Got a question about the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)? You’ll find the answers below.
These FAQs have been curated from a number of questions which have been raised at our SQE themed events with BPP University Law School. The information given in the FAQs is correct as at 12 December 2022. For more information, please visit the SRA’s SQE web pages.
Syllabus and assessments
What is the SQE?
SQE stands for ‘Solicitors Qualifying Examination’. It consists of two assessments:
• SQE 1, which is assessed by 360 multiple-choice single best answer questions; and
• SQE 2, which is assessed by way of 16 skills tasks – 4 oral skills and 12 written skills.
What does the SQE syllabus cover?
The syllabus which is examined across SQE 1 and SQE 2 includes:
• Areas of law which form the core of any LLB, GDL, PGDL or Law Foundations Course, such as Tort, Contract, Administrative and Constitutional Law, Trusts, Criminal Law, Land Law, EU Law, the Legal System of England & Wales; and
• Areas of law and practice which still make up the core modules of the LPC: Business Law & Practice, Property Law & Practice, Dispute Resolution, Criminal law and Practice, Wills & Administration of Estates and Solicitors Accounts.
How are the 360 MCQs for SQE 1 divided up?
They are assessed across two papers. For Paper 1, you sit 90 questions in the morning (for 2 hours 33 minutes) and another 90 questions in the afternoon (for 2 hours 33 minutes) on one day and you do the same a few days later for Paper 2. That means you have an average of 1 minutes 42 seconds to answer each question.
The SRA has published which topics are covered in each paper, but within the paper itself the questions are randomised. So, for Paper 1, you could answer a question on Business, then Tort, then one on Contract, then Dispute Resolution and so on.
The SQE pass rate at BPP may be relatively high [as at November 2022], but it's still a toss of a coin if you pass [53% for SQE1 as at November 2022]. Is the pass mark very high or number of people passing is low.
It is true that the national pass rate for the first two sits of SQE 1 [as at November 2022] has been 53% in both sits. The pass mark for each of the two SQE 1 papers has, so far, hovered around 56-58%.
Does the SQE require a 'pass', or is it graded (Distinction/Commendation and Pass)?
The SRA will mark you on the following details in relation to each SQE assessment you sit: your attempt number, the pass mark, your mark and your “quintile” – i.e. if your mark was in the top 20%, the second 20% and so on. We anticipate that candidates’ quintiles will be a metric which law firms will note as part of the recruitment process as candidates in the same sit can be benchmarked against each other. This isn’t the same for the LPC, because providers set their own assessments.
Is SQE 1 more challenging than the LPC in terms of the content and the exam?
The LPC and SQE 1 differ in a number of ways, with a key difference being the fact that the SQE is examined to the level expected of a newly-qualified solicitor, whereas the ‘bar’ is lower for an LPC exam, being that of a ‘Day 1 trainee solicitor’.
One of the key differences is the syllabus for each of the assessments. Whilst they have a fair degree of overlap, there are significant differences. The entire SQE syllabus is compulsory, whereas LPC students study three specialist electives and can choose which ones to study from their provider’s list. For example, at BPP, we currently offer a choice of 16 electives. In contrast, unlike the LPC, SQE 1 revisits core ‘black letter law’ subjects from candidates’ law degrees and law foundation courses (PGDL/GDL), such as tort, contract, land, criminal, equity and administrative law and there are no elective subjects.
The exams also differ in terms of the way students are assessed. At the moment for the LPC, each provider can decide how they want to assess students. At BPP, we include a range of assessments including open book exams (NB some LPC providers have a ‘closed book’ LPC policy), multiple choice questions, oral assessments and ‘take-away’ exams. The SQE 1 exam is ‘closed book’ and is assessed entirely through multiple choice questions (MCQs), where students are required to give the ‘single best answer’ from five plausible options.
Is it harder to pass SQE 2, if you did the LPC?
