BARBRI SQE Prep FAQs

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We know you might have a few questions. Read on for BARBRI SQE Prep course FAQs. 

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Please note that these FAQs are specific to the BARBRI SQE Prep courses, and may not be applicable to other BARBRI courses. 

General

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a single, national licensing examination that all aspiring solicitors will take before qualifying into England and Wales. If you hold a degree in any discipline from any recognised jurisdiction you will be eligible for the SQE.

To qualify you will need to:

  • have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or work experience)
  • pass both stages of the SQE assessment - SQE1 focuses on legal knowledge and SQE2 on practical legal skills
  • have two years' qualifying work experience
  • pass the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.

If you are not a law graduate, you do not require a GDL before pursuing the SQE. However, we recommend non-law students take our longest SQE1 Prep course option, the Flexible 40-week course.

SQE1 (Functioning Legal Knowledge)

You will be tested on the application of Functioning Legal Knowledge by single best answer multiple choice questions. The two SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments comprise the following subject areas:

  1. Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services.
  2. Property Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice.

Ethics and Professional Conduct is examined pervasively across both FLK exams, and principles of Taxation are assessed in the context of Business Law and Practice, Property Practice, and Wills and the Administration of Estates.

SQE2 (Practical Legal Skills Assessments)

You will be tested on:

  • client interviewing with linked attendance note/legal analysis 
  • advocacy
  • case and matter analysis
  • legal research and written advice
  • legal drafting
  • legal writing.

The subjects assessed in SQE2 are Property, Probate, Business, Criminal, and Dispute Resolution.

Read the SQE2 Assessment Specification for more detail on what will be tested.

Please note candidates are assessed to the standard of a day one newly qualified solicitor. 

You may find that you are exempt from parts of the SQE.

If you have undertaken the Legal Practice Course (LPC), you can be exempt from the SQE1.

If you are qualified lawyer overseas looking to dual-qualify in England & Wales via the SQE, you may find that your home jurisdiction is in the list of exemptions for either the SQE1 or SQE2. 

For details on exemptions, whether you qualify, as well as how to apply for these, please check out the SRA website >

Please click here to read and contact the SRA directly about your request for reasonable adjustments at the test centres.

For information on how BARBRI supports you during the learning process, please visit this page.

BARBRI Course features

SQE1:

The first session is a Flexible (40-week) and is suitable for students without an English or Welsh law degree. However, this longer course is also available to any other students, especially those working full-time, or re-qualifying international lawyers. The second option is Focused (20-week) course which can be undertaken full-time or part-time, depending on availability or level of familiarity of the assessed subjects. The third option is Accelerated (10-week) course duration. This is only suitable for law graduates with the ability and opportunity to study intensively and full-time. 

The starting dates for SQE1 2024 courses are as follows: 

  • 40-week SQE1 Prep course – April 2024
  • 20-week SQE1 Prep course –  February 2024
  • 10-week SQE1 Prep course –  April 2024

 

The starting dates for SQE2 2024 courses are as follows: 

  • 20-week SQE2 Prep course – March and June 2024
  • 10-week SQE2 Prep course - February 2024

Find the SQE enrolment dates here >

The BARBRI SQE course allows you to study when and where you study best over the duration of the course session you choose. While your study time, days and location are extremely flexible, you should plan on spending the recommended hours per week over the relevant course session. 

There are certain live sessions in each course, but these are recorded and available to watch on demand if students can’t make them or want to re-watch. 

All course lengths cover the same materials but at require different hours of committed study per week.

The Flexible SQE1 40-week part-time course is 10-12 hours per week of study and we recommend 1 hour of study a day with 1 full day of study on the weekends.

The Focused SQE1 20-week part-time course is 20 hours per week of study and we recommend 3 hours of study per day over the 7-day week period.

The Accelerated SQE1 10-week full-time course will require 40 hours per week of study and is recommended for recent law graduates who can dedicate the time and study intensively.

The 20-week SQE2 course requires 10-15 hours of study per week spread evenly throughout the week.

The 10-week SQE2 course requires a commitment of 15-20 hours of study per week. We wouldn't recommend this option for students who are not BARBRI SQE1 Prep alumni.

