Find out if your legal background and qualifications mean you’re exempt from any part of the SQE process
The SQE assessment is the one route to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales. Candidates from both the UK and abroad need to complete the SQE exams and meet a set of requirements before qualifying:
However, there are some exceptions. Depending on your legal background and professional qualifications, you might be entitled to an exemption from one or more of the SQE exams.
You can only apply for an exemption for the whole of SQE1 FLK1 or SQE1 FLK2. To be granted an exemption you must prove that:
Very few people are given exemptions from SQE1 as there is a high threshold of knowledge and experience needed.
If you’ve got the same practice rights as a solicitor of England and Wales and at least two years of professional legal work experience (gained either as part of your qualification or post-qualification) you could be exempt from the whole of the SQE2 exam.
You’ll need to have one or more of these practising rights:
Lawyers who are qualified outside of the UK can apply for an exemption for either part of SQE1 (FLK1 or FLK2) or from SQE2 (or a combination). The reason being that their training, experience or qualifications act as an equivalent for SQE.
Generally, aspiring solicitors from the UK (with the exception of Scottish solicitors) cannot apply for any exemptions.
Lawyers who are qualified in certain jurisdictions and have at least two years of work experience are entitled to pre-agree exemptions and/or may apply for an individual exemption from SQE2, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
|Australia||Solicitor and/or Barrister (Australian legal practitioner)**||Yes|
|Belgium (the Flemish Bar)||Advocaat*||Yes|
|Canada (British Columbia)||Lawyer**||Yes|
|Denmark, Faroe Islands and Greenland||Advokat*||Yes|
|England and Wales||Barrister||No|
|England and Wales||CILEx Practitioner||No|
|England and Wales||Chartered Legal Executive||No|
|India (West Bengal)||Advocate**||Yes|
|Japan||Bengoshi (Attorney in Law)**||Yes|
|Korea||Attorney at Law**||Yes|
|Luxembourg||Avocat à la Cour*||Yes|
|Macau SAR, China||Lawyer**||Yes|
|Malaysia||Advocate and Solicitor**||Yes|
|New Zealand||Barrister and Solicitor**||Yes|
|Nigeria||Barrister and Solicitor**||Yes|
|Singapore||Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court**||Yes|
|Sri Lanka||Attorney at Law**||Yes|
|The People’s Republic of China||Lawyer**||Yes|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Attorney at Law**||Yes|
|USA all states||Attorney**||Yes|
* Applicants have an agreed exemption for SQE2 and meet the SRA criteria for pre-qualification experience.
** Applicants meet all the SRA criteria for an exemption from SQE2, except the pre-qualification work experience requirement. This means they can apply for an individual SQE2 exemption if they have at least two years’ legal work experience gained either as part of their qualification or after it (or a combination of these).
Even if your jurisdiction isn’t listed, you can still apply for an SQE exemption if your qualifications and personal experience could be seen as equivalent. To be granted an exemption, you must prove that your qualification/experience is equivalent to a whole part of the SQE assessment:
You’ll need to show that you don’t have any gaps in the legal qualification content of England and Wales which would mean you couldn’t practise safely.
The SQE has been designed to gradually phase out the LPC as a route to qualifications. During the transition period, LPC graduates are entitled to special arrangements.
As an alternative to completing the training contract, candidates who have completed the LPC may ask the SRA to recognise experience equivalent to the qualifying work experience (QWE) as a period of recognised training.
The request should be made on the My SRA account. This will then inform Kaplan that you do not need to sit SQE1 and you can book on to SQE2. You will then be exempt from SQE1 and need to successfully pass the SQE2 assessment. You will also be exempt from sitting the Professional Skills Course. You would then need to have proof of your LPC and two years of confirmed QWE when you apply for admission.
If you are not sure whether to complete the traditional LPC route or take SQE2 in combination with QWE, check out our article to help you decide which is right for you.
The SRA is the only body that can grant exemptions.
You need to apply for your exemptions through the SRA website before you book your SQE assessments. Each application is assessed individually and it can take several months to be processed. It’s best to apply for exemptions as soon as you start preparing for your SQE exams.
You can start preparing for SQE1 (if you’re a foreign lawyer) or SQE2 (if you’re an LPC graduate) and at the same apply for your exemption.
With more than a decade of experience helping foreign lawyers qualify through the QLTS exams, which have been the model for the SQE, we’re here to support you with a range of courses to help you pass your exam first time.