What is the new solicitors qualifying exam?

Thursday 3rd January 2019

For a while now the Solicitors Regulation Authority has been looking into changing the way in which people qualify into the profession of law.

The SRA have proposed a Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and whilst the proposals are still being developed, we now have a small amount of information regarding the new proposals.

The need for change came about after the response to the final report of the Legal Education and Training Review in 2013. The report highlighted the need for more attention on the standards required for solicitors, particularly at the point of qualification.

The SQE will include two stages, the first of which will be a series of written (mainly multiple-choice) style exams which will test the application of legal knowledge and a written test of legal research and writing. The second test will include a series of practical assessments of skills such as interviewing and giving advice.

Before entering the SQE all aspiring solicitors must have a degree level qualification, two years’ qualifying work experience that must be signed off by the employer and satisfaction of a character and suitability test.

These tests are designed to assess the competencies set out in the Statement of Solicitor Competence and the knowledge set out in the Statement of Legal Knowledge.

Candidates have the opportunity to complete preparatory courses which may be run on undergraduate courses or at Masters level degree, but there may also be stand-alone preparation courses that students can choose to enroll on.

The Legal Practice course will no long be a required element for qualification and may cease to run completely. Should the SQE be introduced in September 2020, the last start date on any part of the current routes will be August 2020.

Anyone starting a qualifying law degree or GDL before 2020, or who has entered into a contractual agreement or made a non-refundable financial commitment to start a qualifying law degree or GDL before 2020 can choose to continue under the old system to 2031 or to qualify under the SQE system.

If you are an aspiring solicitor reading this, there is no reason why you should not continue to follow the current path of education and training. The current routes will remain valid until the introduction of the SQE at which point you can continue along the path you have chosen or transition across to the new system. If you’d like details about starting your training at Waldrons, please click here to contact our HR department.

Courtney Hawkins, Trainee Solicitor

Waldrons Solicitors

Katie Hinton