SQE prep for UK law graduates

Qualifying as solicitor through the LPC route

Many people who wish to develop a legal career start their journey by obtaining a graduate law degree (LLB). Until the SQE, this was known as the start of the traditional route for qualification – completing a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) in one of the 100+ institutions offering this degree in the UK, or a non-qualifying law degree followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), then completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is the vocational stage of training, and finally a two-year training contract at a law firm prior to qualification.

After the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in 2021, law graduates no longer need to complete the LPC as a pre-requisite. Candidates who did not study law, do not need to complete the GDL course.

The LPC route is expensive and does not guarantee that law and non-law graduates will secure a training contract. Despite this, students continued to invest heavily in recent years in taking the LPC. Moreover, the lack of a common basis for assessing the quality of output from the +100 institutions which offered the LPC, or at the end of the training contract, was a cause of increasing concern in the legal sector.

The abolition (or phasing out) of the LPC saves substantial time and costs for anyone looking to become a solicitor, while at the same time the introduction of a centralised assessment such as the SQE ensures that all aspiring solicitors, no matter what institution they attended or pathway they took, are assessed against the same high standard of competence.

Your LLB or GDL studies do not prepare you to pass the SQE

If you are a law student and have completed, or are about to complete, your LLB degree in your university, or your GDL conversion course, you are most likely thinking about your next step, and that is how to prepare and pass SQE1.

Depending on the curriculum of your university, your LLB degree studies (or GDL course) may have focused on academic and theoretical aspects of the law, without any practical element. However, SQE1 assesses legal knowledge in a practical context – i.e., the examination tests a combination of substantive (black-letter law) and procedural law.

You therefore must ensure you fill-in this gap in your legal knowledge, which you have obtained in your law degree studies, to prepare for the SQE the right way.

The undergraduate Qualifying Law Degree (or GDL course) has always offered a high-level, wide-ranging, and theoretical introduction to law and the study of law, usually over a number of years. Students were not expected to pass examinations which assessed in detail all law they had learnt over those years, but instead assessed them after finishing a series of modules. This means law learnt in the first semester of a student’s first year may well have been forgotten by the time they took their final exams in their second, third, or fourth year.

Further, in the absence of any voluntary extracurricular activities such as debating, mooting or legal research or writing competitions, the degree itself does not offer and focus or training in the application of the law or the development of the practical ‘lawyering’ skills expected of a newly-qualified solicitor, which was why the vocational LPC was required as a pre-requisite to a training contract and then qualification.

For these reasons, attempting the SQE with just a law degree and no consolidated preparation course focused exclusively on passing the constituent stages of the SQE will not help graduate law students, as they lack the depth and recent knowledge of the wide corpus of English law, together with missing the development and training in practical legal skills, on which they are assessed in one window to a very high professional standard.

We cannot emphasise this enough: even though the LPC is no longer compulsory, if you are looking to qualify via the SQE you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage if you attempt the assessment purely off the knowledge obtained from your undergraduate law degree.

In fact, you will find it very much in your interest to prepare with a recent and consolidated preparation course with a single focus on passing all aspects of the SQE and which contains the required legal knowledge and depth of application of the law together with the training and development of practical legal skills on which you are assessed as part of the SQE, with multiple opportunities to practice and receive detailed feedback from experts before you try the real thing.

QLTS School’s SQE preparation courses for LLB or GDL graduates

If you are a law graduate (whether it is an LLB or a joint studies degree, such as Law with Accounting), hold a postgraduate diploma in law, or completed the GDL, you are well-placed to start your preparation for the SQE with our preparation courses.

We strongly recommend that you do not attempt the SQE straight out of university or the GDL, with no additional preparation.

This is because the SQE is a professional qualifying exam. This means that it necessarily places exacting demands on candidates and assesses them at a significantly higher standard than undergraduates, because those who pass it will then go on to become English solicitors and be entrusted with the rights and privileges that come with this professional standing. In some cases, solicitors may even be asked to advise on matters, which in some cases can literally be a matter of life or death. The SQE assessment therefore is demanding and challenging, expecting more out of candidates than undergraduate-level knowledge and assessment performance.

Further, in some cases your knowledge may be several years out of date; the SQE assesses your legal knowledge, application and skills as to the law as it currently stands.

Our SQE preparation courses will help you bridge the gap between the subjects you studied at the undergraduate level and on which you may be hazy, and the SRA requirements in the SQE assessment which encompass a wide range of legal practice areas and practical skills.

The course material will be provided to you in a comprehensive but accessible manner, both in hard copy and online formats to help you embed and recall your learning to the required standard under exam conditions.

You will also receive access to SQE mock exams which simulate real exam conditions, their style and format, and are essential for success in an SQE-type examination, where a strong examination technique is required in addition to a strong knowledge of English law, and can make the difference between passing and failing.

We will help you prepare and pass the SQE exams.

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