Questions and answers

September 2021

Qualifying work experience

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Any experience of providing legal services that helps a candidate to develop some or all of competences required to practise as a solicitor. This could include, for example, working in a law firm, as a paralegal, as a legal apprenticeship or part of a placement during a degree.

Yes, so long as it:

  • provides you with the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence
  • can be signed off by a solicitor (inside or outside your organisation) with direct knowledge of your work. If it they work externally, there are additional requirements in our rules (see 2.2c).

No. It must involve doing real-life work as its designed to give candidates experience of how solicitors work in practice, the challenges they face and to real clients.

  • provides you with the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence
  • can be signed off by a solicitor inside the law clinic, or one externally, with direct knowledge of your work. If it they work externally, there are additional requirements in our rules (see 2.2c).

Yes. Our requirement is for two years, or equivalent experience gained on a part time basis. We do not prescribe what full time (or equivalent) means. We expect employers or those signing off qualifying work experience to take a common-sense view of what this means.

Yes, so long as it:

  • provides you with the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence
  • can be signed off by a solicitor (inside or outside your organisation) with direct knowledge of your work. If it they work externally, there are additional requirements in our rules (see 2.2c).

No. Qualifying work experience gives a candidate the chance to develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours expected of a solicitor during the work experience. So at the start, candidates are likely to be demonstrating skills at a lower standard than at the end.

The SQE assessments make sure that all candidates have demonstrated the necessary skills at the right standard in particular, SQE2 which tests candidates’ practical legal skills. Provided that the work experience gives a candidate the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence it can count as qualifying work experience.

No. It needs to be signed off by a solicitor with direct experience of your work. The solicitor can work inside or outside your organisation but it they are external, there are additional requirements in our rules (see 2.2c).

Yes, so long as it:

  • provides you with the opportunity to develop some or all of the competences in the Statement of Solicitor Competence
  • can be signed off by a solicitor (inside or outside your organisation) with direct knowledge of your work. If it they work externally, there are additional requirements in our rules (see 2.2c)

The Sutton Trust have information on unpaid internships that you might find useful:

Internships Unpaid, unadvertised, unfair and Internships – Pay as you go?.

If you already have the Legal Practice Course, you can also ask us to recognise the combination of qualifying work experience and successfully passing SQE2 as equivalent to a period of recognised training (training contract). This might be used, for example, if you were were unable to get a training contract. It means that you will be admitted as a solicitor under our transitional arrangements, not the SQE.

Please be aware that the first sitting of SQE2 will be April 2022. Find out more about the assessment and visit the assessment website.

You will need to complete the ‘Notify us of your qualifying work experience’ form [link to new page]. You can register all your experience in one go or in stages if you are gaining it in more than one placement. Please remember you can only register qualifying work experience in up to four organisations and you must complete a separate application for each period you register.