Becoming a lawyer is the UK is not a quick process by any means. It involves dedication, years of academic study and ongoing professional development. It’s a highly respected profession, so if you are considering a career in law, you may want to think about how you would deal with various elements of the job. From working alongside clients, public speaking, research to planning legal strategies and more, there’s a varied skillset that’s required to excel in this field. If you’ve already passed the consideration stage – congratulations. So now, you want to know how you can get qualified to practice law in England and Wales? Well, that very much depends on whether you want to progress via the current route or take on the new route with the Solicitor’s Qualifying Exam (SQE). Let us explain.
The current route
Start with A-Levels
To undertake a law degree at university, you’ll need to achieve at least three A levels with high grades. If you’re aiming for a top law school, three A* or A grades will be your target. Those looking to study law also typically opt for more ‘traditional’ subjects including English, Maths, History or Geography which can help to develop your writing skills, as well as analytical or problem-solving capabilities.
Secure an undergraduate degree
Whether you choose to take a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree, you’ll need to qualify as an undergraduate in your subject of choice to progress your career in law via this route. If you opt for a BA or BSc (a degree unrelated to law), you’ll need to take a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before you can start the next stage, the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Pass the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
Next is the LPC, a one-year postgraduate course that will help you to prepare for a professional career in law. To get onto this course, you’ll typically be expected to hold a 2:1 degree or above, as well as a good level of English language and academic references.
Train and finish the Professional Skills Course (PSC)
Finally – you will need to secure a training contract with a law firm where you will be a trainee for two years whilst completing the Professional Skills Course (PSC). This involves a series of core and elective training modules (currently delivered by BARBRI Altior) and several exams which need to be completed before official qualification. You can then apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for admission to the roll of solicitors to officially become a lawyer.
The new route to qualification
But that’s all about to change…have you heard of SQE?
The route to qualification is changing from September 2021 with the highly anticipated introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). This is an entirely new way of testing and will see the GDP, LPC and PSC being phased out and replaced by this ‘super exam’. It will test legal knowledge and skills through multiple-choice formats and legal skills assessment in two stages; SQE1 and SQE2.
SQE1 is a computer-based exam which will test your Functional Legal Knowledge through multiple-choice questions – 360 questions to be exact. On the other hand, SQE2 will consist of practical legal assessments including both oral (client interview and advocacy) and written skills (case and matter analysis, legal research, legal writing and legal drafting). Plus, candidates must complete a minimum period of Qualifying Legal Work Experience. The SRA requires that candidates must have two years of full-time legal experience in up to four positions in any variety of organisation. However, this can be taken before, during or after completing the SQE1 and SQE2 exams. The choice is very much down to the individual.
With SQE Prep courses starting from January 2021 ahead of the inaugural SQE1 assessment in November 2021, law graduates and qualified overseas lawyers seeking dual qualification are now able to take advantage of this new legal qualification model. It’s worth noting that there will be a transitionary period lasting up to 2032. However, our insights tell us that many firms and individuals are looking to be early adopters, planning their enrolments to BARBRI’s 40-week SQE Prep course starting in January 2021.
If you’d like to learn more about the SQE and to be one of the first to enrol, click here>>>