The SQE1 Prep course has over 2,000 multiple-choice questions and forms the main foundation of the course content, in addition to the BABRRI workbooks, pre-recorded lectures and extensive mentor support. This way you will not only familiarise yourself with the substantive content of the exam, but also learn the crucial skill of applying this knowledge in the multiple-choice format that the assessment is in.

If you take any of our SQE2 Prep course you will also have access to this content.

For SQE1 you will receive a hard copy and online version of the Study Guide specifically designed for the SQE. This guide covers each subject area. You will also receive a revision book.  

For SQE2 you will receive a hard copy and online version of a concise workbook to supplement the skills explanations. 

For SQE Foundations in Law we will provide you with an online workbook to supplement the coursework. 

Yes, we will ship to the address you include in your myBARBRI account. There are no additional fees for international shipping. 

SQE1: 

In addition to the main practice multiple choice questions, there will be several multiple-choice practice tests delivered in exam style.  This means that the student must complete all the questions before they can see the answers. We still provide the students with detailed explanations of each question, including why the right answers are correct and why the wrong choices are incorrect.  There will be 4 mock tests throughout the course, which will include two 90-question practice tests for each of the two assessment areas. Finally, the SQE1 preparation course concludes with a full simulated exam which will replicate the SQE1 assessment specification, a full test of 360 questions.  

SQE2: 

Before you sit SQE2, you’ll complete mock assessments and receive personal feedback from a BARBRI assessor in each skill and subject assessed in SQE2. 

 

SQE Foundations: 

There is no mock assessment for SQE foundations. 

For both SQE1 and SQE2 each student gets assigned a Learning Coach, who acts as a personal mentor. You would be able to book time with your personal Learning Coach to see how you are progressing with your studies. They will also conduct livestream workshops, provide tips, and help you with any problem areas. There will also be scheduled “Strategy Sessions” when the learning coaches will be available for queries and support. 

Additionally for SQE1, we include our “Prep for Success” live workshop series to enhance group cohesion and improve exam readiness.  The SQE1 touchpoint workshops will cover:  

  • Guidance on how to use the materials and access/work through the course  
  • How to approach multiple choice question exams  
  • Wellness, mindfulness, and resilience  
  • Pre mock guidance  
  • Post mock analysis  

Yes, you can sign up for our SQE Prep Preview to see what our course looks like inside. There is no cost involved. You will be able to view and test out all the features of the online Personal Study Plan (PSP) and view the main types of course content on the SQE1 Prep. 

Try it out here.

To get a better idea of what our SQE2 course looks like, and to find out if this is the right option for you, you can download a sample of the SQE2 course materials. You’ll receive a real, abbreviated sample chapter that provides an insight into what will be covered during your course.

Course Costs, Scholarships and Discounts

SQE1 Prep costs £2,999. SQE2 Prep costs £3,499. For SQE1 alumni, SQE2 Prep costs - £2,999. 

If you opt to pay with a BARBRI Instalment plan a finance fee of £149 will be applied at checkout.

SQE1 Payment plan  

Flexible (40-week) – up to 8 equal payments 

Focused (20-week) – up to 4 equal payments 

Accelerated (10-week) – up to 2 equal payments 

 

SQE2 Prep 

Part-time 20-week – up to 4 equal payments 

Full-time 10-week – up to 4 equal payments 

 

SQE1 + Foundations Payment plan  

Flexible (40-week) + Foundations – up to 8 equal payments 

Focused (20-week) + Foundations – up to 4 equal payments 

Please note that if you enrol after the chosen course start date, it will result in fewer instalment options. 

For the full details on the payment plans and options, follow the link here.

Yes, there are several SQE scholarship options available, including a Public Sector SQE Scholarship (£600 off SQE1 Prep course fees), Essay Competition SQE Scholarship (partial or full funding off SQE1 Prep course fees) and a Humanitarian SQE Scholarship (50% off SQE1 Prep course fees).

If you are a BARBRI alumni, you are also entitled to a £200 discount on SQE1 Prep (confirmed through enrolment).

SQE1 Prep

You will be tested on the application of Functioning Legal Knowledge by single best answer multiple choice questions. The two SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments comprise the following subject areas:
 
Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services.
Property Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice.
Ethics and Professional Conduct is examined pervasively across both FLK exams, and principles of Taxation are assessed in the context of Business Law and Practice, Property Practice, and Wills and the Administration of Estates.