Not necessarily, but LPC graduates who attempt SQE 2 without a undertaking an SQE 2 preparation course will find the SQE 2 assessments challenging for three reasons: 1) although most of the SQE 2 skills are similar to the ones covered in the LPC, only 50% of the SQE 2 marks are for the relevant skill: the other 50% is for knowledge covered in the SQE 1 syllabus; 2) the knowledge areas cover not only core modules on the LPC, candidates will be expected to apply key ‘black letter law’ subjects covered in a law degree/PGDL, such as tort contract, land, trusts etc; 3) the SQE ‘pass standard’ is that of a ‘Day 1’ qualified solicitor, whereas the LPC ‘pass standard’ is that of a ‘Day 1 trainee’.
What does SQE 2 test?
The SQE 2 assessment is about testing legal skills, which are tested within the context of the syllabus assessed in SQE 1. The skills include oral skills, which is examined through Client Interviewing and Advocacy and written skills which are examined through Case & Matter Analysis, Legal Research, Legal Writing and Legal Drafting. There are four assessments in the oral skills over two days and twelve assessments in the written skills over three days. The contexts you are tested in will be pre-determined and won’t change. For example, some of the written skills will be in Business Law, some might be in Dispute Resolution/Civil Litigation, Property and Wills/Estates.
As elective modules commonly studied on the LPC, such as Corporate Finance, Private Acquisitions and Debt Finance (amongst others) are not on the SQE programme, how should prospective trainees get their training in these areas if they aspire to join a corporate or city law firm?
In terms of skills and knowledge, the SQE is a minimum ‘floor’ not a maximum ‘ceiling.’ This essentially means that although passing the SQE ensures you meet the minimum standard required to practice, you may want to consider an SQE preparation course which allows you to add on electives and additional skills teaching to ensure you are best prepared for day one of your Qualifying Work Experience (‘QWE’). One such example is BPP’s SQE Master’s which incorporates ‘Essentials for Practice.’ This includes City-specific modules like the ones mentioned in the question (amongst others).
If you have done the LPC but have not secured a training contract, would you need to do the SQE as well?
LPC graduates can still qualify without needing to pass any of the SQE PROVIDED that they secure and complete a traditional training contract. If you have passed the LPC and don’t secure a traditional training contract, there is another way to qualify: you would need to pass SQE 2 and complete two years’ QWE.
Do I have to do a preparation course to sit the SQE?
Although it is possible to sit the SQE without taking a suitable preparation course, it is not advisable. These are very high stakes exams with exam fees being £3,980. Only 53% of candidates passed the first sit of SQE 1 in November 2021, so you need as much preparation as you can get to maximise your chance of passing first time.
There are a variety of courses on offer which prepare you for the SQE. Some will be purely SQE preparation courses and others will allow you to add electives and additional skills teaching, similar to those included in the LPC syllabus. Many firms prefer candidates to have much more of a grounding in these additional areas than the relatively narrow SQE syllabus.
Since the SQE is relatively new, and there are only a few past papers so far, how can we and BPP ensure optimal prep for the exams?
At BPP we have spent over 5 years designing our SQE programmes to align with the SRA’s centralised SQE assessments. Our first SQE sitters [up to November 2022] have been two small cohorts of solicitor apprentices who have studied at BPP. They have had a very high pass rate for both SQE 1 and SQE 2 compared to the national average, the latter of which was 100% for all 15 who sat SQE 2. This indicates that the pedagogy we have adopted in designing our SQE preparation courses is working well and does, we believe, offer the best preparation for students who will be sitting the SQE.
Do non-law graduates need to take a conversion course, such as the GDL, PGDL or Law Foundations Course, before starting an SQE Preparation Course?
Whilst the SRA only requires SQE sitters to have a degree (law or non-law), virtually no students without a full academic grounding in English law’s foundation subjects should entertain taking on such a high stakes exam like the SQE without a GDL, PGDL, CPE or equivalent (such as BPP’s Law Foundations Course). It would be like turning up to an advanced driving course without having passed your driving test.
