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QLTS Changes

BY EVE DULLABH

International lawyer and want to practice English law? Act now: qualifying may get tougher and more expensive.

Huge changes are happening to the way that solicitors qualify to practice English law. While there’s a logic to those changes they do mean that it may cost more in time and money for international lawyers to dual-qualify.
This change to the qualification route is a consequence of the actions of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for England and Wales, which is replacing the current way in which students qualify as solicitors with a new system. When that is established, this will have consequences for the way in which international students can also qualify to practice the law of England and Wales.

Introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)

The current qualification UK students take to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales is the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This is being replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). In turn, this means that the current means for international students to dual qualify and therefore practise English law – through the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme – will also come to an end. No final decision has been made as to what the exact replacement for the QLTS will be. However, it’s likely to include additional criteria for those who wish to dual qualify. While the QLTS won’t be abandoned for two years or more, now is the time to start to study for it before it does disappear.

What is the LPC, and why is it being discontinued?

The Legal Practice Course or LPC has existed since 1993 and is regulated by the Law Society of England and Wales. It is a postgraduate qualification, combining theory and vocational skills, and is designed to be the final step between academia and entering the profession as a junior lawyer through a training contract. Those who have law degrees can study the LPC immediately upon graduation whereas non-law students must take a conversion course called the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before. Typically, the LPC lasts one year if studied full time and two years for a part-time student.
It is, however, a qualification which has existed for over twenty-five years and is considered, by many, to be no longer relevant to modern business. As the legal profession fragments and becomes more specialised, parts of it requires a far more flexible work force. The LPC has also been criticised as too expensive and elitist and unworkable for a wide range of potential students.

Enter the SQE – and why it could make becoming dual qualified more expensive

The LPC will be replaced by the two-stage Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
SQE stage 1 will test legal knowledge and practical legal skills based around client scenarios. The assessments for the former seem likely to involve twice the number of multiple- choice questions asked in the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which is the current way in which international students can become dual qualified. Yet the qualification route for international students needs have parity with UK students. When the LPC is scrapped so will the QLTS. This means the process of becoming dual qualified will become longer, tougher and quite probably more expensive.
SQE stage 2 can only be completed once students have completed the first stage.

Complete the QLTS while you can

We are therefore advising international students who wish to become dual qualified to do so now through the existing scheme.
The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme is available to lawyers qualified in recognised jurisdictions outside the UK. Possession of the QLTS is a condition of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for the admission of overseas lawyers to practice in England and Wales. The assessment comprises two parts: a Multiple Choice Test (MCT) and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OCSE) in which a mixture of assessors assess practical skills and knowledge of key practice areas:
1. Business.
2. Property and Probate.
3. Civil and Criminal Litigation.
Post QLTS, the future mode of dual qualification is uncertain. Enrol with Law Training Centre now and we will help you pass your QLTS. Our tutors are qualified lawyers with masses of knowledge.
For the MCT, students learn:
  • Core knowledge and understanding of the law applied in England and Wales.
  • Intellectual, analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Transactional and dispute resolution skills.
  • Legal, professional and client relationship knowledge and skills.
  • Personal development and work management skills.
  • Professional values, behaviours, attitudes and ethics.
  • For the OSCE, students learn the six practical legal skills demanded by the SRA. These are:
  • Client interviews for each of the three practice areas.
  • Completion of attendance notes/case analysis for each of the three practice areas.
  • Advocacy/oral presentation for each of the three practice areas.
  • Legal drafting for each of the three practice areas.
  • Legal research for each of the three practice areas.
  • Legal writing for each of the three practice areas.