If you’re looking to qualify as a solicitor having completed a law degree, there are now various routes you can take. The new SQE exams, made up of two sets of exam sessions, SQE1 and SQE2, can be taken from the end of 2021. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has implemented a transition period running until 2032, during which prospective solicitors can choose between completing their training by taking the Legal Practice Course (LPC), or the newer SQE exams.
Should I pick the LPC or the SQE?
Before making a decision, you should bear in mind the differences between the LPC and SQE - the former is a one-year course taken after completing a law degree or a conversion from the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), while the latter is a stand-alone set of exams.
The SQE is divided into two exam sessions, and while a preparation course is not strictly necessary in order to take them, it’s strongly recommended you register for one of the many providers before sitting the exams.
The SQE will be the common route for all graduates, whether you’ll have completed a qualifying law degree or not. This means that it might be a better option for you, as a law graduate, to undertake the shorter, year-long LPC instead of waiting for the longer route of qualification to come into effect.
Should I wait before starting the SQE?
On the other hand, waiting for the SQE to be introduced does have its advantages - for one, it will be considerably cheaper than the LPC. The two exam sessions put together are expected to cost just short of £4,000, although this does exclude the price of any preparation course you might undertake.
If you choose to wait until the autumn of 2021, it might be a good idea to look into beginning your Qualifying Work Experience (QWE), another requirement on the new route to becoming a solicitor alongside passing the SQE exams.
Can I undertake legal work experience before the SQE?
While previously the training contract requirement made qualifying a restricted prospect, the SRA has now widened the scope of the work experience you can gain in your training period. You’ll still need to complete 24 months’ worth of legal work, but you can now split this up between different roles and at different organisations.
This will give you move flexibility in accruing the experience you need to qualify, as you can undertake placements before, during and after studying for the SQE. Any work experience you do no now will count towards the two-year requirements, so it might be a good idea to make use of the time available before the SQE exams begin.