I employ solicitors

18 December 2017

This information is for law firms and organisations that employ solicitors. It will help you understand more about the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and how you can get ready for its introduction.

Qualifying as a solicitor through the SQE

Below is an example of how a graduate could qualify

Solicitors Qualifying Examination timeline

We know people need time to introduce new courses and recruitment processes, so we will not introduce the SQE before autumn 2021



Gemma Garen

Ellisons Solicitors

The SQE and my firm - retaining home grown talent.


Paul Clayton

Capital Law

The SQE and my firm - widening the talent pool


Crispin Passmore

Executive Director, Policy, SRA

What will the SQE mean for law firms?


Crispin Passmore

Executive Director, Policy, SRA

How will solicitors qualify in the future?

  • Think about how the SQE might impact on your recruitment and training. What, if any, changes do you need to make?
  • How might you support your current paralegals who wish to qualify via the SQE?
  • How will you explain to potential employees your approach to the SQE? How are you going to tell them?
  • Talk to other legal practitioners about what they are doing. One way you can do this is by joining our LinkedIn reference group.
  • If you are a firm, talk to your local university to understand what changes they are planning to make to their degree courses?

Why are we introducing the SQE?

The SQE will mean everyone meets the same consistently high standards through a common assessment for all would-be solicitors.

Crispin Passmore

Executive Director, Policy, SRA  

An effective competence statement for solicitors

We have published a Statement of Solicitor Competence which sets out what solicitors need to be able to do to perform their role effectively and which provides everyone with a clear indication of what they can expect from their solicitor.

This is supported by our Statement of Legal Knowledge and a Threshold Standard, both of which show the standards for practising and using the title of solicitor.

What we have done

News release: SRA announces new solicitors assessment to guarantee high standards

Consultation - A new route to qualification: New regulations

Consultation - A new route to qualification: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination

Consultation - Training for Tomorrow: assessing competence

General - I employ solicitors

The SQE is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, which will be brought in no earlier than autumn 2021.

In the future, all those wishing to qualify as a solicitor will need to pass the SQE, as well as holding a degree or equivalent qualification or experience, complete a two-year period of qualifying work experience and pass a suitability test.

SQE stage 1 primarily tests candidates' functioning legal knowledge. SQE stage 2 primarily tests practical legal skills.

SQE assessments timings are not yet available. When we know what the final examinations will look like, then we will be able to offer more detailed information.


No. However, to be admitted as a solicitor, you will need a degree (in any subject) or equivalent in addition to passing the SQE. ‘Equivalent’ means a qualification equivalent to a bachelor's or master's degree, such as:

  • a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship
  • a level 6 or 7 professional qualification

If you don't have an equivalent qualification, we may be able to count experience in the workplace as equivalent.

The provisional range for the total estimated cost of the two stages of assessment is between £3,000 - £4,500.

SQE 1 will primarily test the application of legal knowledge. The fees range estimate is £1,100 - £1,650. SQE 2 will test practical legal skills. The fee range estimate is £1,900 - £2,850. The costs are based on an estimated 35 hours of assessment, including written tests, computer-based assessments and simulations such as mock client interviews. These costs are indicative, as we continue our work with Kaplan to develop and test the assessments.

The eventual fee may be inside or outside this range. Factors that could change the costs include the length and amount of assessment and whether it is offered in both English and Welsh.

If training is included as part of a degree, then there will be no additional charge.


We would be delighted if you joined our LinkedIn group. You can use this group to discuss the developing ideas around the SQE and the new routes to qualification.

Later this year, we will also be consulting on the regulations that will underpin the introduction of the SQE and our approach to the admission of overseas lawyers and non-solicitor UK lawyers.

We are making changes to make sure the way solicitors qualify in the future is consistent, but that does not mean solicitors who qualified under the old system are not competent.

Currently, solicitors undertake extensive and thorough training before qualifying. When qualified, they must undertake a programme of continuing professional development to make sure that they are competent to perform their job roles and provide a proper standard of service to clients.

We will be inviting organisations to tender for the delivery of the SQE assessments later this year, and will provide more details then.


We will publish data about the performance of all education and training providers. These will not be league tables.



Those qualifying under the new system from autumn 2021 will need to do two years qualifying work experience, which is legal work that provides the opportunity to develop the prescribed competences for solicitors currently set out in the Statement of Solicitor Competence.

Qualifying work experience may be gained at no more than four separate organisations. At the end of each period of work experience, the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), if there is one at the firm, will need to confirm that that the trainee has completed this experience. If there is no COLP, a solicitor at the firm will submit confirmation of work experience. If the firm has no solicitor, another nominated solicitor can confirm the qualifying work experience has taken place.

No. Employers will be asked to confirm whether the employee has completed a specified period of work experience which provided the opportunities to develop the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence, but not whether the employee has actually achieved these competences to the required standard for effective practice. We will assess that through stage 2 of the SQE.


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