SQE vs LPC: Which Should You Choose
Becoming a Qualified Lawyer is a challenging yet rewarding process, and so, it is important to choose the right qualifying route that is best suitable for your personal circumstances. The two available routes to become a Solicitor are the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) routes.
Legal Practice Course
Known as the traditional route to becoming a Qualified Solicitor, this process has become somewhat limited in the type of individuals who are still eligible to qualify this way. Being able to qualify through the LPC route requires for you to have met the (SRA) Solicitors Regulation Authority transitional requirements. This means that before 1 September 2021, you were on your way to either accept, start or complete any of the stages of the LPC route:
- A Qualifying Law Degree or the Common Professional Examination
- A Qualifying Non-Law degree and the Graduate Diploma in Law
- Passing the Legal Practice Course
- A Two-Year Period of Recognised Training (the Training Contract)
If you are currently completing any of these stages to qualify through the LPC, you have until 31 December 2032 to become a Solicitor through this pathway. Upon finishing the LPC, you will be required to complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC) and pass the Character and Suitability requirements established by the SRA. The PSC is a course created to allow individuals to develop the knowledge and skills gained during the LPC at a highly advanced level. Additionally, the Character and Suitability requirements cover 6 key rules that have been split into 4 parts that an individual must comply and abide by to gain admission to become qualified.
Upon completing each of these steps for the LPC route, you will have reached the stage to become admitted as a Qualified Solicitor.
Solicitors Qualifying Examination
Introduced on 1 September 2021, this single-test examination has brought a change in the process by which an individual can become qualified. The SQE requires individuals to have completed a Level 6 degree in any subject- this can be either an undergraduate degree, NVQs, Diplomas, or a Degree Apprenticeship.
Next, you will be required to complete both the SQE1 (functional legal knowledge) and SQE2 (practical legal skills and knowledge) exams. SQE1 comprises 360 questions divided into two separate assessments of 180 questions each. SQE2 contains completing 16 assessments and obtaining an overall pass mark to have achieved this part of the SQE exams.
Afterward, you will undertake a Two-year Qualifying Work Experience to gain real-life legal work experiences and to develop the competencies that the SRA has identified as a must-have to become a successful solicitor.
Just like the LPC, for the SQE route, you will also need to pass the SRA’s Character and Suitability requirements. Click the ‘rule’ and ‘parts’ links above in the LPC section of this article to find more information about the requirements of passing these criteria to become a qualified lawyer.
To summarise, the choice of either undertaking the SQE or LPC route to becoming a qualified lawyer depends on whether you meet their enrolment eligibility requirements. Please note that, if it was too late for you to satisfy the transitional requirements of the LPC, then you are automatically required to undergo the SQE route. However, you have until 2025/2026 to start the process of becoming qualified through the LPC route until the authorised educational providers that teach the LPC stop offering these courses and change to just providing the SQE route.
Check out The Legists ‘Career Insights’ where you can find more informational resources about becoming a Solicitor and other general top tips and advice about the England and Wales Legal Profession!