Thinking of taking an exam to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales? This is why you should start now.

By Victoria Cromwell
Head of QLTS Prep

The introduction of the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), possibly as soon as September 2020, will mark the end of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), the current route to admittance as a solicitor in England and Wales for foreign qualified lawyers.

What is the SQE?

The SQE introduces national examinations that all prospective solicitors, whether UK university graduates or foreign qualified lawyers, will need to pass to qualify in England & Wales from 2020 onwards.

The SQE will be taken in two stages: SQE 1 which will focus on legal knowledge and procedure, and SQE 2 which will focus on practical legal skills.

Why does it matter to me, as a qualified lawyer, whether I take QLTS or SQE?

  • Passing the QLTS exam is currently the only requirement for qualification as a solicitor in England & Wales. There is no need to undertake any period of training or work experience. Post-2020, you may need to prove a minimum of two years’ professional experience in order to satisfy the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that you are competent to practice. On the plus side, the SRA is considering whether this experience might mean exemptions from some or all of the SQE exams itself. However, in reality it is difficult to see how the majority of lawyers will be able to demonstrate the required competence and knowledge of English and Welsh law, particularly if you are trained in a civil law country.
  • The current SRA proposals will also require an English language test, where necessary. There is currently no such requirement for admittance as a solicitor in England & Wales after passing the QLTS.
  • The first stage of the QLTS exam (MCT) can be sat worldwide. The SRA has not indicated that any of the SQE will be offered outside the UK.
  • Whilst full details of the exam specification have not yet been published, the likelihood is that the SQE will consist of more exams than the QLTS and as a result is likely to take longer and be more expensive.

So what should I do?

Currently, the last opportunity to sit the first stage of the QLTS (MCT) will be January 2020, and the last opportunity to sit the second stage (OSCE) will be May 2020. Therefore if you want to qualify as an English solicitor, now is the time to start.

How BARBRI can help

BARBRI offers prep courses for QLTS. Our course are designed to be part-time and flexible, to enable you to study around your other professional commitments.

In July 2018, 83% of our students reported passing first time with QLTS Prep by BARBRI compared to the 50% overall pass rate.

We are currently enrolling students for our prep course for the January 2019 exam. To find out more or enrol, please click here.

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