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19 February 2024

Qualifying as a solicitor without a law degree

It is often assumed that you must have a law degree to qualify as a solicitor. However, you can have a degree in any subject or equivalent Level 6 qualification when qualifying via the SQE pathway – not just law! 

This is in part to widen participation in the profession whilst increasing the diversity of professional and educational backgrounds of future lawyers. The law touches on every part of our lives and in an increasingly complex world the practice of law is becoming more and more specialities. For example many specialties such as cyber security lawyers and education lawyers didn’t exist only a few years ago, but are now growing areas thanks to the increased diversity of backgrounds of those within the legal profession.  

So, if you’re looking to become a solicitor but you’ve not got a law degree, why not take the SQE route to qualification? 


What is the SQE route to qualify? 

Replacing the LLB and LPC pathway, the SQE route now allows individuals with a non-law degree to qualify. This means that you are eligible for the SQE route if you have a degree in any other subject, an equivalent Level 6 qualification or work experience. Examples of Level 6 qualifications include apprenticeships, work experience and some courses offered by Law Training Centre such as our Level 6 CLC Diplomas. 

This means that even if you don’t have a law degree or you come from a different field, becoming a solicitor is still accessible to you via the SQE. This accessible pathway is greatly helpful to many of our learners coming from different backgrounds such as Albert, who has now completed SQE1 and SQE2 after coming from a background working in an IT role.  

“The SQE1 prep course was great, and the course materials worked really well. The tutor support was brilliant. There really is no difference in the way you build a rapport with your tutor as you would with tutors on a real campus. They are very helpful and responsive. I decided to do the SQE2 prep course with Law Training Centre as my experience with their SQE1 prep course had been very positive.”  – Albert, SQE1 learner 

Read more about Albert’s journey to becoming a solicitor here. 


Elements of qualifying 

There are four main elements that need to be satisfied for those who wish to qualify as a solicitor via the SQE route. 

To allow flexibility in how you qualify, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has not stated any order in which you must complete the first three elements. You can choose when and how you complete each part to fit around your own commitments. For example, you can start to develop and collate your work experience before you take your SQE assessments. 


Studying the SQE with no background in law

Having a law degree would perhaps give you an advantage in terms of existing knowledge when studying the SQE, however it is not a requirement and it can be studied with a non-law degree.  

A well-structured and developed SQE preparation course for non-law degree holders will provide the knowledge needed to not only pass the SQE but also many of the skills for life in practice. Compare SQE preparation courses here.

You can satisfy the first element to qualifying by having a degree in any subject, not just law! As long as you are a degree holder or have an equivalent Level 6 qualification then there is nothing stopping you!  

However, if you don’t have a degree already, it doesn’t mean you can’t still pursue the SQE route to qualification. With lots of Level 6 options available, you can study another course first and then begin studying SQE1. For example, you could complete one of our CLC Level 6 Diplomas, which is one of the quickest pathways to a Level 6 qualification. Plus, there are plenty of other options such as our CILEX Level 6 qualifications or an apprenticeship. 

You can also use work experience to cover this requirement, where you can apply for an exemption for the SQE1 or SQE2 through the SRA.  It is required that you provide evidence of your qualifications and work experience that may be relevant to the areas of law that are covered in the SQE1 – either the full assessment or FLK1 and FLK2 separately. Your work experience must demonstrate that you have carried out work that is not dissimilar to the Law of England and Wales and sample evidence must be given such as redacted attendance notes or letters to clients.  

For more information on how to apply for an individual SQE Assessment Exemption, please visit the Solicitors Regulation Authority website. 

Although it is not a requirement that you sit a preparation course prior to taking the SQE1 exam, it is highly recommended that you take a prep course to ensure you have the best chance at passing the exam. The SQE1 exam requires you to apply a large amount of knowledge on various topics of law, and it is not an easy pass. Law Training Centre’s SQE1 Full Prep course will help you bridge that gap in legal knowledge as it covers everything you need to know to sit the SQE1 exam. 

“I learnt a lot of skills that I could easily transfer and put into practice when I was working at my firm, so it was good to have the theory behind it from Law Training Centre.” – Sunny Miah, SQE learner at Law Training Centre


Access to Law SQE Scholarship

At Law Training Centre, we want to make your learning experience as flexible and accessible as possible. The Access to Law SQE Scholarship offers funding of £1000 towards your SQE1 Full Prep and/or SQE2 Full Prep/Exemptions Plus. This scholarship is for future legal professionals from under-represented backgrounds. 

If you would like to apply for the Access To Law SQE Scholarship, please complete and return the Access To Law SQE Scholarship application form to [email protected].   


Obtaining qualifying work experience (QWE)

The subject of QWE often causes confusion and uncertainty, but we are here to break it down for you. It is a requirement of the SRA to have two years QWE to qualify as a solicitor. There are many individuals who work in law firms who think that they cannot qualify as a solicitor because they do not have a law degree – but this isn’t the case! QWE can be completed before, during or after taking the SQE assessments. 

Our partner Access Law Clinic may be able to help you gain some hours toward the QWE using their online law clinic services by becoming a Law Clinic Associate. 

Visit the SRA’s website to find more about what counts as QWE. 

Contact [email protected] to find out more about becoming a Law Clinic Associate. 


Getting support from your employer

We know that it can be difficult asking your employer for financial support to help you fund your studies and that’s why Law Training Centre has created the SQE Career Progression Business Plan Template.   

Once you have identified the most suitable SQE course to take your career to the next level, use our template to help you gain financial support from your employer towards your qualification. Download our template here. 


Still got questions about qualifying without a law degree? Contact our friendly Student Services Team on +44 (0)330 088 8495 or by email at [email protected]. 

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