Put simply, the SQE stands for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. It is the culmination of the consultations and reviews of the Training for Tomorrow programme – a new assessment, standardised, which all solicitors will be required to take before they are accepted as qualified.
The SQE is the centralised exam which all new solicitors will need to pass to be a qualified solicitor, split into two parts.
The first part, which it is expected many solicitors would take before their work-based experience (training contract or equivalent) would be assessed by a Practical Legal Skills exam on legal research and writing, and six functioning knowledge exams as follows:
- Principles of Professional Conduct, Public and Administrative law, and the Legal Systems of England and Wales
- Dispute Resolution in Contract or Tort
- Property Law and Practice
- Commercial and Corporate Law and Practice
- Wills and the Administration of Estates and Trusts
- Criminal Law and Practice.
Stage two of the SQE is five practical legal skills assessments, which all must be completed across two different practice contexts, making ten examinations overall.
The practice contexts, which are similar and match up to many of the theoretical examinations above, are:
- Criminal Practice
- Dispute Resolution
- Wills and Administration of Estates and Trusts
- Commercial and Corporate Practice.
The consultation process laid out the fact that work-based learning was crucial to the success of future solicitors. However, the SQE’s work experience section will not be limited to training contracts, allowing more people to qualify through equivalent means.
Ultimately, the SQE will provide a standardised, flat test which will negate the current differences between separate providers who determine their own limits and pass marks for the LPC and GDL.