral presentation. An email asks the candidate to conduct the advocacy/make the presentation and tells them before whom this will be made. Where relevant candidates are also given a file of documents. This file may contain relevant authorities and cases but only where it is considered that a Day One solicitor would need to look up these authorities and cases.

Candidates can make notes during the preparation. They are given 45 minutes to prepare for the advocacy/presentation but the advocacy/presentation itself should not last longer than 15 minutes.

Advocacy/oral presentation (15 minutes)

Candidates make their submission/presentation to a decision maker who is present in the room. The decision maker may ask questions. Candidates can use the notes made earlier. The presentation should not last longer than 15 minutes and candidates will be stopped at the end of this time.

In total, delegates undertake 18 assessed exercises: 6 in Business, 6 in Property and Probate, and 6 in Civil and Criminal Litigation.

The SRA has defined the level of competences expected as that of a competent newly qualified Solicitor:

"You are expected to demonstrate a level of knowledge, professional skills and understanding of legal practice and the law, similarly to a competent newly qualified solicitor, that is likely to avoid a negligence claim.

In simple cases you can identify a client's problem and the main legal issues raised. You should be able to recognise and respond appropriately to common situations which raise issues of professional conduct. You will normally know your limits when ignorant; know to what sources to refer for information; and ask for help when the problem is too difficult to deal with.

The advice you give a client will demonstrably progress the client's matter and be clear enough for the client to understand. It will rarely be wrong. You can communicate in a professional and appropriate (though not necessarily sophisticated) way with others including clients, courts, colleagues and other solicitors. Your use of English is readily comprehensible to clients of any background. Following a meeting most clients will have some confidence in you and your ability to deal with their legal problem.

You can make a reasonably persuasive presentation of your case and defend it at least to some extent. You can draft simple legal documents effectively and with few mistakes, can review and make an initial judgment about some aspects of more complex legal documents and can progress routine legal transactions."

In short, you should know and understand the relevant legal principles and foundation law, be able to explain those to the client using accurate and timely advice, know which documents to use and also to draft various documents yourself when needed.

An assessor who has been trained in playing the role of the client assesses candidates' performance during the interviews. These assessors mark candidates purely on skills, not on the law. All other exercises are marked by solicitors and are marked on both skills and law. For further detail and an outline of the assessment criteria see Kaplan's Marking and Moderation Policy.

OSCE 2 Assessment

Which skills are tested on the OSCE 2 assessment?

OSCE 2 tests your skills in Legal Writing, Legal Research and in Legal Drafting.

How are these skills assessed?

From Kaplan :

In the legal drafting assessed exercise candidates are given 45 minutes to draft a legal document or parts of a legal document. This may take the form of drafting from a precedent or amending a document already drafted but it may also involve drafting without either of these.

Candidates may be provided with relevant cases and authorities but only where it is considered that a solicitor in practice would need to look up these cases and authorities.

Candidates have access to Lexis Library and Westlaw while doing the legal drafting but there is not time to do any significant research.

PLEASE NOTE that if, as a result of technical difficulties, one or both of these legal databases are not available during the assessed exercise, candidates are expected to complete the exercise without reference to the database/s.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010 or on an electronic form depending on the task.

The on-line legal research takes the form of an email from a partner asking candidates to research an issue or issues so that the partner can report back to the client. Candidates are given 60 minutes to complete the on-line legal research.

Candidates are provided with an electronic template on which to write the answer. The template is divided into 2 sections, namely advice to give to the client, and legal reasoning mentioning any key sources or authorities.

Candidates are provided with a computer with the databases Lexis Library (not Lexis PSL) and Westlaw on which to conduct the research. There is no access to other sites. All legal research questions can be answered using either Lexis Library or Westlaw but in any particular case it may be easier to use one of these databases rather than the other. PLEASE NOTE however that in the event of technical difficulties with one of the databases during the exam period candidates are expected to do the legal research on the other database.

PLEASE NOTE All QLTS candidates are eligible for temporary access to Lexis Library and Westlaw at a reduced fee. Candidates should contact Lexis Library and Westlaw for further details.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010.

In the legal writing assessed exercise candidates are given 30 minutes to write a letter or an email as a solicitor acting in or assisting with a matter.

Candidates may be provided with relevant cases and authorities but only where it is considered that a solicitor in practice would need to look up these cases and authorities. Candidates have access to Lexis Library and Westlaw while doing the legal writing but there is not time to do any significant research.

PLEASE NOTE that if, as a result of technical difficulties, one or both of these legal databases are not available during the assessed exercise, candidates are expected to complete the exercise without reference to the database/s.

Answers are written in Microsoft Word using MS Office Professional 2010. Candidates are provided with an electronic template on which to do this.

QLTS FAQ

The OSCE is less complex than the SQE2.

Substantial additions have been made to the FLK (Functioning Legal Knowledge) requirements in the SQE syllabus, with many extra topics added throughout all 5 subject areas, like Company Finance and Personal Insolvency in Business, Appeals Procedure in Criminal Litigation, Planning Law in Property, and Dispute Resolution. The SQE will also include a whole new skill, which is not currently part of the OSCE – Case and matter analysis.  Less topics to prepare for = less study time!

Make use of a success-proven route.

Especially if you have previously started to study for the OSCE, it only makes sense to finish with the QLTS route and our success-proven training, rather than being one of the first groups taking the new SQE exam, with added uncertainties.

Become a solicitor sooner.

Otherwise, the soonest would be a year from now (Aug/Sep 2022) if choosing the SQE route. After taking the MCT, the black letter law is still fresh in your mind and you can make use of a tried-and-tested exam that our delegates typically pass at their first attempt.

Time is running out!

There's only 1 more OSCE sitting: in April 2022. Bookings are open now! Details of the final OSCE exam can be found on the Kaplan website. The last MCT took place on 7 July 2021. Please see the SRA website for details on the transitional arrangements to the SQE.

No Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) needed.

The QLTS has no training or work experience requirement – you only need to pass it to qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales. After the introduction of the SQE in 2021, you might need a minimum of 2-years professional experience, to prove to the SRA that you are competent to practice.

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PART I – The MCT/SQE1 tests common law principles in multiple choice format, requiring you to read through fact patterns and identify the right answer.

Part II – The OSCE/SQE2 are practical exams that require computer-based writing exercises and interviews with actors playing clients. The goal of the OSCE/SQE2 is to replicate your first day in an office.

MCT – 7-July 2021 – was the last QLTS MCT

OSCE – 20 Nov. to 3 Dec. 2021 // 23 Mar. to 3 Apr. 2022 (the final OSCE sitting)

SQE1 – 21 Jul. (FLK1) and 25 Jul. (FLK2) 2022 // Jan. 2023

SQE2 – 11-13 Apr. (Oral) and 19-20 & 20-21 Apr. (Written) 2022 // October 2022

No, we are only the training provider. Kaplan QLTS is the sole authorised assessment provider of both the QLTS and SQE, as designated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Read more FAQs

Benefits of Becoming a Solicitor

Where will I be able to practice law?

Passing the QLTS 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.

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, has been recently 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 first SQE2 assessment will take place in April 2022, and bookings will open on 25 January 2022. Each assessment (SQE1/SQE2) will likely be offered twice 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. 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 .

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