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What is the new system of qualification?

The way in which aspiring solicitors can qualify in England and Wales has now changed. Do you know what the new rules are?

There are multiple ways candidates can enter the legal profession now.
The SQE route is open to anyone with an undergraduate degree or level 6 qualification equivalent.

What are the entry points into the profession?

The LPC route is now limited and only applicable to trainees who meet the transitional arrangement criteria set by the SRA. These arrangements apply to anyone who, before 1 September 2021, had completed, started, accepted an offer of a place or paid a non-refundable deposit for the GDL, the LPC, or a training contract. The Apprenticeship route through the SQE can start when trainees have completed their A levels or is also available at the graduate level. Otherwise, trainees will go through the SQE pathway outside of the apprenticeship route.

Whether a qualified lawyer overseas, a qualified CILEX Lawyer/ Practitioner or a Barrister, they can apply to join the roll of solicitors in England and Wales by following the SRA's SQE route to qualification. Qualified lawyers are exempt from the two-year Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) requirement of the SQE route.
Overseas qualified lawyers do not need to undertake any QWE as long as they have completed their SQE assessments, however, they are advised to undertake QWE type roles while studying to boost their employability.

What are the new pathways to qualification?

To qualify and practice as a solicitor, there is a new route to qualification, the SQE route, which will assess anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor through two centralised assessments overseen by the SRA — SQE1 and SQE2. Functional legal knowledge will be determined in the first set of assessments (SQE1), with practical legal skills and knowledge examined in the second (SQE2).

DID YOU KNOW? Candidates can use any paralegal work as QWE provided it meets the SRA criteria of providing real-life (not simulated) legal services, covers at least two SRA competences and can be confirmed by a solicitor or COLP.
Trainees qualifying via the SQE pathway can either do a 2-year training contract-style QWE role or make up 2 years of QWE in blocks of different lengths and with up to 4 different organisations.

What does the candidate journey to qualification look like now?

The new system replaces the current training requirements of a university postgraduate academic course (the “Legal Practice Course” or LPC) followed by a two-year regulated period of recognised training (the “training contract”). In the future aspiring solicitors will now simply need to take the SRA-administered SQE assessments and gain two years of practical Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) alongside their level 6 qualification. They can do QWE when it suits them and with up to 4 different employers.

We advise people to commence their QWE while they are studying for their SQE assessments as they will complement each other and candidates are assessed on issues that come up in QWE.
Employers offering LPC-linked training contracts must be authorised to take trainees by the SRA
Those still supporting trainees via the LPC route must fulfill various regulatory requirements such as appointing a Training Principal, making a commitment to retain their trainees for the full period of recognised training and they must pay for their trainees to undertake a short Professional Skills Course (PSC) if continuing to offer LPC-linked training contracts.

Is the old system of qualification still a valid route to qualification?

The LPC training regime remains a valid route for qualification until 31 December 2032 and will run in tandem with the new system until then, as long as LPC courses remain available.

During this period, employers offering this route must provide trainee solicitors with the opportunity to experience specific aspects of legal practice, and ensure they are properly supervised.
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How is the new system a game changer for employers?

The legal profession is evolving and these new pathways to qualification will ensure employers are not only accessing a diverse pool of talented candidates for their paralegal and trainee opportunities but also helping trainees gain valuable QWE and unlock their future as qualified solicitors.

Register as an employer today and become one of our LawQWE champions. Contact the LawQWE team at for more information.


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