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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 applies to anyone with an undergraduate degree or level 6 qualification equivalent.

What are the entry points into the profession?

Apprenticeships start when candidates have completed their A levels or at the graduate level. The LPC route is now limited and only applicable to students 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.

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

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 length of paralegal work as QWE provided it meets the SRA criteria.
Candidates can either do a 2-year training contract or makeup 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 practical training period (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). They can do this when it suits them and with up to 4 different employers.

We advise candidates 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 training contracts must be authorised to take trainees by the SRA
The 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 Practice Skills Course.

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

The LPC training regime remains a valid route for qualification until 2030 and will run in tandem with the new system until then.

During this period, employers 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 them 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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