A school and college
guide to the new
process for students
wishing to qualify as
How do you become a solicitor?
From September 2021 there is a new way to
become a solicitor in the UK. For context, the
current route requires students to:
1. Complete a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) or
non-law degree followed by a conversion course
such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
2. Pass the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
3. Complete a 2-year training contract
4. Apply to be admitted as a solicitor
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) is now
changing this route by introducing the Solicitors
Qualifying Examination (SQE).
What is the SQE and what does the SQE route to qualify as a solicitor involve?
One of the most notable changes is that to
become a solicitor you will not now have to pass
a prescribed course, instead you will have to
pass a set of exams - SQE. A student who holds
an undergraduate degree in any subject can take
these exams, in theory straight after graduating.
However, whether there will be many students
who decide to self-teach and risk the near £4,000
cost of sitting these exams without any formal
preparation course is yet to be seen.
Providers, like The University of Law, will continue
to offer courses to students who want to become
a solicitor to help them prepare for SQE and build
the skills they will need to be successful in their
Another big change is the removal of the training
contract. This is now replaced with 2 years of
Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). Unlike the
training contract, QWE can be accrued before,
during or after SQE assessments are taken. It
can also be gathered from up to four different
organisations. Just like the removal of the need
to have a QLD or GDL before sitting SQE, the
introduction of QWE aims to increase flexibility
and widen access to the profession.
When will the new changes to quality as a solicitor havce an impact on your students?
SQE will be introduced in September 2021.
However, there will be some transitional
arrangements as we move from the old system to
Crucially for new undergraduate students - anyone
who has accepted an offer for a place on a QLD
before 1 September 2021 (with the course starting
no later than 31 December 2021) will be able to
choose whether they follow the old LPC route or
new SQE route.
Any students starting university in September
2022 will have to follow the SQE route.
Hopefully, that whistle stop tour has shown you
two things: the path your students need to follow
to become a solicitor and how much the legal
sector loves an acronym!