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.
Our Kathryn Jack and BARBRI's Jonathan Worrell explain it all.
#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 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 qualification.
#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. (add link)
#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. Ensure you inform the employee's supervisor of the external confirmer's verification process.
#4 It is not mandatory to provide a two-year full-time placement to make it QWE-eligible
Whilst 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 as ‘QWE-eligible’ or ‘confirmed QWE guarantee.'
#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 that align with your firm's current structure, L&D programs, and the SQE exam timetable. For instance, you can set out what an entry-level paralegal needs to do before they can apply for an NQ position.
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 after completing SQE. It's best to be clear and transparent to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.