The SQE will only begin to be phased in from the autumn of 2021, from which point it will be progressively introduced across all sections of the legal training process. For solicitor apprenticeships beginning after this date, this means that the usual LPC exam you would pass while working will change to a two-part SQE exam, which itself will no longer require a Qualifying Law Degree to enter.
In some cases, firms that offer solicitor apprenticeships have already adapted their offering to integrate the SQE. For instance, this change has seen the emergence of an alternative to training contracts, whereby graduates can complete a two and a half year apprenticeship with a law firm all the while completing the two components of the SQE exams. These solicitor apprenticeships will be considered at level 7 on the ladder, meaning they’ll be accessible to those who have an undergraduate degree, or an equivalent level 6 qualification.
On longer six-year apprenticeships, you can find yourself first completing a law degree and then moving on to the SQE exams, instead of the LPC. For example, this is the case with the University of Law’s solicitor apprenticeship.
The SQE can form off-the-job learning in an apprenticeship
As 20% of the time spent on an apprenticeship is dedicated to learning, the employer can find a provider of a preparation course for the SQE once as an apprentice you’ve completed the degree component. As the SQE does not consist of a standardised course, with the only compulsory aspect the exams you take, you will undertake a course with a third-party provider.
As the Solicitors Regulation Authority has planned for a transition period starting from the introduction of the SQE exams in autumn 2021, arrangements will be made for apprenticeships that are ongoing to be completed through the current system, which could remain valid up until 2032.