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Solicitors Qualifying Examination

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a single, national licensing examination that all aspiring solicitors will take before qualifying. From 1 September 2021 to qualify you will need to:

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Why complete the SQE over the LPC?

Cost
The SQE costs roughly £4,000, not including any additional training, compared to roughly £15,000 for the LPC.
Time
Instead of spending a further year in education, the SQE allows a student to complete exams whilst working in a law firm. This provides excellent opportunities to learn for the second exam and build towards the 2 years work experience requirement.
Training
Many universities will start to provide SQE training alongside a traditional law degree. This allows students to be more prepared to sit the first SQE exam.

About SQE

There is no requirement for a student to study a qualifying law degree, however they may still do so if they choose to:

Traditional law degree

As with studying towards an LPC, a student who studies a qualifying law degree will be eligible to study the SQE. By taking this route, a candidate will be aware of many of the topic that will be assessed in the first exam, alongside developing useful skills for a career in law.

A non-law degree

There is no requirement for studying a law degree, however a student who does not study a law degree will have to take a longer preparatory course to ensure that they are fully aware of the assessed subjects, and may benefit to a much greater extent from practical work experience.

Equivalent qualifications or experience

A degree qualification may not be necessary if it can be demonstrated that a qualification or work experience equivalent to a UK degree is held. If the work experience does not meet the requirements for qualifying work experience then they will also need to gain 2 years’ experience delivering legal services.

The exams may also be completed as part of an apprenticeship

-> Solicitor apprenticeship
-> Graduate apprenticeship
-> Other apprenticeships
What is included in SQE Stage 1
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3 multiple choice tests + 2 cycles of skills assessments (1 research and 2 writing) 360 questions, 2 legal research exercises and 4 writing exercises. This will typically be held over 2 consecutive days, or if not possible, 2 days in quick succession. One exam of 180 questions will be sat each day. Initially all candidates will sit on the same two days, over time there may be a window provided to sit the assessment (across the course of a week)
What is included in SQE Stage 2
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Exam 2 is a practical skills exam, with 2 exams testing 5 skills each across 2 practice areas. This exam will test: client interview skills, advocacy, case and matter analysis. Legal research and drafting is partially covered in SQE 1. Actors will take part in the simulation, so will leave out details and may react emotionally or angrily to comments, as a real client may.

Qualifying Work Experience

Any experience of providing legal services that offers a candidate the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences needed to practise as a solicitor. A solicitor or compliance officer will sign off a candidate’s qualifying work experience, but are not signing off whether a candidate is competent to practice.
Any experience of providing legal services that offers the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge needed to practice as a solicitor:
Experience can be gained during or after the SQE, however it must be completed by the time they apply for admission.
Experience can be banked for when the SQE comes in on 1 September 2021. This work experience must be signed off by one of the following:

If a candidate already has the LPC, this can be recognised alongside qualifying work experience and successfully passing SQE2 as equivalent to a period of recognised training contract.

Character And Suitability

Integrity is incredibly important and is treated as seriously as knowledge and skills. These only need to be mentioned when applying to be a solicitor When considering character and suitability, the SRA will take into account the overriding need to

This is considered on a case by case basis.

Conditions can be imposed on a persons authorisation if the SRA cannot be satisfied that a person is of good character and suitable for the role.
If rejected, can only seek a further assessment if there has been a material change in your circumstances relevant to the SRA assessment.

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