SQE Update – February 2021

In this bulletin find out about our appointment of the new SQE evaluator, the latest SQE policies we have published, and the opportunities solicitor apprenticeships can bring employers. Plus, how you can get involved in our latest webinars and surveys.

This includes a survey on this update - we would love to know your views on whether you think it is useful and how we could improve it.

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SQE evaluators appointed

Following an open and competitive process, we have appointed research and evaluation specialists, Pye Tait Consulting to carry out the first phase of the SQE evaluation. The first phase will involve the development of a framework and metrics for the evaluation programme, which is planned to run over 10 years.

We understand how essential analysis and insights are when considering the impact of the introduction of the SQE and the new admission requirements. Following the reforms going live in September, we will publish initial evaluations after two and four years and a full SQE evaluation after seven and ten years. We will also conduct an early evaluation of the impact of qualifying work experience.

New SQE policies published

Ahead of the SQE website launch in spring, we’ve published more information to help people understand how the SQE will operate. The three most recent policies we have published are on appeals, complaints and conflict of interest and confidentially. Find out more

Solicitor examiners recruitment

There is still time for solicitors to apply to join the Kaplan assessment team, ahead of the first SQE assessment in November 2021. The roles available include question writers, markers and assessors. We are particularly keen to recruit a diverse range of examiners, including solicitors with disabilities, those from differing ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and a range of legal practice types.

Deadline is Friday 10 February read more now.

Get involved

Is this update any good?

We want to make sure this bulletin is useful, so please let us know what you think about the contents and how often we publish it. You can also tell us any ideas for future editions. Our survey will only take two minutes to complete – tell us now (deadline Friday 26 February).

SQE exam timings survey

We’re keen to get your feedback on when the SQE exams should take place in future years.

In response to some stakeholders saying they would like a little bit more to consider their response, the deadline for our survey has been extended to 19 February. Take our survey now 

#SQEready campaign – what are you doing?

We want to hear from law firms, in-house teams and legal services providers about how they're getting ready for the SQE. We're looking to a publish a range of short case studies showing what employers and other providers are doing. If you are interested, get in touch.

Apprenticeships for aspiring solicitors (YouTube)

When: 12.30 on 11 February

What: Solicitor apprenticeships mean someone can go straight from school to a paid job, while also studying at the same time to become qualified. They normally take six years to complete and the cost of training and exams is covered. This free webinar will give aspiring solicitors the facts, including:

  • the potential benefits of doing an apprenticeship
  • exactly what you need to do to qualify through the apprenticeship route
  • what solicitor apprenticeships are actually like - with the opportunity to hear directly from apprentices about their experience of working in both large and small law firms, as well as in-house legal teams.

Who: Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training, SRA; Amy Marren, solicitor apprentice, BPP Professional Education Group and Angelina Aitan, solicitor apprentice, Bailey Wright and Co Solicitors, and Owen Richardson, solicitor apprentice, Gowling WLG
Book now

Qualifying work experience – what law firms need to know (YouTube)

When: 14.00 on 22 February

What: Everyone looking to qualify through the SQE route - introduced in 1 September 2021 - will need to complete at least two years' work qualifying work experience (QWE). This free webinar offers law firms who currently offer training, and those who don’t, the latest information on what QWE is and what it means for your firm. Join us to find out about:

  • What counts as QWE
  • How it fit into the new SQE route
  • Where QWE might sit in qualification (ie between the two SQE assessments)
  • What confirming QWE means for a solicitor or compliance officer for legal practice
  • How QWE works when training candidates for the second assessment, SQE2
  • Having new SQE candidates in your firm as well trainees completing the old Legal Practice Course route
  • Offering QWE
  • The latest guidance available
  • Answers to common questions.

Who: Richard Williams, Policy Manager and Benedict Fisher, Head of External Communications

Book now

On demand webinars 

The SQE2 assessment

SQE2 tests both practical legal knowledge and skills, tested through 16 written and oral exercises and simulate the tasks carried out by a solicitor. You can learn more about the SQE2 including the recently published sample questions.
Watch now

Qualifying work experience - answers to common queries

Everyone looking to qualify through the SQE route will need to complete at least two years' work experience after 1 September 2021. This webinar covered answers to common queries about qualifying work experience, including queries we didn't have time to cover at our recent SQE conference.
Watch now

Solicitor Apprenticeships – opportunities for all

by Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training

As it is National Apprenticeships week, there is no better time to focus on the opportunities provided by solicitor apprenticeships. They can be a good option for both candidates and businesses.

With more than 700 people already training this way to become a solicitor, apprentices are a growing part of the profession. Every apprentice will need to take the SQE to qualify, just like all other aspiring solicitors who start their training journey this autumn.

What are the benefits for businesses?

The solicitor apprenticeship offers opportunities for all employers - whether a law firm, unregulated provider or in-house legal team. Any organisation providing legal services can offer them. You don’t have to be approved by us to take on an apprentice. Instead, employers need to enter into an agreement with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Financially, offering apprenticeships is attractive. All employers who pay into the apprenticeship levy can use their contributions to cover the costs of training and assessment for solicitor apprentices (including the SQE). Employers with an annual payroll of less than £3m who do not make a levy contribution can draw down on the levy fund to pay for the training and assessment costs of the apprenticeships they offer. More information is available on the government’s website.

Training the future generation of solicitors through the apprenticeship route:

  • Gives access to a wider and more diverse talent pool
  • Enables you to tailor training and learning to meet the needs of your business
  • Helps develop loyal and engaged staff.

What about the benefits for aspiring solicitors?

If you are considering a career in law, there are a range of benefits to the apprenticeship approach, including:

  • A six-year tailored programme of training - mixing on the job experience with classroom study: for those who like practical, hands-on learning by doing, this is a great way to train.
  • Earn-as-you-learn: you will be paid during your apprenticeship and will avoid the costs of university and further training and assessment.

Every apprentice needs to complete the SQE assessments to qualify - this means that any qualifying apprentice will have met the same high standard as all other candidates.

How does an apprenticeship work?

 The majority of solicitor apprentices will be recent school leavers who decide university isn’t for them. But it is also possible for someone with a degree to complete their pathway to qualification through a graduate solicitor apprenticeship which combines qualifying work experience with the SQE. And others, such as those seeking a career change or for whom university hasn’t worked out, can also become apprentices.

The work / training split is usually 80% on the job and 20% study, with apprentices learning law and legal practice alongside essential skills and ethics.

For qualification purposes, we count the apprenticeship as equivalent to a degree and time in the office provides the required period of qualifying work experience. To qualify, apprentices need to pass SQE1, and SQE2 at the end of their training. They also need to meet our suitability requirements.

Each employer must work with a training provider, such as a university law school, to deliver the academic study needed. Training providers work in partnership with employers and can adapt their offer so it responds to the employer’s needs - the business can choose how, where and when this training is delivered.

Find out more on the apprenticeships website.

Other ways to get involved

Join our LinkedIn reference group. It will help you keep up to date with the latest SQE developments and opportunities to get involved in our surveys and events.

If you are thinking about taking the SQE, or know someone who is, please follow Career in Law for the latest information aimed at aspiring solicitors.

If you have any questions, or want more information on how you can get involved, contact us.

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