From education to employment

SQE: Qualifying work experience will offer trainees greater flexibility

Ahead of the 1 September launch of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), the Law Society (@TheLawSociety) has today unveiled guidance to answer common queries for law firms and organisations on qualifying work experience (QWE) for trainee solicitors.

Under the SQE, candidates must complete two years QWE in order to qualify as a solicitor, as well as passing two sets of exams – SQE1 and SQE2. SQE1 focuses on functional legal knowledge and SQE2 assesses the candidates’ practical legal skills. Aspiring solicitors currently commonly complete a law degree, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and two years of work-based training.

QWE is an important opportunity for candidates to gain valuable experience and develop necessary skills, as well as demonstrating their commitment to the profession, which will be invaluable when seeking future employment. Candidates can also use their QWE to prepare for the SQE2 assessment through lived experience.

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said:

“Our new guidance is intended to answer the pressing questions and concerns that QWE providers may have ahead of the SQE launching in September.

“All firms should be aware of the requirements of QWE, as it’s possible for paralegals and others in similar roles to accrue QWE under the new arrangements. It is no longer only for those in formal training programmes.

“QWE has the potential to be far more flexible than the current arrangements, with candidates able to undertake up to four placements with different firms to build the required two years’ experience.

“Conversely, aspiring solicitors should think carefully about what they want to get out of their QWE and how they can best show a real commitment to the profession.

“If their academic studies haven’t prepared them to work in the area of legal practice they’d like to work in – such as legal aid – then it will be important for them to gain exposure to this type of work during QWE.

“We hope this guidance will be a useful tool for the profession as it looks to mark the biggest change to how aspiring solicitors can enter the profession for almost 30 years when the SQE launches in September.”

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