Peter Lyons attended an SRA conference in Birmingham last December. Here is his report.

This article begins with an apology. Sorry for all the acronyms.

Within 2 years a massive change is planned for England and Wales which will affect the training and qualification of solicitors. The traditional routes to qualifying will go and will be replaced by 2 examinations called the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and a compulsory 2- year period of work experience.

The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) will be history after 2020. The last intake for the traditional route will be August 2020.

From then those wishing to be solicitors must: 1. Have a degree or equivalent; 2. Pass both SQE’s (1 and 2); Have no fewer than 2 years’ work experience and 4. Satisfy the SRA about their character and suitability to practise as a lawyer. 

Candidates may be signed off as satisfactory by the law firm’s compliance officer or another solicitor with requisite knowledge of the candidate.

At this stage there is no requirement that these milestones are passed chronologically though you must pass SQE 1 before you attempt SQE 2.

The SRA will advise candidates that they must acquire substantial work experience before they attempt SQE 2.

A candidate will be permitted to make 3 attempts on passing SQE 1 in 6 years. There will be no more that 2 attempts permitted in a year. 

The SQE’s will test: a. competence; b. knowledge and c. a threshold standard.

SQE 1 will test a candidate’s legal knowledge and some practical legal skills. It may be completed before the university degree is finished.

The subject areas for legal knowledge are: a. Conduct, public and administrative law and knowledge of Welsh and English legal systems; b. dispute resolution in contract and/or tort; c. property law and practice; d. business law and practice; e. wills and estates; f. criminal law and practice.

SQE 2, practical legal skills, are similar to the current Professional Skills Course and its electives.

The subject areas are: a. client interviewing; b. advocacy and persuasive oral communication; c. Case and matter analysis); d. legal research and written advice and e. written communications (legal drafting).

The assessments will be conducted by a single provider (probably a law school) but we will be able to train you for the assessments.

CPD Training already delivers intensive and popular in-house courses on all the subjects in SQE 2.

AuthorNicolas Gruszka