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15 April 2024

Law Graduate Guide: What is the SQE?

Many law graduates hope to become solicitors but find themselves unsure of what their next steps should be. With competitive training contracts making qualification seem almost impossible and old routes like the Legal Practice Course (LPC) coming to an end, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, we’re here to help!

In our Law Graduate Guide, we’ll be breaking down how law graduates can qualify as solicitors through the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) pathway introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), helping you set yourself up for career success.


What is the SQE?

The SRA introduced the SQE in September 2021 as a replacement for the LPC which had previously been the only option for qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales. The introduction of the SQE offers a new, standardised assessment with a lower cost of study and more flexible course opportunities.

To qualify as a solicitor through the SQE route, learners must satisfy four main elements:

  • Have a degree in any subject (or equivalent Level 6 qualification or work experience)
  • Pass both stages of the SQE assessment or be exempt
  • Have two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE)
  • Pass SRA character and suitability requirements

The SQE assessment stage consists of two parts. SQE1 tests your knowledge and application of the law through multiple-choice questions. SQE2 tests your legal skills in context with both oral and written exams.

Once you have completed all of the elements, you will be able to qualify as a solicitor!


Starting your SQE journey

Taking the next step in your career after graduating can be daunting, and with so many options, it can be difficult to choose which path to go down. However, the SQE is a great route for those leaving university with a law degree and looking to launch themselves into an exciting legal career.

As a law graduate, you will have already satisfied the first element of the SQE, bringing you one step closer to qualification! This means that you will not have to take on any other studies before enrolling on an SQE preparation course and can set foot on your SQE journey straight away.


What about the training contract?

One element of confusion that seems to occur among many law graduates is the need for a training contract. With the older LPC route to qualification, learners were required to get a training contract from a law firm, making it highly competitive as these were very difficult to secure. However, many law graduates don’t realise that this is no longer needed! With the new SQE pathway, learners do not need a training contract (although some firms do still offer these for SQE) and can instead go straight into the course by either funding it themselves or getting support from an employer. So, as you will have already satisfied the first element of the SQE with your degree and you do not need to find a training contract, you can begin looking for an SQE preparation course!


Choosing an SQE preparation course

There is no requirement to study a preparation course to sit the SQE. However, the SQE are high stakes examinations with high exam costs. Candidates are allowed to resit the exam up to two times if they are not successful on the first attempt and will be required to pay the full exam fee on each resit. Therefore, many learners choose to embark on a structured course of study, especially those who are juggling work and other commitments.

There are a wide variety of SQE preparation courses for learners to choose from ranging from simple mock exam question banks to complete preparation courses covering all associated topics.

Well-structured SQE preparation courses designed by subject matter experts aim to support learners in their SQE studies, preparing them to take their exams. Courses will offer different amounts of tutor support, course materials and mock exam experience, so it’s important to consider all the options best suited to your context.

At Law Training Centre we offer a range of SQE1 and SQE2 courses to suit a variety of learning styles. Our most comprehensive SQE1 course is our SQE1 Full Prep course. As a recent law graduate, however, you may find our SQE1 Express course better suited to your needs as you have already completed prior legal education and therefore should have a strong knowledge base. Our SQE2 course will then assist in building on the knowledge gained with the application of practical legal skills.

If you’re unsure about which course is right for you, why not contact our friendly Student Services Team to discuss your options?


Finding QWE

Many aspiring solicitors get put off by the idea of having to undergo two years of qualifying work experience, but in reality, the new SQE pathway makes this requirement much easier!

QWE can be gathered in up to four different organisations and can be accrued before, during or after completion of the SQE assessment stage. It must involve providing legal services, but can be paid or voluntary.

This means that law graduates also have the added bonus of being able to use work experience placements from during their time at university towards their QWE.

Plus, the flexible nature of QWE allows you to work alongside your studies. For those eager to get into the workplace and start earning after leaving university, this means that you can get a part or full time job in the legal industry and also accrue your QWE at the same time!


So, what are you waiting for? Start your SQE journey today by signing up for an SQE preparation course with Law Training Centre!

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