The first session is a Flexible (40-week) and is suitable for students without an English or Welsh law degree. However, this longer course is also available to any other students, especially those working full-time, or re-qualifying international lawyers. The second option is Focused (20-week) course which can be undertaken full-time or part-time, depending on availability or level of familiarity of the assessed subjects. The third option is Accelerated (10-week) course duration. This is only suitable for law graduates with the ability and opportunity to study intensively and full-time.

All course lengths cover the same materials but at require different hours of committed study per week.
 
The Flexible SQE1 40-week part-time course is 10-12 hours per week of study and we recommend 1 hour of study a day with 1 full day of study on the weekends.
 
The Focused SQE1 20-week part-time course is 20 hours per week of study and we recommend 3 hours of study per day over the 7-day week period.
 
The Accelerated SQE1 10-week full-time course will require 40 hours per week of study and is recommended for recent law graduates who can dedicate the time and study intensively.
The SQE1 Prep course has over 2,000 multiple-choice questions and forms the main foundation of the course content, in addition to the BABRRI workbooks, pre-recorded lectures and extensive mentor support. This way you will not only familiarise yourself with the substantive content of the exam, but also learn the crucial skill of applying this knowledge in the multiple-choice format that the assessment is in.
 
If you take any of our SQE2 Prep course you will also have access to this content.

For SQE1 you will receive a hard copy and online version of the Study Guide specifically designed for the SQE. This guide covers each subject area. You will also receive a revision book.

Once you have made payment for your SQE1 Prep Course, you can ship the books via your student portal in ‘orders’ and ‘manage shipping’. Through this, you can add your shipping address. Books are shipped within 3-5 working days. Digital forms of the books are available on the PSP Digital Bookshelf.  

In addition to the main practice multiple choice questions, there will be several multiple-choice practice tests delivered in exam style.  This means that the student must complete all the questions before they can see the answers. We still provide the students with detailed explanations of each question, including why the right answers are correct and why the wrong choices are incorrect.  There will be 4 mock tests throughout the course, which will include two 90-question practice tests for each of the two assessment areas. Finally, the SQE1 preparation course concludes with a full simulated exam which will replicate the SQE1 assessment specification, a full test of 360 questions. 

For both SQE1 each student gets assigned a Learning Coach, who acts as a personal mentor. You would be able to book time with a Learning Coach to see how you are progressing with your studies. They will also conduct livestream workshops, provide tips, and help you with any problem areas. There will also be scheduled “Strategy Sessions” when the learning coaches will be available for queries and support.
 
Additionally, we include our “Prep for Success” live workshop series to enhance group cohesion and improve exam readiness. The SQE1 touchpoint workshops will cover:
  • Guidance on how to use the materials and access/work through the course
  • How to approach multiple choice question exams
  • Wellness, mindfulness, and resilience
  • Pre mock guidance
  • Post mock analysis

SQE1 Prep costs £2,999

If you opt to pay with a BARBRI Instalment plan a finance fee of £149 will be applied at checkout.
 
SQE1 Payment plan
 
Flexible (40-week) – up to 8 equal payments
 
Focused (20-week) – up to 4 equal payments
 
Accelerated (10-week) – up to 2 equal payments

Yes, there are several scholarship options available, including a Public Sector SQE Scholarship (£600 off SQE1 Prep course fees), Essay Competition SQE Scholarship (partial or full funding off SQE1 Prep course fees) and a Humanitarian SQE Scholarship (50% off SQE1 Prep course fees). Find out all the latest information on our SQE Prep Scholarships here.

You would have to register and book the exams through the SRA’s website directly. For more information on this, please visit the SRA website.

Qualifying work experience does not need to be completed before sitting the SQE. You can undergo your QWE before, during or after your SQE assessments.
 
At the point of applying for admission as a solicitor with the SRA, you will need to register your two years of QWE. For more information on this, please visit the SRA website.
We are committed to opening opportunities to all and understand that navigating your journey through the SQE and obtaining QWE can be challenging. We have partnered with several industry-leading organisations to help you understand the range of QWE opportunities available including LawQWE, Strive, FLEX Legal, Taylor Root, MLA Global, Elevate, Reed, Accutrainee and LPCLaw, along with a job search engine powered by Indeed through the CareerHub.
 
In addition to this We offer one-to-one bookable appointments which last 30 minutes each, hosted via Zoom or telephone delivered by our experienced Careers Consultants. Students can take advantage of a broad range of topics, including advice and guidance around qualifying work experience.