It is for this reason that some providers, like BPP, require non-law graduates to have passed a law foundations course as part of their entry criteria for the SQE 1 Preparation Course. At BPP, we offer an SQE training package for non-law graduates which includes our Law Foundations Course (PGDL) and the SQE 1 Preparation Course. The package initially builds your core foundational legal knowledge, before developing the knowledge of the specific legal practice areas that will be assessed in the first part of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE 1). It will also start to develop the portfolio of skills that are assessed in SQE 2, giving you a head start and the confidence to impress prospective employers. As this package results in a Master’s level qualification (Master’s of Laws in Law and Legal Practice), eligible students are able to access postgraduate funding of £11,836 (for the 2022-23 academic year).
You need to remember that non-law graduates are lining up for the SQE alongside LLB graduates who have been studying law for 3 years. The whole point of a conversion course is to get the non-law students up to the standard of law graduates in the core foundational law modules. Teaching providers have been hugely successful over the years in ‘equalising’ the non-law graduates in this respect to the extent that it has become impossible in an LPC class for a tutor to work out who the law graduates are and who studied a non-law subject. That simply wouldn’t be the case without the solid grounding of a GDL/PGDL/Law Foundations Course.
The expectation of most leading firms is that non-law graduates should continue to get that solid grounding in a law conversion course like the ones listed in the question.
Are the SQE courses offered as a part of a one-year Master’s degree in BPP?
Yes, at BPP we offer an SQE Master’s degree called ‘Complete SQE Training for Law Graduates’ which includes 1) SQE 1 Preparation 2) SQE 2 Training and 3) Essentials for Practice. For non-law graduates we offer a Master’s course which combines 1) our law conversion course with 2) SQE 1 Preparation. Both of these Master’s are eligible for Student Loans Company Finance (currently £11,836 as at November 2022).
When would we be expected to sit the SQE 1 if we study a part-time Master's law conversion?
It really depends on which course you have taken and at which education provider. Some law conversion Master’s courses don’t include any SQE preparation, but at BPP, we include our SQE 1 Preparation as the last part of our law conversion Master’s. As candidates can only currently sit SQE 1 in the months of January or July, you would be ready to sit SQE 1 in the January or July following the completion of your SQE 1 Preparation. There is no requirement at BPP that you sit the external SQE 1 assessment at the first opportunity, but because there are only currently two sits per year, you would have to wait 6 months if you deferred your first sit.
I am studying an LLM in university now. Can I apply for the Legal Practice Course or SQE1/2 in the next year?
At BPP we open applications for our law programmes around 11 months before the start date of the course, which accept applications on a rolling basis. We have start dates in February 2023, September 2023 and February 2024 for our main SQE courses. Our LPC start dates are Jan 2023 (FT), Feb 2023 (PT) and Sept 2023 (FT & PT).
Questions from international students about the SQE
I am a practising lawyer from South Africa with my own small law firm. I have completed 2 years of training here [in South Africa] before I qualified as a lawyer there and I have an LLM from University of London. Which course would be best in order to covert and practice UK law or join one of the big law firms in the UK?
The position is very complicated for lawyers who are qualified overseas as the position varies widely between jurisdictions and individuals. Whether an internationally qualified lawyer has any exemptions will depend on the professional qualifications they have and, in some cases, how long they have practised at that level.
If you have a legal professional qualification which allows you to practise in the UK or an international jurisdiction, the SRA have said that you will not need to complete QWE.
The best place to start is the SRA’s website, which provides a list of jurisdictions where exemptions may be granted. If you are a qualified attorney in South Africa, you can apply to the SRA for an SQE2 exemption and you would be exempt from QWE.
From what you say, it is less likely that you might be eligible for an SQE1 exemption, but you can look into this further with the SRA on a separate exemption application if you wish. If you don’t qualify for an SQE1 exemption (which I suspect is the case here, unless your LLM covered the usual foundational modules of an English LLB), the option which many large firms in the UK would expect would be to complete BPP’s law conversion course (to provide you the secure grounding you need in English law) plus either BPP’s in person, online or self-study SQE1 Preparation.
