Feeling confused about where the introduction of the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) leaves you, and the timeline for phasing out the traditional qualification pathway? Don’t worry, Law Training Centre has you covered: find out all you need to know about the SQE transitional arrangements.
From the 1st September 2021, to qualify as a Solicitor of England and Wales through the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), aspiring Solicitors will need to meet four main requirements:
- 1. Have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification/work experience);
- 2. Pass both stages of the SQE assessment – SQE1 focuses on legal knowledge and SQE2 on practical legal skills;
- 3. Have two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE); and
- 4. Meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
The first exams for the SQE start in November 2021 with the first sitting of the SQE1. However, if you are already partway through your qualification journey via the traditional route, you may be wondering where this leaves you – can you finish according to your current plan? Or what if you want to swap to the SQE?
The good news is that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have put in place transitional arrangements, in order to provide candidates with as much choice as possible. Someone already studying or training to become a Solicitor can therefore utilise the transitional arrangements to continue to qualify through the existing routes, or they can choose to do the SQE instead.
If the transitional arrangements apply to you then you will have until the 31st December 2032 to finish qualifying as a Solicitor through the existing routes. However, this is providing that the courses for the current pathways remain available, and so you should consider both availability and time limits when making your decision of which qualification route to take.
You can also find out more about how the SQE compares to the LPC specifically here.
Who do transitional arrangements apply to?
These transitional arrangements apply to anyone who has completed, started, or accepted an offer of a place before 1st September 2021 for one of the following:
- the Common Professional Examination (CPE) / Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
- the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
- a training contract
They also apply to anyone who has completed, started, or accepted an offer of a place by 21st September 2021 for:
- a qualifying law degree (QLD)
- an exempting law degree (ELD)
In most cases, you will have started your QLD or ELD by the 31st of December 2021. If you have deferred your place on a course from the academic year 2020/21 to the academic year 2021/2022, you may start at any time in that academic year up to and including 31st August 2022 and still take advantage of transitional arrangements. However, these will not be available should you defer your place to a later academic year, and you will also need to keep evidence of having deferred in order to be accepted onto an LPC.
If none of the above apply to you, then you are not eligible for the transitional arrangements and will instead be able to take the SQE route to qualification.
Find out more about how you can prepare for SQE success with Law Training Centre’s SQE1 Prep and SQE2 Prep.