You can submit an enrolment form via the ‘Bill My Employer’ link on the BARBRI webpage. If your employer is not on the drop-down list, email ukstudentservices@barbri.com and the team will add your employer to the list.

You have one opportunity to defer your SQE1 Prep studies for a fee of £399. You can choose to defer to any SQE1 Prep course that starts within 12 months of your deferral notice. This is a new course and not an extension of your previous studies. You must submit a deferral notice before the first day of your SQE1 exam date.  

You will be able to join a new course free of charge using your BARBRI Guarantee which will allow you to join any SQE1 Prep course that starts within 12 months of receiving your exam results. You can only use the BARBRI Guarantee once, and you cannot defer this course. 

Learn more about the BARBRI Guarantee here >

BARBRI will contact you via PSP messages where you will be provided with important information that you can access through your SQE1 onboarding and journey, including: 

  • BARBRI Welcome Pack 
  • Student Handbook 
  • Career Hub access links  
  • Introduction to your learning coach and their updates 
  • Study groups 
  • Exam booking information 
  • Important updates 

Also, via E-Mails to inform you when your course is live and via text messages for learning coach updates.  

Once the course starts, you will receive an introduction PSP message from the learning team which will contain a link to book 1:1 appointments. The Learning Team also host strategy sessions and workshops, which you are encouraged to join to meet this support function.  

You can also ask our subject experts substantive questions on the SQE1 materials via the ‘more info’ page in your PSP.  

Only one discount code can be applied for the same product. The discount that best benefits you will be applied. 

Via the BARBRI App, you can access lectures, video assignments, overview, reading, essay, and review assignments that are actively linked to PDF documents or content. PDF and lectures are downloadable for offline use.

The SQE1 Prep Course will be available for access up until the last day of the SQE1 exam for your chosen exam period, regardless of which day you choose to sit. 

Google Chrome is our suggested internet browser for using BARBRI.com. If you are using a Mac please download Google Chrome or Safari for the best experience. If you are using a PC please download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for the best experience. 

SQE2 Prep

The BARBRI Prep course is £3,499, however as you are a BARBRI SQE alumni, you will receive a £500 discount. Reducing the course fees to £2,999. Contact our team for the relevant coupon code to discount your fees.

Yes, you would be granted access to the SQE1 Prep materials one month prior to the SQE2 Prep course start date. We encourage early enrolments allowing you time to fill in gaps in your knowledge discovered through a diagnostic test at the start of the prep course.

The SQE2 exams is a skills-based assessment against your substantive legal knowledge tested through the SQE1 exams. Hence, you need to retain your substantive knowledge on the key practice areas as the questions may be drawn on underlying black letter law in the selected Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) subjects covered in SQE1.

You would have to register and book the exams through the SRA’s website directly. For more information on this, please visit the SRA website here.

You can sign up at anytime to join a BARBRI SQE2 Prep course, however we would advise you to ask yourself after you have sat the exam:

  • How confident am I that I passed?
  • Do I need to enrol straight away to the next course?
  • Do I have the time to commit to start studying straight away?

Please ensure you thoroughly read the terms and conditions before enrolling, particularly clause 11, as joining an SQE2 Prep course before receiving your results you are doing so with the knowledge that you will be liable to a £999 transfer fee if you are unsuccessful in your SQE1.

For example, if you choose to enrol for the 10-week Prep for April 2023 exams, and unfortunately find out you were unsuccessful on the SQE1 January 2023, after commencing your SQE2 Prep.

You would need to let BARBRI Student Services team know within 1 week of receiving your results. Our team would then arrange for your current SQE2 course to pause, whilst you returned to study for the SQE1. You will be required to pay all SQE2 fees in full and the transfer fee at this time. 

The transfer fee will enable you to study on a later SQE2 Prep course with BARBRI, once you have successfully passed your SQE1.

Transfer is only possible for students who produce evidence of an unsuccessful SQE1 result

From 2024, the exams will take place 4 times a year: in January, April, July and October. The waiting time for the results is between 14-18 weeks after assessment.

Exemptions from the SQE assessments are available to qualified lawyers from certain international jurisdictions. 

