Under the new SQE specifications, it won’t be strictly necessary to undertake a course in order to prepare for the two sets of exams that come under it. However, you’ll find that not undertaking one can be a barrier to your success, given the challenging nature of these exams, even if you’re obtained stellar grades at undergraduate level.
Previously, non-law graduates needed to take a Graduate Diploma in Law - GDL - before moving on to the Legal Practice Course taken by candidates who studied law at undergraduate level, be it the LLB or a similar Qualifying Law Degree. As all graduates will now take the same exam regardless of their academic background - as long as they’ve completed a degree level Level 6 qualification - everyone will take the same route towards qualifying as a solicitor.
Will doing the LLB at university help me at SQE level?
However, this will also mean that the SQE training course you choose will depend on whether you have any prior legal knowledge. If you’ve done an LLB, for example, you will have already covered the core subjects of law that form the basis of the Functioning Legal Knowledge exams of SQE1.
On the other hand, if you’re approaching the SQE having studied another subject, your preparation course will also take the form of a conversion course - it would be more all-encompassing, essentially a crash-course in the foundational aspects of law that you’ll need to know to qualify.
In addition, if you’re applying to training contracts - or you’ve already got one lined up - the firm you’ll be joining might have already prepared for you to take an SQE training course before you join and sit the SQE1 exams. In this case, it goes without saying that you’ll need to undertake the course as a prerequisite for the placement - although this does mean that the entry fee is likely to be funded by the firm.