For other candidates reading this answer, remember, because the position varies widely depending on where you are qualified, as well as the qualifications and experience you have, separate bespoke advice is always recommended after you have studied the SRA’s guidance on their SQE and QWE web pages.
As an international student, does the LPC, SQE or Training contract benefit me more or less?
I don’t think there is an easy answer to give you as we don’t know enough about your circumstances or career aspirations. That said, many international students are now attracted to the SQE pathway because QWE is easier to acquire than a training contract, the number of which is now declining.
For the SQE courses offered at BPP, which ones qualifies you for a PSW visa?
The BPP, SQE courses for eligible law graduates that would meet the PSW eligibility requirement are the PGDiploma which covers SQE 1 Preparation and SQE 2 Training or the Master version called Complete SQE Training for Law Graduates which consists of the following modules, SQE 1 Preparation, SQE 2 Training and Essentials for Practice.
Is the GDL course is necessary for non-UK law graduates, or can they proceed with LPC?
In order to meet all providers’ entry requirements for the LPC, a student must either have a qualifying law degree (QLD) or a law conversion course. This is a regulatory requirement of the SRA and applies to both domestic and non-UK law graduates.
If I look for QWE in a foreign country, should I be looking for firms or international organizations which have a solicitor working for them to sign off my QWE?
QWE must be signed off either by a solicitor qualified in England and Wales or a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice. Ideally, you want to be working for a firm or organisation that has such a person working there too. Either way, you should record what you do during your QWE by using the SRA’s QWE record template.
Qualifying work experience and general work experience
What is Qualifying Work Experience (‘QWE’)?
To qualify as a solicitor under the SQE regime, as well as passing the SQE, you need to complete two years of QWE with up to four legal employers. You are not required to develop all of the SRA’s published competences – but you need to have developed at least two of them. For more details, see here.
How do we know what counts and does not count as QWE for the SQE?
The SRA sets out the standard for QWE that it expects employers to provide, but unlike the LPC (which requires trainees to complete at least one contentious and one uncontentious seat), QWE can be in one or multiple practice areas. For more details, see here.
Would the QWE need to be in the area of law you then decide to practice in, or can it differ?
The QWE which you complete does not necessarily have to be in the practice area you choose to qualify into, although you would be best advised to gain some experience in that practice area as part of your QWE.
Do you think firms will offer some form of training to allow students to fulfil their QWE?
Yes. Most firms are simply ‘rebadging’ their Training Contracts as QWE, although a number of firms have taken the opportunity to use the flexibility of QWE to innovate and evolve their training to better suit their practice.
How can you ensure you are obtaining sufficient/a certain level of QWE which meets a future employer's criteria? And what standard is this measured against?
This is a very good question, and it depends on which firms you are referring to. Few firms have yet gone on record to say how they would view a portfolio of QWE across three or four employers. Most will say they will consider the application ‘on merit’, which means that they will scrutinise the nature and quality of the training you have had very carefully. Ultimately, it is the quality of the work, training and supervision which firms will be interested in and that will vary considerably for QWE, particularly ones which are spread across multiple employers. For more details, see the SRA’s Solicitors Competence Statement.
I was planning on getting non-law work experience in a company in my year between my LPC and training contract. Would I need to re-evaluate and get relevant law work experience now instead, in case I have to take the SQE 2?
Non-law work experience cannot count as QWE, although working in the in-house legal department of a company could do. If you have already secured a training contract, I would discuss your question with the graduate recruitment team. Most larger firms would still insist you complete their two-year QWE programme even if you have experience elsewhere which is capable of counting as QWE, so they probably wouldn’t have a strong view either way as to what you do in that gap year.