Individual exemptions exempt international lawyers from particular jurisdictions from SQE2 with proof of two-years’ legal work experience gained either as part of your qualification or after it (or a combination of these). Although you may have an exemption for part of the SQE, you will also need to satisfy the SRA’s English language requirements.

To apply for an exemption, you will need to create a mySRA account and start an application for exemption. Further information about exemptions available to qualified lawyers can be found here.

You can also download an exemptions checklist here for all the steps you need to complete for this process. 

Qualifying work experience does not need to be completed before sitting the SQE. You can undergo your QWE before, during or after your SQE assessments.

At the point of applying for admission as a solicitor with the SRA is when you will need to register your two years of QWE. For more information on this, please visit the SRA website here.

BARBRI’s SQE2 Prep course offers diagnostic testing which LPC students will find useful in identifying any gaps in their legal knowledge. Additionally, students will gain access to the relevant SQE1 Prep materials from a month before the SQE2 Prep course begins and for the duration of the course.

There is no English language requirement for the SQE2 exams. However, the SQE2 is made up of written and oral assessments, so candidates should feel comfortable speaking and writing in English.

Please mind that if you are an overseas lawyer, exempt from SQE2, you may need to demonstrate your English language competence. For more information on this, please visit the SRA website here.

We are committed to opening opportunities to all and understand that navigating your journey through the SQE and obtaining QWE can be challenging. We have partnered with several industry-leading organisations to help you understand the range of QWE opportunities available including LawQWE, Strive, FLEX Legal, Taylor Root, MLA Global, Elevate, Reed, Accutrainee and LPCLaw, along with a job search engine powered by Indeed through the CareerHub.

In addition to this We offer one-to-one bookable appointments which last 30 minutes each, hosted via Zoom or telephone delivered by our experienced Careers Consultants. Students can take advantage of a broad range of topics, including advice and guidance around qualifying work experience.

 

Students watch a video explaining each skill and the assessment criteria then do an online exercise where they complete parts of that skill and receive automatic feedback. They also have 24 self practice exercises to complete of exam level difficulty. They can upload their answers for peer review and then review other students work to become more familiar with the assessment criteria. They also have 8 practice with feedback activities. These are at set times within the course and the students will receive individual feedback on their work and how it would be graded according to the assessment criteria. They also have 6 more assessments within the mock exams – which again they will receive individual feedback. In addition there are strategy sessions each week where students can attend to ask questions of tutors about the course/the assessment and workshops where tutors will review the self practice activities to provide guidance and answer questions. There will be 3 workshop tutor calls with other students and the tutor, and 1 individual call between the tutor and the student.

Yes, the 20 week course requires about 7-10 hours per week study for SQE2 (and any time the student needs to revise SQE1 content) so is designed as a part time course. Written course works must be submitted by a set time to be marked, but are available for over a week before that time so can be done when convenient for the student. The Tutor calls are held during work hours but students can choose the day of the call (subject to availability). There are 2 oral PFAs which must be held at a set time, students get to book their own appointment so can choose a convenient time – again on a first come first served basis. For the mocks they have a choice of days for the fixed oral appointments (including weekends) and the writtens are released on a Friday for submission the following Monday, but can be submitted ahead of time.

Yes, there is a mock for each skill – so 6 in total.

There are 16 assessments in total, the scores for all are averaged out to come up with a composite mark, if that mark is below the pass mark, all 16 must be sat again.

The 16 pieces of individual personal feedback that they receive on exam level assessments.

Yes, you must provide BARBRI with your SQE1 results within 1 week of receiving these. If they are not the results you hoped for, BARBRI will postpone your SQE2 studies for a fee of £999. You can then return to a BARBRI SQE1 Prep, provided you are entitled to a BARBRI guarantee. The SQE2 Prep fees, will be placed on hold until you return to prepare with BARBRI for SQE2 after a successful SQE1 result.  

Exemptions are approved by the SRA directly, visit their exemptions page here

The SQE2 oral and written assessments are held in person, this will take place in London, Manchester or Cardiff.  

The oral assessments take place over two consecutive half-days. There is a choice of 4 sittings.  

Visit the UK Government website here to check if you need a UK visa for your stay.  

As a BARBRI SQE1 Alumni, students will receive a £500 Alumni discount off SQE2. We do not offer any scholarships for the SQE2 at this time. 

New student loan programme coming soon.

