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The SQE route to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales

Everything you need to know about SQE training and practising as a solicitor

The route to becoming a solicitor is changing

The SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) is the new route to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales, whether you’re a UK or foreign candidate.

The shift from the traditional Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to the new SQE route is expected to be fully implemented by the close of 2032.

What does a solicitor do after qualifying through the SQE?

Solicitors are legal professionals who are qualified to practise the law of England and Wales, often having navigated through the SQE to obtain their qualification.

They offer legal services and advice to various clients, including companies and individuals, in the UK and abroad.

Working as a solicitor involves much problem-solving and project management. A competent solicitor aids clients in identifying issues. They then devise solutions that align with English law.

You can specialise in different law areas after completing the SQE. Solicitors often choose one or two areas to master. Various law firms are available for employment, ranging from single-solicitor practices to large, globally present firms.

Additionally, you could work in-house at various companies, work for the government or go into the Crown Prosecution Service.

Because of the framework that governs the solicitor profession, there are several “reserved activities” that only qualified solicitors can undertake. These include things like preparing documents in court and drafting trust deeds that dispose of capital.

Is a career as a solicitor right for me post-SQE?

Embarking on a career as a solicitor, starting with the SQE, can be demanding but it’s also immensely rewarding. Life as a solicitor often moves at a fast pace, so you’ll need the ability to work quickly.

There are a few key skills that are important to have as a solicitor:

  • Communication – you’ll need to liaise with a variety of different parties to handle matters for your clients.
  • Flexibility – you’ll need to be able to adapt to new situations and information.
  • Integrity – solicitors must uphold a specific code of conduct and set of professional principles and standards.
  • Strong work ethic – you’ll need a commitment to resolving tough issues for your clients in their time of need.
  • Intellectual ability – problem-solving is a vital part of a solicitor’s role, often honed during SQE preparation and examination, so you need to be able to think quickly and methodically.
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How do I qualify as a solicitor with SQE?

Before you can work as a solicitor in England and Wales, you need to qualify and be admitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA is the regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales.

Anyone who wants to become a solicitor in England and Wales must pass the SQE, which stands for Solicitors Qualifying Examination, regardless of the path they’ve taken to qualification.

The SRA developed the SQE to test aspiring solicitors on their legal knowledge, practical skills, and analytical abilities. It has two stages:

  • SQE1 – multiple-choice assessments that test for functioning legal knowledge (FLK)
  • SQE2 – written and oral assessments that test for practical legal skills

SQE – the route to qualify as a solicitor

To qualify through the SQE route you must:


Hold a dgree (in law or another subject) or equivalent


Complete two years’ qualifying work experience (QWE)

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Pass the two stages of the SQE assessment

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Meet the SRA character and suitability requirements

You don’t need to have a degree or complete QWE before taking the SQE exams (but you’ll need to pass SQE1 before SQE2). The character and suitability test is checked at the time you’ll apply for admission.

Some foreign lawyers may be eligible for an SQE2 exemption. UK law graduates take the exact same assessment as non-law graduates or lawyers who qualified abroad. However, depending on your level of knowledge and background, your preparation might look different.

Law Graduate or Student

The traditional route with an LLB degree or GDL


Qualify without undertaking a University degree

Foreign Qualified Lawyer

Enhance your professional profile and marketability

Non-Law Graduate

Take the exam and qualify like any other law graduate


Gain an official qualification, advance your career

Chartered Legal Executive

‘Upgrade’ your lawyering skills and qualifications

More on the SQE

Want to learn more about the SQE? Watch our video to get an in-depth look at the assessment.

Or, read more to get a quick grasp on the basic elements, structure, and style of the SQE exams. Plus, we’ll tell you how to pass first time.

A note on QLTS

In 2021, the SRA replaced a slightly different route to qualification for foreign qualified lawyers: QLTS. Find out more about the differences between the SQE and QLTS.

What people say

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