However, if you haven’t yet secured a training contract and are planning taking a gap year after your LPC, I would recommend getting some legal work experience during that period – not only to enhance your knowledge of the profession, but part, or all of it might be capable of counting as QWE if you don’t secure a training contract. But remember, if you take the LPC and don’t get a training contract, you will need BOTH a pass in SQE 2 and two years of QWE in order to qualify.
Can a placement year that was taken after your second year in a legal team within a company come under the QWE requirements?
In theory, QWE could include work undertaken during a placement year on a degree, but in practice most (if not all) is unlikely to count as QWE. Those signing off on the work and the SRA would want to look closely at what you did, as significant parts may not count as QWE given the early stage you were at in your legal education. What is important is the nature of the work and the range of competencies that an individual gains during the work experience/placement. The SRA website has a comprehensive list of the competencies that would need to be included for the work to be classed as QWE.
Can working in my university’s law clinic count as QWE?
Working in a University Law Clinic is fantastic work experience and could, in theory, count as QWE, provided you were being supervised by a solicitor qualified in England & Wales and they can sign off on the work, meeting the SRA’s QWE requirements. However, it would have to be a lengthy commitment for such work to count in any meaningful way. For example, if you did an afternoon per week (say 3.5 hours) across 30 weeks of a three year degree, that would still only work out to be the equivalent of around 2 months’ QWE. So, whilst it’s good to know that Pro Bono/Law Clinic work can ‘count’, its significance as QWE has perhaps been a little overstated.
Would other Pro Bono and CAB work count towards QWE?
It could be the Pro Bono/CAB work could count towards QWE, like working in a university law clinic, but you would have to have done quite a lot of it to count in a meaningful way over a long period of time as mentioned above. All QWE must be signed off by a solicitor practising in England & Wales or the firm’s Compliance Officer for Legal Practice. The SRA has issued guidelines for determining whether the work is QWE.
Does working part-time for a year as a paralegal count as 1 year, or 6 months of your qualifying work experience?
The SRA has said that the QWE must be two years’ full-time or equivalent, although there is a little discretion built into the system. It also depends on how ‘part-time’ the role is. The way we have interpreted the regulation is that if you are on a 50% contract as a paralegal, then one year in such a role would probably amount to 6 months QWE, if all the other criteria were satisfied.
Would a legal assistant constitute QWE, or only paralegal work?
It’s not the job title that matters – it’s the work you do.
Do vacation schemes count as QWE?
No. Firms offering vac schemes aren’t, so far as we are aware, signing off on such experience as QWE. In any case, even if you were able to argue that small parts of a Vac Scheme amounts to QWE (although much of it would not), that part would amount to such a small fraction of the two years you need to render it meaningless as QWE – great work experience, but nothing more. Remember, you can piece together your QWE across different employers, but it is limited to four places of work.
How do you get shadowing/work experience at 16 for a career in law?
It can sometimes be difficult to get legal work experience before starting university. Although some firms are beginning to offer experience for younger students, most ‘in-firm’ experience starts later in your academic career. But don’t let this put you off! There are some firms and chambers that offer shadowing experience during the summer holidays. Here’s a great article with tips on how to access legal work experience while you are at school.
You could use this time instead to consider volunteering or work experience in another industry. There is often no requirement to have had formal legal work experience before applying for first-year programmes and vacation schemes. Very often, firms are looking for students who have gained transferable skills from any industry, rather than necessarily having a legal background.
In any event, you can easily get exposure to the ‘law in action’ by visiting your local magistrates and Crown Courts – ask the ushers which hearings are public and whether they could suggest which one(s) would be of interest to a potential law student like yourself.
What help does BPP offer toward gaining QWE?
At BPP, from 2023, we will be offering 5 BPP SQE students per year 6 months’ QWE working in our Pro Bono centre. This is over and above the work experience they can receive in our award-winning Pro Bono Centre and the expert, specialist guidance which our Law Careers team offers with CV drafting, applications, mock interviews etc.
The SQE and Training Contracts
Is there a way of firms funding your SQE like they did with training contracts/LPC?