You can submit an enrolment form via the ‘Bill My Employer’ link on the BARBRI webpage. If your employer is not on the drop-down list, email ukstudentservices@barbri.com and the team will add you to the list. 

The SQE is replacing the traditional training contract qualification route in England and Wales, however many firms are still offering training contracts for full or part fees following the SQE qualification route.  

All of the SQE2 is closed book.

To be eligible for the BARBRI guarantee, you must complete a minimum of 70% of the assigned Practice Feedback Assessments as well as attend the mock exam. If you are unsuccessful in the SQE2 after doing so, you can provide BARBRI with your exam results and you will be placed on an SQE2 Prep course of your choice which commences within 12 months of exam results.

Learn more about the BARBRI guarantee here >

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)

QWE is the ‘work experience’ part of qualifying as a solicitor. This will be introduced in September 2021 along with the launch of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). It involves at least two years’ full-time (or part-time equivalent) Qualifying Work Experience (QWE).
 
The competences list is extensive and includes:
  • ethics;
  • professionalism and judgement;
  • technical legal practice;
  • working with others;
  • managing yourself at work.
Your QWE must be confirmed by a solicitor or a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP). They will have to be either be working in the organisation where the QWE is obtained or have direct knowledge of the candidate’s work.
 
If you are unsure whether a role will cover all or any of these competences, you should ask your current employer, line manager or the hiring organisation for confirmation. You should also get their buy-in on confirming your experience because, without this, you will not be able to apply for admission as a solicitor.

Qualifying Work Experience can be gained in a single two-year block or in stages across a maximum of four organisations. Some of your QWE can come from prior experience, before starting an SQE Prep course. This time can be ‘banked’ or even combined with your studies. It is also possible to complete your QWE between sitting your SQE1 and SQE2 exams. 

You can also obtain QWE in different roles within the same organisation. This applies when each role gives you an opportunity to develop a different competence. 

QWE can be paid or unpaid work and could include time spent:

  • on placement during a sandwich degree;
  • working in a law clinic;
  • at a voluntary or charitable;
  • organisation such as Citizen Advice or a law centre;
  • working as a paralegal (either in a law firm or an in-house legal department);
  • on a training contract.

Splitting your QWE across a maximum of four organisations is a flexible, new approach. However, if you chose to do this across multiple organisations, please mind the chosen area of law you eventually want to specialise in. The more aligned each role is to the area of law you want to practise, the better.

Remember your end goal is to secure a newly-qualified solicitor position. On top of the competences set out by the SRA, your experience should also aim to give you exposure to the practice area(s) you are interested in.

The same also applies to the types of clients you work with, and if appropriate, the sectors and industries they operate in. For example, if you aim to become a commercial solicitor, you may choose paralegalling in a commercial law firm over volunteering in a law clinic.

The legal job market is competitive, so you would need to ease your way into a role that is the closest match to the type of solicitor you want to become.

What is refreshing about the new qualification is that achieving the required QWE quota is much more flexible than the previous LPC. This flexibility allows for parallel part-time study in preparation for the SQE assessments. Considering the SQE is more affordable than the current route, this promises a new generation of solicitors from a diverse range of backgrounds and circumstances. This can only benefit clients from all walks of life who want to identify with and draw upon the experiences of the counsel that represents them.

Equally, those who prefer to work part-time while studying for the SQE exam-based elements are also able to do so. They would have to be sure that their employment opportunities can count towards the QWE. See below what can count as QWE.

 

QWE under the new qualification system is more flexible than the traditional training contract route. In obtaining QWE, the aim is for aspiring lawyers to have the opportunity to develop the solicitor competencies required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). It can include voluntary work and is not limited to work in one organisation. And, unlike a traditional training contract, QWE does not require experience in three different areas of law. The qualifying legal work experience can be accumulated over a maximum of four different positions and does not need to be done consecutively.

QWE can be undertaken before, during, or after the SQE1 and SQE2 exams. This means that you could already have, or be in the process of accumulating, your time for QWE since it is possible to claim it retrospectively. If you acquire the necessary two years’ worth of QWE before the introduction of the SQE in 2021, all that would remain for you to complete qualification is to pass the two-stage SQE. 

The benefit of QWE is that you have more options for acquiring the necessary experience without the obstacle of trying to secure a training contract within a very competitive environment. More firms will likely offer a wider range of options for obtaining QWE outside of a traditional training contract.

