With such a wide variety of routes to entering the legal profession available, it can be difficult to know what work experience you need to have completed to qualify. For each qualification the duration varies, and the requirements in terms of what ‘qualifies’ as work experience may also differ. To help you navigate the options available to you, we are breaking down the legal work experience requirements for all of the routes to qualification that we offer.
Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)– Qualifying Work Experience
To qualify as a solicitor via the SQE route, you are required to complete two years’ full-time (or equivalent) qualifying work experience (QWE).
What is QWE?
The SQE route is flexible and this is reflected in the requirements for QWE. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states that QWE “must involve providing legal services”. QWE can be gained before, during or after sitting the SQE assessments and can be gained in up to four organisations.
It can include work from placements during a law degree, law clinic work, voluntary or charitable legal services, paralegal work, or work undertaken on a training contract. Furthermore, QWE for the SQE isn’t limited to work undertaken in England and Wales – it can be gained overseas and does not need to cover English and Welsh law.
A minimum of two years’ full-time QWE must be completed before, during or after the SQE assessments. As this experience can be obtained at up to four organisations for different lengths of time, the qualifying period may take longer than two years to achieve, for example, if the experience is spread over a range of part-time and full-time roles.
Registering your QWE
Once you have completed your QWE it must be confirmed by a solicitor of England and Wales or a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice. They do not have to work for the same organisation as you, but must review your work during the relevant period of work experience, and must receive feedback from the person(s) supervising your work.
If you are unable to get your QWE confirmed, Access Law Clinic’s ‘Review and Confirm QWE’ service can check your evidence against the QWE requirements and support you in getting your QWE confirmed.
Gain QWE with Access Law Clinic
If you’re struggling to find QWE, Law Training Centre’s partner, Access Law Clinic, can support you in gaining QWE and getting it confirmed. Access Law Clinic gives Law Training Centre learners access to valuable pro bono work experience opportunities with practising solicitors which can be used as part of your SQE QWE.
To find out more about becoming a Law Clinic Associate and gaining some, or all, of your legal work experience with Access Law Clinic, please visit their website.
CLC Diploma in Conveyancing or Probate Law and Practice (CLC)– Practical Experience
To qualify as a CLC Licensed Conveyancer or a CLC Licensed Probate Practitioner, the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) require all licence applicants to complete a Statement of Practical Experience evidencing 1200 hours practical experience relevant to the licence they are applying for.
What is Practical Experience?
The certified Statement of Practical Experience must evidence that you have been in employment assisting in the provision of conveyancing/probate services (as applicable), and must demonstrate that:
- Technical processes have been completed competently.
- You have acted in a professional, principled manner, regarding the CLC Code-of-Conduct requirements.
- Your practical experience has met the requirements of the CLC Student-Training-Framework.
The practical experience can be completed anywhere that deals with provision in conveyancing services and that is headed by a qualified person. This is not limited to legal firms, but can also include housing associations and legal authorities, banks and building societies, and property development companies.
The practical experience can be completed on a full- or part-time basis and can be paid or unpaid work. It can be made up of multiple roles at different organisations.
A minimum of 1200 chargeable hours is required. This is based on 25 supervised hours a week for 48 weeks.
Registering your Practical Experience
Only after the examinations have been successfully completed or if you have been exempted from any of the examinations and you are ready to apply for your licence must you submit a verified Statement of Practical Experience.
The Statement of Practical Experience must be certified within the two-year period prior to the date of the licence application submission. As the 1200 hours can encompass many roles, the Statement of Practical Experience must be completed and signed by an authorised person for each role and submitted with the licence application. An authorised person is defined by section 18 of the Legal Services Act 2007 and includes a licensed conveyancer or probate practitioner (as applicable), a solicitor, or a FCILEX licensed to offer conveyancing/probate services directly to the public.
CILEX Legacy – Qualifying Employment
To become a Chartered Legal Executive through the CILEX Legacy route you must satisfy requirements for Qualifying Employment and produce a Work Based Learning Portfolio.
What is Qualifying Employment?
To meet the requirements of Qualifying Employment you must be employed either by:
- an authorised person in private practice or
- an organisation where the employment is subject to supervision by an authorised person employed in duties of a legal nature by that organisation;
In either case the work under the terms of your employment must be for at least 20 hours per week and be wholly of a legal nature. Part-time employment may be accepted as qualifying employment if the work undertaken provides the opportunity for practical expertise to be developed. Part-time employment is employment for less than 20 hours per week.
To be eligible to apply you must complete at least three years of Qualifying Employment of which:
- One year must be served as an Advanced Paralegal member of CILEX.
- Two years immediately before applying for Fellowship must be served consecutively.
Registering your Qualifying Employment
The first step in the process to apply for Fellowship is to have your employment assessed to ensure it meets the Qualifying Employment requirements. Once it has been confirmed that you are in Qualifying Employment you will compile your portfolio.
CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ)– Professional Experience
To become a CILEX Lawyer through the CPQ route, you are required to complete a Professional Experience Portfolio (PEP).
What is Professional Experience?
You are required to confirm how you have met the competencies laid out in the CILEX Professional Competency Framework. You must use examples from your workplace to describe how you have demonstrated each competency, which will need to be validated by your supervisor.
Registering your Professional Experience
At CPQ Professional stage, you will need to compile a portfolio of professional experience to show that you meet both:
- the CPQ Professional stage Professional Experience requirement; and
- the CRL Education Standards Competences for your specialism – the portfolio.
From 2024, the process for completing both of these requirements will be integrated into the CPQ Professional Experience Portfolio (PEP).
If you require further information and support regarding work experience across any of our courses, please reach out to our Student Services Team at [email protected] or our Legal Talent Development Team at [email protected].