Yes – virtually all firms who sponsored students for the LPC are doing so for the SQE. Ultimately, it will vary from firm to firm, but it does tend to be the larger firms who provide sponsorship.
Is it more beneficial doing 1) the LPC full time, then doing a training contract for two years or 2) doing the LPC part time mixed in with a training contract?
They both have their pros and cons and it will depend on the individual. The main objective would be securing the training contract: it would then be a discussion with the firm about whether to do the LPC full time before your TC, or part time alongside your TC. At BPP, as well as running full time programmes, we offer both the LPC and SQE courses on a part time basis to allow students to earn as they learn, with many working full time.
Will training contracts still be offered by big firms in 2026? I am a first-class law student looking to do my LPC in January and want to completely opt out of the SQE.
It’s unlikely that many (if any) big/leading law firms will be offering TCs by 2026. Over 50 of those firms send their trainees to BPP, of which over 70% have committed their future trainees to SQE courses starting in 2022 or 2023. We expect most (if not all) of the remainder to have switched by 2024 or 2025. We believe smaller firms will be less concerned about which pathway you have chosen and are likely to offer training contracts for longer, with some offering them alongside QWE.
I have passed my LLB in 2016 and BPTC in 2019. Which course should I do to avail a training contract easily and will I be eligible for exemption of courses of SQE 1 or SQE2 or LPC?
Firstly, no training contract is easy to secure. You can choose either the LPC or SQE route to qualify as a solicitor. If you are a BPTC graduate from BPP, you would normally be exempt from around half of the LPC modules should you choose to study the LPC at BPP. If you studied at another provider, we would have to check your record card to advise further. Unfortunately, the SRA does not routinely provide exemptions from any part of the SQE for BPTC graduates.
As a third year LLB student, should I be concerned about training contracts if I plan on going down the SQE route?
Training contracts are part of the LPC route to qualification. If you are planning on qualifying via the SQE route then you will need to complete qualifying work experience (QWE). The reality is that if you complete two years’ QWE at single law firm, your QWE will, in most cases, look like their previous training contract, with seat rotation, although that is not a requirement of QWE.
As a fourth-year law student who started university in 2019, if I take a gap year in order to work next year, can I still apply for the LPC? And what would you advise me to do?
Students who started a ‘qualifying law degree’ in 2019 meet the eligibility criteria in terms of timing to go down the LPC route, if you wish to, but you can also choose the SQE. The concern you might have is whether you would be able to secure a traditional training contract after taking a gap year and then taking the LPC, as the number of TCs will reduce year on year over the next few years.. You might be best advised to see whether you can secure any QWE as part of your gap year and opt for the SQE pathway.
General SQE Questions
What is the professional skills course and is it offered by the BPP?
Those on the SQE route do not do the Professional Skills Course (PSC). The PSC is a requirement for those students who wish to qualify as a solicitor via the LPC route. At BPP we offer various modes of delivery for our PSC, including F2F and online and a fast track course which can be completed in 8 days. This is normally paid for by a trainee solicitor’s employer shortly before or during their training contract.
I'm in the final year of my law degree. Are there any deadlines to apply for the LPC/SQE?
Students can apply for the LPC and SQE programmes right up until the start of our courses at BPP – you will have to check the position for other providers. We would strongly advise submitting an application well ahead of time to ensure you are best placed and ready to start the course at the beginning of term. Students who accept offers early normally receive access to preliminary materials a number of weeks before the start of the course so they can ‘hit the ground running’ at the start of term.
How do we apply for SQE / LPC at BPP or other providers? Is it through the provider university website or is there another platform?
Applications to study full time on either the LPC or SQE are made through the Central Applications Board known as Lawcabs. If you wish to study either the LPC or the SQE on a part time basis then you apply directly to BPP via email@example.com.
Do you offer a masters with the LPC?
