Law society

SQE one year later | The bar

Today marks one year since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), marking the biggest change in the way aspiring lawyers can enter the profession in nearly 30 years .

“The SQE has now been running for a year,” said Law Society of England and Wales President I. Stephanie Boyce.

“SQE preparation courses are underway and the first SQE1 and SQE2 assessments have been carried out.

“We are currently in the transition phase, moving from the old system to the SQE.

“It is important that aspiring lawyers are aware of the situation when choosing the path they use to qualify and that employers understand how to better support those they employ.

“The profession must in particular be aware of the changes made by the SQE around qualifying internships (QWE). This replaces the “training contract”, but can also allow an unqualified person working in the provision of legal services to accumulate time towards their future qualification as a lawyer.

“To help the profession, we have produced guidance on QWE and QWE for paralegals (which covers all unqualified people working in the provision of legal services).

“We have also published information on the funding available for the different routes that can be taken for SQE, including apprenticeships, which some employers are implementing as a good way to train their staff.

“We understand that there have been some teething problems with the implementation of the SQE and we will continue to monitor this on behalf of our members.

In January, the SRA released its first SQE1 results, which indicate whether the SQE is having the desired effect of improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

65% of white applicants passed, compared to 44% of black, Asian and minority ethnic people.*

The latest Legal Practice Course data showed that 65% of white students passed, compared to 52% of Asian/British students and 39% of black students. **

I. Stephanie Boyce added, “We continue to be concerned about the achievement gap differences between white and black, Asian and minority ethnic students.

“The SRA has commissioned extensive research, which should help to understand the causes of the differences in obtaining legal qualifications and whether and why the situation is getting worse or better with the move to SQE.

Notes to Editors

• * Figures taken from the SRA November 2021 SQE1 statistical report

• ** Figures taken from the SRA Education and Training Authorization and Monitoring Activity Report September 2019 – August 2020

• Find out about the provisions of the SQE transitional phase

• Read our advice on QWE

• Read our tips on QWE for paralegals

• Find out more about the SQE

• Read information from the SRA on the SQE

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Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928