The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced that it has been given the go ahead by the Legal Services Board (LSB) to introduced the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) from 1 September 2021.
The decision of the LSB follows a nine-year process of consultation on solicitors’ training. During the last 18 month the SRA have worked with its assessment provider, Kaplan, to refine the detail of the assessments through piloting, engagement, expert input and independent review involving 26,000 interactions with interested parties, including around 200 meetings, events and webinars.
The focus of the SRA is now on preparing to run the first assessments with the first sittings for SQE1 taking place in November 2021 and the first SQE2 sittings in April 2022.
The SRA state that over the course of the coming weeks they will publish more resources, including further information on assessment logistics, guidance on qualifying work experience and sample questions for SQE2. They will also publish a timeline of what information will be made available to help everyone understand the new assessments.
The SRA have said that they will be running a day-long SQE virtual conference, targeted at training providers, on 15 December, and an SQE session for law firms at their compliance conference. They have also launched “Career in Law” on Instagram to help aspiring solicitors understand what the SQE means for them.
Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA, said:
“We welcome the LSB’s decision. The SQE will provide assurance that all aspiring solicitors meet consistent, high standards at point of entry to the profession. It will also open up new and diverse routes to qualification.
“Our application and the decision notice itself show just how much work over very many years has gone into making sure the SQE is a world class, rigorous assessment.”
Those who qualify under the SQE will need to:
- have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or experience);
- meet the character and suitability requirements;
- gain two years’ qualifying work experience; and
- pass two stages of SQE assessment: SQE1 will test candidates’ functioning legal knowledge of the law of England and Wales, while SQE2 will test a combination of practical legal skills and knowledge.
The SQE transitional period will enable those who have begun the process of qualifying under the current Legal Practice Course training route to finish under that route, or choose to take the SQE.