Route to Practice
The only academic requirement for qualifying via the SQE is that candidates must have a degree, or equivalent qualification. An equivalent qualification would be a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship or professional qualification. This can be in any discipline, so there is no longer a requirement that candidates have a QLD or GDL in order to qualify as solicitors.
However, candidates will need to have some legal training to develop the knowledge and skills required to sit and pass the SQE assessments. Candidates are able to choose the most suitable option for their individual needs, ranging from full or part-time master's courses, to online assessment preparation courses. As the SQE is relatively new, the range of options is expected to continue to increase over time.
Candidates must pass the SQE1 and SQE2 assessments before they can apply to be admitted as a solicitor. SQE1 must be passed before candidates can register for SQE2.
Candidates must also complete two years of QWE prior to qualification, which can be taken in up to four organisations. QWE is the requisite element of work-based learning for qualification via the SQE route, which replaces the requirement for a formal training contract under the LPC route. Work as a paralegal, or legal assistant, for example could count towards QWE, if it involves providing legal services in a manner which offers the opportunity to develop some or all of the competencies needed to practice as a solicitor, as prescribed by the SRA. QWE does not need to be taken in two continuous years and does not need to be taken after the SQE assessments have been passed. A year in legal practice as part of an undergraduate law degree, for example, could count towards QLD, provided that it provides the requisite experience and exposure.