Key changes to qualifying as a lawyer in London: QLTS vs SQE

Cameron Gardiner

Cameron Gardiner, Senior Consultant

In Autumn 2021, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), will replace the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), and forever change how you qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales.

The main difference between the two examinations is that the SQE will be a single, rigorous assessment, qualifying people regardless of their background and not just foreign lawyers like the QLTS. This means all aspiring solicitors, including UK university law graduates, non-graduates, apprentices, legal executives, paralegals, and qualified foreign lawyers, will sit the SQE exam.

Key changes to qualifying as a lawyer in London: QLTS vs SQE

The introduction of the SQE is expected to drive up international applications to levels not seen in many years. – QLTSchool

Like the QLTS, the SQE will be divided into two different sections, and the first section must be passed before the second attempt.

Assessment Breakdown:

  • Part 1 – Functioning Legal Knowledge Assessments
  • Part 2 – Practical Legal Skills Assessments
  • The SQE also has two different parts to complete in both stages

The number of overall hours of testing for the SQE is significantly higher than that of the QLTS (approx. 6 hours more).

Stage 1 of the SQE will focus on assessing the application of functioning legal knowledge required for effective practice, consisting of 360 questions, divided into two assessments of 180 questions each. This will run across two separate days for a total of 10 hours and 12 minutes.

Stage 2 of the SQE assesses six different skills, five legal practice areas, has 16 assessments and takes 13 hours and 45 minutes.

Learn more about the QLTS syllabus and gather learning materials here.

With the QLTS, there is no time frame for both parts to be completed, but with the SQE, you have three attempts to complete both stages within a six year period.

Key changes to qualifying as a lawyer in London: QLTS vs SQE

Other Important Exam Details:

– Fees and Locations

SQE Stage 1 will be available at various international centres, but SQE Stage 2 will initially only be available in England and Wales. The total fee for taking both SQE assessments will be £3,980: SQE1 – £1,558 and SQE2 – £2,422. VAT is not applicable.

– Training

As for training, QLTS School will be offering three-course packages for each of SQE1 and SQE2 assessments, each with different features and modules. Course fees range between £1,500 – £2,400 for SQE1 and between £1,500 – £2,500 for SQE2.

– Graduates

The SQE requires graduate students who are not qualified lawyers in another jurisdiction to complete a two-year Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) requirement. Foreign qualified lawyers are exempt from the QWE.

Transition Arrangements

QLTS candidates who have passed stage one but not stage two before 1st September 2021 will have options to continue onto stage two of either the QLTs or the SQE. The Solicitors Regulation Authority will determine this. Read more here.

Information on the transition from the QLTS to SQE is still forthcoming, stay up to date and learn about what options you have for your personal situation here.

If you are a foreign lawyer and want to learn more about your options in London, get in touch today on:

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– A Lincoln
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