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Image of law symbols for UniTasterDays blog about the process to qualify as a solicitor
A headshot image of the author, Chloe Warsop

by Chloe Warsop

Senior Student Recruitment Manager at the University of Law

posted on 5 Jun '21

A school and college guide to the new process for students wishing to qualify as a solicitor

How do you become a solicitor?

From September 2021 there is a new way to become a solicitor in the UK. For context, the current route requires students to:

1. Complete a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) or non-law degree followed by a conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)

2. Pass the Legal Practice Course (LPC)

3. Complete a 2-year training contract

4. Apply to be admitted as a solicitor

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) is now changing this route by introducing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

What is the SQE and what does the SQE route to qualify as a solicitor involve?

One of the most notable changes is that to become a solicitor you will not now have to pass a prescribed course, instead you will have to pass a set of exams - SQE. A student who holds an undergraduate degree in any subject can take these exams, in theory straight after graduating. However, whether there will be many students who decide to self-teach and risk the near £4,000 cost of sitting these exams without any formal preparation course is yet to be seen.

Providers, like The University of Law, will continue to offer courses to students who want to become a solicitor to help them prepare for SQE and build the skills they will need to be successful in their career.

Another big change is the removal of the training contract. This is now replaced with 2 years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). Unlike the training contract, QWE can be accrued before, during or after SQE assessments are taken. It can also be gathered from up to four different organisations. Just like the removal of the need to have a QLD or GDL before sitting SQE, the introduction of QWE aims to increase flexibility and widen access to the profession.

When will the new changes to quality as a solicitor havce an impact on your students?

SQE will be introduced in September 2021. However, there will be some transitional arrangements as we move from the old system to the new.

Crucially for new undergraduate students - anyone who has accepted an offer for a place on a QLD before 1 September 2021 (with the course starting no later than 31 December 2021) will be able to choose whether they follow the old LPC route or new SQE route.

Any students starting university in September 2022 will have to follow the SQE route. Hopefully, that whistle stop tour has shown you two things: the path your students need to follow to become a solicitor and how much the legal sector loves an acronym!

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