The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today (September 1) launched the Lawyer Qualifying Examination (SQE), a new path to the profession for aspiring lawyers.
Aspiring lawyers can currently either complete a Law Degree and Legal Practice Course (LPC) or a Non-Legal Diploma and Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), followed by a training contract (two years of workplace training).
However, as of today, the SQE will replace this scheme. Students will now need to earn a degree (or equivalent), complete two years of qualifying professional experience (QWE), and pass two sets of centralized assessments, called SQE1 and SQE2. They must also meet the character and suitability requirements of the SRA.
Bar President I. Stephanie Boyce commented, âThis new system has the potential to strengthen the legal sector’s desire to expand diversity and inclusion and to positively impact social mobility. We need to hear different voices and reflect the diversity of the jurisdictions in which we live. I strongly encourage the profession to engage positively in the changes.
“Paralegals who may have had difficulty qualifying due to the limited number of training contracts now have a more accessible path to the profession.”
Boyce explained that there is “greater flexibility” around what constitutes QWE: “[QWE] can be carried out over an extended period, up to four separate internships, with no minimum duration for each internship â.
She added, “The Law Society and its Disability Lawyers Division continue to work with the SRA to ensure that the SQE is accessible to applicants with disabilities, including through the use of assistive technology.”
Transitional arrangements will be put in place over the next few years to “give educational institutions and employers time to adjust their offering,” Boyce said. She added: “Anyone falling under the provisions will have until December 31, 2032 to qualify as a lawyer under the existing routes.”
Boyce said the Law Society will monitor the implementation of the SQE and “will continue to support the profession with the QWE and employment considerations arising from the changes.”
She added: ‘We will also continue to ensure that those looking to enter the profession are able to do so, lobbying the UK government to ensure that sufficient funding is in place for all, that Reasonable adjustments are available and that there is fair treatment. and an opportunity for those who wish to practice law.
To undertake the SQE assessments, aspiring lawyers will have to pay a total of Â£ 3,980 (Â£ 1,558 for SQE1 and Â£ 2,422 for SQE2). This does not include additional preparation costs.
The government has not committed to release funds for independent SQE preparation courses or to cover the cost of SQE assessments; however, some course providers have entered into agreements with private loan providers.