Updated 25 March 2022
A qualified lawyer is someone who has a legal professional qualification which allows them to practise in the UK or an international jurisdiction.
The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) has now been replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).
What you need to become a solicitor of England and Wales
Qualified lawyers need to do the following:
- have a degree that is the same level as a UK degree, or other qualification and/or experience that is equivalent to this
- pass the SQE assessment which is made up of two parts:
- meet our character and suitability requirements.
Qualified lawyers do not need qualifying work experience
Unlike other aspiring solicitors, qualified lawyers do not need qualifying work experience to qualify.
However, we may take into account their work experience when considering an application for an SQE assessment exemption.
Applying for an SQE assessment exemption
Qualified lawyers can apply for exemptions from the SQE assessments based on their qualifications and/or experience.
We have already given some legal qualifications an agreed exemption and all lawyers who have these qualifications can apply for the exemption.
If a qualification doesn't have an agreed exemption, a lawyer may want to apply for an individual one.
If someone is granted an exemption from SQE2, they may also have to demonstrate their English or Welsh language competence.
If you are a UK lawyer
Find out your steps to admission if you are a:
- Barrister of England and Wales (who has completed pupillage)
- CILEx Practitioner or Chartered Legal Executive
- Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland solicitor
- Scottish solicitor
Our approach to qualified lawyers
Find out more about principles and requirements for qualified lawyers.
Pathways to qualification
Find your pathway to qualification and what you need to do next.
Qualified lawyers in jurisdictions where there is political unrest, for example, Ukraine, Syria or Afghanistan, may want to come to England and Wales to practise law. We welcome applications for admission from lawyers from these jurisdictions and are happy to discuss an individual's circumstances.
We recognise that access to certain documentation or evidence, such as a certificate of good standing, can be difficult, but alternative documentation can be used to support an application. We make our decisions on a case-by-case basis, using the available evidence.
There are also a number of different ways of practising in England and Wales, in addition to becoming a solicitor.
Please contact our Education team so we can provide more detail and arrange to discuss your situation, if that would be helpful.