Since 2021, the landscape of solicitor training has been moving away from the Legal Practice Course (LPC), with a shift towards the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations (SQE) now picking up speed as eligibility for the outgoing LPC begins to wane.
In April 2023, Legal Cheek surveyed 46 law firms to understand their perspectives around recruiting SQE and LPC graduates, and whether law conversion courses are valuable for non-law graduates. The majority of these firms said they expect their solicitor trainees to undertake additional training beyond SQE preparation courses.
So, what does this mean for budding solicitors who are about to start their training journey?
Essentially, alongside passing the SQE, firms want to see candidates with knowledge and skills in areas beyond the assessments – they are looking for graduates from courses that contain skills and practice area focused modules, and, in their application, the credibility of a Master’s degree. Many SQE prep courses are designed to get you through the assessments and then the rest is over to you, which can be daunting.
The good news is that there are a number of courses available that not only prepare you for the SQE exams, but that also equip you with the practical skills and knowledge sought after by law firms.
The University of Law offers students a range of postgraduate courses to help them become a solicitor, including SQE1 and SQE2 Preparation Courses, and their most popular – the LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2).
This Master’s course covers SQE preparation and the additional skills, competencies and specialist knowledge that firms are looking for, within its ‘SQE Plus’ programme. Alongside this, students are eligible for 4 weeks’ guaranteed Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) in the university’s legal advice clinics, as well as benefitting from their employment promise – get a job within 9 months or get your fees back.*
* terms and conditions apply
The course’s SQE Plus content focuses on black letter law, professional practice and commercial awareness alongside the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) needed for SQE1 and practical legal skills in SQE2.
Thinking ahead to your future career and specialism, the course allows you to choose three modules from key practice areas, including:
You’ll be a step ahead of competitors when you apply to your firm of choice, with this knowledge in your back pocket.
In the Preparation for Practice module, you will be able to drill down into the nuances and broader contexts of practising law in your chosen specialist areas.
The SQE Plus section of the course was the deciding factor for me to choose the LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2). The additional modules of SQE Plus appeared to me and my employer to be a great way to prepare for my career even further, giving a more in-depth look into relevant areas of law and practice.
Former LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) student
Students from all backgrounds are grappling with the changing route to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales – and trying to understand the best course for them, based on the wide range of options and providers available.
If the LPC isn’t for you, or you aren’t eligible to study it under the SRA’s transitional requirements, then it seems the Master’s is the best route forward, to get the skills, experience and competencies that will set you apart from other candidates in the future job market. Don’t forget, with this route, you’re also eligible to apply** for a postgraduate student loan to support your studies.
**subject to requirements
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