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5 top tips to support your SQE candidates with Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) submissions

As the legal profession welcomes the next generation of solicitors via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), employers are adapting to new qualifying work experience (QWE) pathways for their teams. So what do you need to know?

LawQWE and BARBRI have put their expert heads together with 5 tips every employer needs to support their SQE candidates. 

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#1 It's confirming, not authorising

As an employer, you confirm a candidate's legal work experience, validating that they worked under your supervision. You are not responsible for signing them off as competent or authorising them to become qualified. From the SRA’s perspective, competency is demonstrated through successfully passing both parts of the SQE. Remember: you confirm their QWE, not sign off on their competence or qualification.

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#2 The candidate is responsible for gathering and submitting QWE evidence

You should not be running around gathering information, this is the role of the candidate. There are various helpful guides and templates available to make the process easier from the SRA at https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/sqe/qualifying-work-experience-employers/

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#3 To confirm QWE, the candidate's supervisor must be a qualified solicitor or COLP

You must always review and consider if a current or former employee wants their QWE confirmed. If you do not have an eligible confirmer within the organisation, you can suggest an external confirmer's service to the employee. Ensure you inform the employee's supervisor of the external confirmer's verification process.

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#4 It is not mandatory to provide a two-year full-time placement to make it QWE-eligible

Whilst two year training contracts remain QWE-eligible, you also have the flexibility to offer more versatile posts. Whether it is part-time, full-time, voluntary, paid, long or short, any time and any hours will count towards the overall two-year full-time requirement. For instance, if you have to fill a Fixed-Term Contract position for 6-12 months, these job postings are an excellent opportunity to show your commitment to supporting the next generation of solicitors by advertising them as ‘QWE-eligible’ or ‘confirmed QWE guarantee.'

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#5 Develop your own QWE playbook

The SRA has set the rules, but it is possible to create your own QWE playbook to go the extra mile and stay competitive locally. This will help you attract the best future talent for your firm. One approach could be to design clear entry routes and progression maps through your firm that align with your firm's current structure, L&D programmes, and the SQE exam timetable. For instance, you can set out what an entry-level paralegal needs to achieve before they can apply for an NQ position in your firm.

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Bonus tip

It's important to manage expectations upfront when it comes to confirming QWE and whether you are able to take someone on as a Newly Qualified solicitor after they complete the SQE process. It's best to be clear and transparent to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.

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HOLD THE DATE: 5 July 2024

Legal Professional Education and Training One Day Conference in London "Supporting aspiring lawyers from learning to practice" The event is designed for employers in legal services and those working in legal education or training. It will bring together law firms, ALSPs, universities, and professional legal education providers to discuss the changing legal education market and consider the future training needs of the profession.

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For advice and guidance about QWE, please contact employers@lawqwe.com to speak with the @LawQWE team directly for support. 

Reach out to BARBRI at businessdev@barbri.com to explore how they can support your team on SQE.