Dentons and ULaw launch separate SQE pathways for paralegals

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Law firm and law school giants to help legal workers qualify as solicitors

Dentons and The University of Law (ULaw) have this week launched schemes to help paralegals and other legal workers qualify as solicitors.

Dentons’ new scheme, dubbed ‘Quali-FLY’, enables ten of its paralegals, or other professionals, to qualify under the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) regime. They will be eligible to apply for the scheme after working for six months at the firm.

The candidates will undertake paid Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) over a two-year period, and will be able to apply for newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor roles on passing the SQE exams. Dentons is to also fund SQE exam and prep course fees, and is partnering with BPP for the provision of training.

Once Dentons fully adopts the SQE from 2024, Quali-FLY will be integrated into the firm’s standard training contract route.

Jackie Hanlon, head of Dentons’ legal delivery centre, which houses around 60 paralegals, said: “The launch of Quali-FLY and our early adoption of the SQE demonstrates Dentons’ innovative approach to developing future talent at the firm.”

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

ULaw, meanwhile, has launched a course, SQE1 Preparation for Legal Professionals, which can be paused and restarted, allowing students to have flexibility around the demands of their 9-5 jobs. It is spread out over 40 weeks, with 10 hours of study per week.

Peter Crisp, deputy vice chancellor at ULaw, said: “The introduction of our SQE1 Preparation for Legal Professionals course will enable those already working in the legal profession to continue the great work they do whilst furthering their legal education and readying them for the new SQE route to qualification.”

The SQE officially went live on 1 September 2021, becoming the new route to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales and setting in motion the gradual phasing out of its predecessor, the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Law firms and legal organisations have begun taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by the new regime, including Eversheds Sutherland, which last year launched a pathway for its paralegals to qualify as solicitors.

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Dentons kindly training people up so they can leave immediately on qualification.

Kind regards

Better firms


Will Smith's right hand

I am not saying this for the sake of being snobby, but I really don’t see how SQE ‘lawyers’ (non TC) will fit into the legal marketplace. Any thoughts?


I can only laugh

Yes, my thoughts are that you have no idea about how the legal market works and I assume you haven’t worked a single day inside of a law firm to understand the decision process. By the way, vacation schemes and internships don’t count.

Personally, I know that promotions from paralegal to trainee are very common. Much easier to train up a paralegal already working in a department on the SQE or LPC than to hire a recent student with no practical knowledge at all.

You will note that firms, at least my firm, will continue to train up SQE candidates using a system that mirrors the current LPC seat structure. Thereby, they would come out being competent lawyers.

I really fail to see how you have come to your conclusion.



I think they mean people who did QWE that doesn’t mirror the current LPC seat structure (assuming that’s what they meant by “non TC”) i.e. experience cobbled together working in law clinics, being a secretary or other non fee-earner role in a law firm


I can only laugh

Well, in such a case a firm will need to take a view as to whether such a candidate is suitable for them. If one only does QWE in commercial real estate only, I cannot see such a candidate being accepted as an associate in capital markets or debt, for instance.

I would agree that an ex-legal secretary may find it difficult to find work at a different firm once qualifying using the SQE method at their current firm where they have had no hands on ‘proper’ legal work and client contact. But this is only an initial hurdle, once the person is qualified and has some PQE in a specific department doing ‘actual’ legal work then they can certainly work in a different firm in the same department.

By no means are they less of a lawyer than anyone that completed the LPC. Especially if they have PQE doing legal work.


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