In theory, yes. However, your experience must be confirmed by one of the following:
  • a solicitor of England and Wales in the organisation you are working for;
  • another nominated solicitor of England and Wales, outside your organisation, who has direct knowledge of your work;
  • the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice, or COLP, (if your organisation has one) can confirm your experience. 
Please note that barristers are not eligible to take on this role of confirming.
 
If you are already a qualified lawyer overseas, then you do not need to evidence QWE and can proceed with the assessment stages. For more information on that, please visit the SRA website here.

No, but from an employability perspective, it would be sensible to avoid a lengthy gap between passing your SQE exams and your QWE. If you complete your QWE with more than one organisation, then a short gap between each role is unlikely to put you at a disadvantage. However, you must try to avoid lengthy periods away from work or studies. This is a risk as it makes you less attractive as a candidate, particularly for competitive roles with high-profile employers.

You can get QWE in various settings, including private practice, in-house legal departments, law clinics, and other charitable organisations. It can also include paid and non-paid experience, including paralegalling or a training contract. There is no preference for a specific type of organisation, the choice is yours. However, it is useful to think ahead to the area(s) of law you want to specialise in and the environment you want to work in, in the future.
 
For example, if your QWE comes from the not-for-profit sector, switching to the private sector, as a newly-qualified solicitor (NQ), may prove to be difficult.
Yes. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) requirement is for two years, or equivalent gained on a part-time basis. The SRA has not defined what full-time (or equivalent) means and expects employers or those confirming QWE to adopt a common-sense approach.

QWE can be paid or on a pro bono basis. Pro bono work is when someone needs help but doesn’t qualify for legal aid and can’t afford to pay for legal advice. As a student, you can give free advice to the individual in question, under supervision. In return, you get the opportunity to put your skills and theory into practice. Plus, you will be able to meet qualified professionals working in this area and extend your network of contacts.

If you’re in a position to undertake voluntary work on an unpaid basis, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau partners with many legal organisations so that students can deliver pro bono advice to those in need.

There is also the opportunity to work with initiatives such as StreetLaw, which originated in the US and now operates across the globe. It links local community groups, such as schools and prisons, with students who can research and deliver workshops on a particular area of interest to them. Many universities also have free legal advice clinics where you help members of the public, while guided by qualified lawyers. Universities also often partner with miscarriage of justice programmes and other initiatives. It’s worth getting in touch with your legal career centre to find out what are the options.

In theory, this should be possible. We recommend discussing this with your employer. Your QWE must be confirmed by a solicitor or Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (or COLP). They will have to be either be working in the organisation where the QWE is obtained or have direct knowledge of the candidate’s work. They will need to check your day-to-day responsibilities and how these have helped you to develop some or all of the SRA competences. From your perspective, you will need to keep an appropriate record of your experience.
The work carried out by paralegals can vary. Some roles involve more admin and have less exposure to the law and fewer interactions with clients. If you are currently applying for paralegal roles, pay particular attention to the job specification or description.
 
Consider discussing your needs with the recruiter in advance. This can help manage both of your expectations.

If you are a lawyer from outside England and Wales, qualified overseas, your professional experience can be taken into account by the SRA. It would still have to:

  • meet the competencies set out by the SRA; and,
  • be signed off by a solicitor of England and Wales, or a COLP.

You may also need to prove English language proficiency through a test. You can contact the SRA directly for any further information on this.

There is also the possibility to apply for exemptions for the SQE exam-based elements. You can find out more information on this here.

So, there you have it – that’s SQE’s Qualifying Work Experience explained. If you have any further questions you can visit our QWE FAQs. Or if you would like more information about our upcoming SQE Prep courses, speak to our team here.

QWE has to be signed off by a qualified solicitor or a compliance officer, within or outside of the organisation, who has knowledge of your work. The purpose of this is not to assess the competence of the skills demonstrated, but rather ascertain the time of the experience, whether it developed any of the competencies outlined by the SRA, and that there are no character and suitability issues that arose.

You can work in up to 4 different places, over 2 years to build up your Qualifying Work Experience. All your experience has to relate to the SRA’s statement of solicitor competence and be confirmed by a solicitor, that is a lot of competencies to cross check and confirmations to manage. The Flex Legal Journal will let you record your experience, manage approvals, and track your progress online against the SRA’s framework.

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