The new Solicitors Qualifying Examination, which is set to be phased in by the start of the 2021/22 academic year, has been designed to allow you to be flexible in the way you work towards qualifying as a solicitor.
In the current system, completing a two-year placement at a law firm where you spend time in at least four departments - known as ‘seats’ - is a prerequisite to be added to the roll of solicitors once you apply. However, with the number of training contracts available comfortably outnumbered by the number of people completing the relevant law qualifications, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has decided to increase the options for legal work experience.
Other work experience options for the SQE2
This means that not only is holding a training contract not necessary before doing SQE2, but neither is it necessary for admission as a solicitor. Instead, the definition of qualifying legal work experience has been widened to include other roles in which legal expertise can be put into practice by candidates. This includes working as a paralegal, in a law clinic, or in a voluntary role involving legal work.
In addition, the period of work does not have to be a continuous 24 months, but can be split up between different positions in different organisations. As a result, you could undertake your work experience before or after you sit your SQE1 and SQE2 exams, or complete a fraction of it either side of the assessments.
Nevertheless, you should also bear in mind that you are expected to complete all of the components of the SQE within six years - this means completing the two years of work experience and all of the SQE assessments, as well as passing the character and suitability requirements by the time you apply.
These placements will not be assessed by the SRA, and will be valid as long as they can be signed off by another qualified solicitor, and you’ll need to provide details regarding the tasks you carried out and how they helped you develop your legal skills.