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Solicitors Qualifying Examination

What is the SQE?

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is the new way of qualifying to be a solicitor. The SQE is a new, centralised assessment which can be taken in order to qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales. In time, it will replace the current way that you qualify – the Legal Practice Course (LPC). From September 2021, there will be a transitional period where you will be able to choose whether to qualify through the LPC or the SQE. We will be offering SQE training courses from September 2022 (subject to validation) while continuing to offer our LPC course as a route to qualification for the next few years.

Dr Victoria Roper, Associate Professor at Northumbria University, answers crucial questions about the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination in the BBC's podcast series; Not All Lawyers Have Law Degrees.

Qualifying work experience

Under the current system after the LPC you undertake a training contract, this is usually at one firm and is highly regulated. At the end of the training contract you will be qualified as a solicitor (subject to suitability and character checks).

Qualifying work experience (QWE) under the SQE route is slightly different. It can be carried out at up to four providers and does not have to be undertaken at a law firm. This means that any time where you have worked as a paralegal, or in a law clinic or placement could be counted towards your QWE. It must be signed off by a solicitor.

What does the SQE look like

The new regime slightly differs compared to the current route. You need to have a degree (or equivalent) and then pass two Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) assessment stages which are created and marked centrally by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The first stage of assessment (SQE 1) consists of two papers made up of 180 multiple choice questions per paper. This assessment will cover legal knowledge and practical elements. This assessment must be passed before moving onto the second stage of assessment. The second assessment stage (SQE 2) will consist of 16 practical assessment covering skills you will need in practice. You will also need to carry out two years of qualifying work experience (QWE), however, unlike the training contract, this can be undertaken with up to four different legal providers. The QWE can be carried out before, during or after the SQE assessments.

SQE 1 – 2 papers each of 180 questions. Both papers must be sat in the same assessment sitting. The sittings for this assessment take place in July and January, although more sittings may be added by the SRA.

SQE 2 – 16 practical assessments – 12 written, 4 oral. All must be taken together. The sittings for these assessments begin in April 2022, and are likely to increase to four sittings per year from 2024.

Fees

The total SRA fee for the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is £3,980.

SQE1 - £1,558

SQE2 - £2,422

Resits

You are required to pay the fees detailed below to resit your exams.

SQE1

  • You will pay a fee of £779 to retake the exam if you fail FLK1 OR FLK2.
  • You will need to pay the full SQE1 fee of £1,558 to resit both exams if you fail FLK1 AND FLK2.
  • You can have 3 attempts within a six-year period.

SQE2

  • You will be required to pay the full fee of £2,422 and resit the exams if you fail SQE2.

All fees are exempt of VAT.

Northumbria SQE Provision

Northumbria's provision is designed in consultation with employers to ensure that you are well-prepared for practice in a rapidly changing legal environment. We will continue to collaborate with our partners to ensure that we provide the high-quality training needed to prepare learners for the SQE assessments.

Although a training course is not prescribed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority the SQE is a demanding and high-stakes assessment and Northumbria’s state-of-the-art SQE courses are designed with you in mind to enable you both pass the SQE and to prepare you for practice as a solicitor.

The course will be full-time, on-campus over three semesters. In the first and second semester, you will study the 5 core areas covered on the SQE 1 assessment as follows:

  • Business Law & Practice
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property Law & Practice
  • Wills & Administration of Estates
  • Criminal Law & Practice

The remaining modules consist of a legal research module which will provide the skills and knowledge needed in order to complete a research dissertation. You will complete this over the course of the year, with the final write-up and hand-in in semester 3.

LLM in Professional Legal Practice (subject to validation)

SEMESTER 1

  • BLP (SQE 1) 20 Credits
  • Dispute resolution (SQE 1) 20 Credits
  • Legal research 20 Credits

SEMESTER 2

  • PLP (SQE 1) 20 Credits
  • Wills & Administration of Estates (SQE 1) 20 Credits
  • Criminal law and practice (SQE 1) 20 Credits

SEMESTER 3

  • Hand in of LLM dissertation (Year Long) 60 Credits

There will also be additional legal knowledge support/wrap around packages relating to core legal knowledge provided through online podcasts and tests underpinning the taught practical modules. These support packages will cover all the legal elements of the SQE allowing you to supplement the legal knowledge that you already have. These online learning materials will help with learning and online multiple choice tests to replicate and prepare for the SQE assessment. The series of online legal knowledge support packages will allow you to revise relevant legal areas, and to ensure that you have covered all areas by the SQE which may not have been addressed in your undergraduate law degree. This will provide flexibility in your learning and tailor your efforts to what you need to do to achieve in this area.

The teaching will be carried out by high-quality teaching staff who are not only experienced teachers but are also experienced legal practitioners. There is also the opportunity for you to obtain experience with volunteering outside of legal support agencies, providing the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills that you develop through the course. The programme will not only prepare you for the SQE 1 assessment but will also provide employment ready skills so you are ready for practice and set the framework for your SQE 2 assessment.

You will be supported throughout the course through face to face teaching, support packages, and by your personal tutor who will be able to offer advice and support throughout the demanding programme. Careers advice is provided by our dedicated careers support team and through the annual law and business fair which takes place in November.

SQE 1 Assessment

The SQE 1 assessment is a demanding assessment covering a multitude of different areas including testing complex legal knowledge over the key areas:

  • Contract law
  • Tort law
  • Legal system of England and Wales
  • Public Law
  • EU Law
  • Land law
  • Trusts
  • Criminal law

It also tests practice knowledge in:

  • Business
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property
  • Wills
  • Crime

In order to pass the SQE 1 you will need to have detailed and in-depth knowledge of these areas. The dissertation will allow you to study an area of interest in greater depth alongside an experienced academic tutor, as you work towards your LLM qualification.

SQE 2 Assessments

The SQE 2 will be assessed by 16 written and oral simulated tasks over five half days. The six practical legal skills are:

  • Client Interviewing and Attendance Note / Legal Analysis;
  • Advocacy;
  • Case and Matter Analysis;
  • Legal Research;
  • Legal Writing;
  • Legal Drafting.

They will be assessed within five contexts, each of which will be underpinned by Functioning Legal Knowledge. The five contexts are:

  • Criminal Litigation;
  • Dispute Resolution;
  • Property Practice;
  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice; and
  • Business Organisations, Rules and Procedures.

In order to pass the SQE 2, you will need to have the ability to demonstrate your practical legal skills within the relevant contexts.

We will be offering SQE 2 training from 2023 and continue to provide the training required by the current route to qualification, the Professional Skills Course.

Students without a law degree

Students without a law degree but with a degree in another discipline are permitted to take the SQE assessment without any preparation, however due to the level of legal knowledge required for the assessment students would be best advised to undertake a law course, such as our Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), in order to perform at their best in the assessment. After the SQE 1 pilot, Kaplan (the assessment provider) and the SRA reported that initial indications were that educational factors (such as completing the GDL) were key predictors of success in the SQE.

To be notified for when our courses are available for applications. Please leave your details here.

For further information about any of our postgraduate law courses please email nu.postgraduate@northumbria.ac.uk

SQE Explained

Join us for a virtual open day here at Northumbria University

Meet our esteemed academics, chat with current students and take part in virtual talks on the subjects that you are interested in.


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