What top City firms will pay in maintenance to future SQE trainees

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By Aishah Hussain on


Financial grants range from £12,500 to £17,000

Top City law firms have begun to disclose what they will pay in maintenance to future trainees undertaking the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), with sums ranging from £12,500 to £17,000.

Magic circle firms Freshfields, Linklaters and Slaughter and May have confirmed the financial support they will provide SQE trainee cohorts later this year.

Freshfields and Linklaters will offer £17,000 in maintenance grants, whilst Slaughter and May will provide £16,000.

The trio are part of the ‘City Consortium’, an influential group of six law firms that will send their trainees to train exclusively at BPP University Law School. The other three firms, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells and Norton Rose Fulbright, are understood to be reviewing their maintenance grants and will announce any updates in due course.

Beyond the Consortium, Clifford Chance, another magic circle firm who is sending its SQE trainees to The University of Law, last month revealed it will offer £12,500 in financial support. Expect more firms to announce their financial awards as they progress onto the SQE pathway in the coming years.

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

A spate of law firms recently upped the amount of maintenance they pay their trainees on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) by a quarter.

Freshfields and Slaughter and May this month followed Clifford Chance in increasing financial support for LPC students from £10,000 to £12,500, a sum already paid out by Linklaters. Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills soon followed with rises of their own to £10,000 and £12,500, respectively.

Legal Cheek understands moves were made after future trainees lobbied their firms to increase the amount they provide in maintenance amid rising living costs.

The SQE officially came into force on 1 September 2021, becoming the new route to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. Sittings for part two of the two-part assessment began on 11 April and are expected to continue until the end of the month. The first SQE1 sit took place in November 2021, with just over half (53%) of candidates making the grade.