Yes. We have three options: the most popular is our LLM Legal Practice Course, which is the full LPC plus two additional Master’s modules: Negotiation & Case Analysis, and Law Review & Reform. This is an integrated Master’s and therefore qualifies for funding from the Student Loans Company (£11,836 as at November 2022). At BPP we have two further Master’s versions of our LPC, the LLM Commercial Legal Practice and the LLM Professional Legal Practice. These are both top up Master’s which students complete after their LPC, and as such, unlike the LLM LPC, they don’t qualify for the funding. However, students have up to 5 years in which to top up their LPC to a Master’s.
As I third year law student (as at November 2022), I want to take a year out after I graduate, what would my options be then?
As a third year law student, you would still be eligible to take the LPC, or the SQE if you prefer. However, if you take a year out after finishing your law degree, it is unlikely that you would start an LPC or SQE course before 2024. By that time, the vast majority of the larger firms will have switched to the SQE. However, if you are looking to join a smaller or High Street firm, they may be more flexible with your chosen pathway.
I'm a first/second year law student, what steps do I need to be taking now?
As a second year law student, we would recommend (if you haven’t started already) considering what type of practitioner you want to be and to research the practice areas you are most interested in. You may be starting to consider whether to go down the Solicitor or Barrister route. One way to find out which you would prefer is (if you haven’t already) to join the Law and Bar Societies at your university and attend events they put on. Your university careers service is also a great first port of call, as they will be able to offer advice around applications, the type of firms available as well as helping you with interview preparation for vacation schemes and other key parts of the recruitment process.
BPP also runs a number of career-focused events which will support your longer term plans. See here for BPP’s latest events.
We would recommend treating your research like an additional module at university, perhaps spend 2-4 hours each week researching and attending events. There are also a lot of opportunities for you to ‘try out’ the different career paths available to you. Many firms have insight schemes, open days and vacation schemes which will all give you a window into the type of firms they are, and the work they do.
With the talk of 'SQE graduate-apprenticeships' when you can join a firm immediately after university, is there any need to do an SQE prep course?
All candidates who choose the SQE pathway to qualify as a solicitor will be required to pass the SQE, as the SQE is the end-point assessment to qualification, unless you are still able to qualify via the LPC pathway. If you secure a graduate apprenticeship role at a law firm, you will be ‘earning and learning’ at the same time. What that means is you will be preparing for the SQE alongside your work in the office. The training and development team at such firms will advise when you will be studying and which provider’s course they require you to enrol onto.
Is it safe to say that generally speaking, going down the LPC route is still best until the SQE pathway is tried and tested? Especially considering firms have varied positions towards the SQE currently?
There are a number of considerations to weigh up when deciding which route to pursue, not just the one you mention. The first is to check that you do still have the option of completing the LPC, as this is only open to you if you have started your ‘legal journey’ prior to 31 August 2021. BPP runs a number of presentations entitled ‘LPC or SQE: which pathway is best for me?’ We would recommend attending one of these sessions to find out more about each pathway and the various factors you need to consider, as well as exploring the content on Legal Cheek on the subject.
Does the SQE have as much recognition globally as the LPC?
The LPC and the SQE are qualifications for lawyers who wish to practise as solicitors in England and Wales. Neither qualification permits you to practice in another jurisdiction, but it is becoming increasingly common for lawyers to be dual qualified, particularly commercial lawyers who deal with English law as the governing law in contracts.
What is the last cohort of the LPC. Will it be an option in 2024?
In theory the LPC will continue until 2032. However many providers will have decided not to offer the LPC long before that date. Students who still have the option to go down the LPC route should still be able to enrol on LPC courses in 2024, although there is likely to be a diminishing choice of providers and/or modes for studying the LPC by the mid to late 2020s when the SQE gets more popular.
Once we have completed the LPC, are there any more exams we have to do? Or do we have to gain a TC and once that has been completed, we can become a qualified solicitor?
