New solicitor qualification regime approved in England and Wales

The SRA’s new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) has been formally approved by the  Legal Services Board (LSB).  The new examination will be officially introduced in September 2021, with the first assessments for SQE1, the first part of the qualification, taking place in November 2021, and the first assessments for SQE2 taking place in April 2022.

Under the new requirements, students will be required to hold a degree or equivalent qualifications or experience. Under the current rules, students must either hold a law degree or undertake an additional course, the Graduate Diploma in Law, if they elected to take a non-law degree. The SQE will be made up of a two-part centralised assessment: SQE1 (two exams of multiple-choice questions assessing legal knowledge) and SQE2 (an exam assessing legal skills). Candidates must pass SQE1 to progress to SQE2. Students must also complete a minimum of two years qualifying work experience with up to four different organisations and satisfy character and suitability requirements. As well as this the SRA has set out principles for recognising qualified lawyer professional qualifications and experience when determining whether to allow individuals to forego any SQE component.

The SRA will give more information over the coming weeks around the administration of the new assessments.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA, said: “We welcome the LSB’s decision. The SQE will provide assurance that all aspiring solicitors meet consistent, high standards at point of entry to the profession. It will also open up new and diverse routes to qualification.”

Read the LSB’s full decision, or read the SRA’s response to the decision.

Brought to you by ICLR.