What is the SQE and Why Should You Care?
The SQE has changed the legal industry and knowing how it’ll affect your law career is paramount in making sure you’re on the right path.
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What Does SQE Stand For?
The acronym SQE stands for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, which is a new ‘super exam’ replacing the current system that all prospective solicitors will need to pass from 2020.
The system is split into two parts:
Stage 1: Practical Legal Skills exam on legal research and writing.
Stage 2: Five Practical Legal Skills assessments across two different practice areas i.e. Criminal Practice, Dispute Resolution and Property
It is expected that Stage 1 will be completed before a prospective solicitor completes the required work-based experience.
Have you seen our extensive SQE Free Guide? Go here to read more. >>
Why Is It Being Introduced?
The new route is intended to dispel any preconceived notions that a university route is better than an apprenticeship or ‘equivalent means’ route, since a standardised test will be given.
The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) describes this as giving all qualifiers the opportunity to “demonstrate a level of intellect and analytical ability at least equivalent to that of a graduate.”
The SRA also acknowledges the varied entry requirements and assessment methods for law degrees, the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) and the LPC (Legal Practice Course), and the difficulty this creates in attempting to provide a standardised qualification. The new test will hopefully help to alleviate some of these concerns.
Want to know more about the SQE? Read more here. >>
Who Will This Affect?
For those who are already completing a law degree or Legal Practice Course (LPC), they will be able to continue on the existing pathway. The SRA is generously proposing that the transition period continues until 2031.
August 2020 will be the last chance for candidates to continue on the old route and those beginning a law degree in September 2020 will need to follow the new pathway.
Why Should This Interest You?
This should reduce the cost of qualifying as a solicitor, by preventing people from paying to complete the LPC only to fail to get a trainee position.
Opening other routes to qualification that will be assessed by the SQE alongside law degrees, such as apprenticeships and ‘equivalent means’, provides prospective lawyers with many more viable options to the traditional law degree that will be regarded with equal merit.
The next few years will therefore bring a major overhaul to legal education. However, whether or not the changes will have the desired effect is unknown.
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Did you know that we have a very popular law podcast? In this episode, we delve deeper into the SQE and uncover exactly why it’s being brought into force. >>
Author: Radhika Morally