At present, if you wish to become a qualified solicitor via the LPC pathway and have completed your LPC, you will need to complete a two-year Period of Recognised training – commonly referred to as a ‘training contract’. During this Period of Recognised Training, you will be supervised by a qualified solicitor and complete the Professional Skills Course. If you do pass the LPC but don’t secure a training contract you can also qualify by passing SQE 2 and completing two years of QWE.
I am undertaking my LPC in 2022 and am working towards getting a training contract for 2024. Will I need to change to the SQE from the LPC? Or would I need to undertake the SQE 2 instead of getting a training contract?
That will depend upon the requirements of the firm(s) you are applying to. It is likely that some firms will still be offering training contracts in 2024 but a number of firms will have transitioned to the SQE/QWE route by then. If you are unable to secure a TC under the LPC pathway, you could sit SQE 2 and complete two years of QWE as an alternative route to qualification.
If you have graduated in law but don’t feel quite as confident yet to get a TC and think you would need at least a few years of experience, would working as a paralegal now and SQE in a few years be a better option compared to doing the LPC now?
If you are uncertain about pursuing a career in law, then working as a paralegal before committing to studying for a professional qualification can be a good idea. It may well confirm (or not) your interest in a legal career and it will give you valuable experience working in a legal environment. It may count as QWE if the work you do meets the competencies outlined by the SRA. On the other hand, some students prefer getting all their education out of the way before they embark on the working world. Neither is a better option than the other – it just depends on your own personal circumstances and preferences.
I've already completed the GDL - does this have any impact on which course (SQE or LPC) I should/can/will complete?
If you started your ‘legal journey’ (i.e. you started an LLB or GDL or equivalent) prior to 1 January 2022, you are likely to still be able to study the LPC, or instead you could start the SQE Preparation course.
For someone with a law degree from another jurisdiction, do you require a conversion course along with SQE 1 and 2?
It depends on the jurisdiction of law which you have studied. If your LLB is in English law, you would not ordinarily need a conversion course, but if the law you have studied relates wholly or substantially to a different jurisdiction, we would recommend you do BPP’s Law Foundations Course (PGDL) to gain a solid grounding in the laws of England & Wales.
If you have practised in an overseas jurisdiction, the work you have done could also count towards QWE, if you are pursuing the SQE route.
Is there a preference over LLM or MA for postgraduate law?
No, not at all. Whether you choose a Master’s version of the LPC or SQE is a personal decision and is often – at least for domestic students – driven by the ability to access £11,836 of government funding from Student Finance England (2022-23 academic year). There is no general requirement in the profession for students to have a Master’s because the LPC and SQE are, themselves, studied at Master’s level. A very small number of US firms in the past have required a Master’s but they are the exception to the rule.
As a business graduate, I need to complete my conversion course, does the SQE Master's course cover that cost too?
Our SQE for Non-Law Graduates is an SQE Master’s which includes our law conversion course plus SQE 1 Preparation. Or you could undertake our law conversion course as a postgraduate diploma and then complete our Complete SQE Master’s. Non-law graduates will, in most cases, not be able to start an SQE course without a solid grounding in several foundational law subjects. Once they do that (e.g. on a law conversion course) they are on a level playing field with LLB graduates.
Does BPP offer funding and scholarships for students that apply for the SQE course?
At BPP we have a scholarship fund of over £1 million for our postgraduate law courses. We use a variety of criteria when assessing eligibility for our scholarships. We offer career commitment scholarships of £2,000 for those who demonstrate commitment to a career in law and we also have a number of full fee scholarships. We are particularly interested in hearing from you if you have had a challenging academic journey, if you are a care leaver or a care giver, or if you have been a leader in your community through volunteering or through pro bono work.
Other providers guarantee a full refund if the student fails to successfully receive a training contract offer within 9 months of the completion of the course, do you offer a similar scheme?
You need to read the Ts & Cs of any ‘money back’ guarantees as, in practice, they are not a 100% refund in most cases and eligibility for such schemes is subject to the student satisfying a great number of conditions. At BPP, our SQE Career Guarantee focuses on enhancing a student’s employability by offering further free training.