Jun 17, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

How much will the SQE cost?

Jun 17, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

Costs for the SQE have been revealed! Find out how much it cost when it is first introduced in autumn 2021. 

The SQE (Solicitors’ Qualification Examination) is the new route to qualifying as a solicitor. It’s due to launch in September 2021 and part of the reasoning behind the SRA (Solicitors’ Regulation Authority) developing a new route to qualification was to address the high costs associated with qualifying as a solicitor. The SRA said in 2017, “The SQE structure will also get rid of the current problem where many would-be solicitors have to take the ‘Legal Practice Course (LPC) gamble’ by paying large up-front costs, often up to £15,000, with no guarantee of a training contract or becoming a solicitor.”

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How is the SQE different?

To bring you up to speed, the current process of qualifying as a solicitor follows this approach:

• LLB or GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law)

• LPC (Legal Practice Course)

• Two-year Training Contract and PSC (Professional Skills Course)

This has developed into a very expensive route to qualification. The LLB will cost you up to £9,250 a year to study, although this will be covered by a student loan. If you need to do the GDL (necessary for non-LLB graduates), this will cost anywhere between £9,000 to £13,000. The LPC is an additional £12,000 to £17,000, which means you could be spending up to £57,750 on course fees alone to become a fully qualified solicitor.

Under the new system, however, things are going be different, both in terms of process and pricing. The process to qualifying as a solicitor will look like this:

• Degree or equivalent (e.g. Degree Apprenticeship)

• SQE 1

• SQE 2

• Two-year’s qualifying work experience (QWE) – this can be obtained at up to four different organisations, but must be signed off by solicitor or compliance officer and here are some examples, as outlined by the SRA:

- on placement during a law degree

- working in a law clinic

- at a voluntary or charitable organisation such Citizen Advice or a law centre

- working as a paralegal

- on a training contract

There are lots of extra detail about the SQE that is worth knowing. For example, the route through the process above is not strictly linear and you can undertake qualifying work experience before, during, and after SQE 1 and SQE2. You can read much more on the SQE here.

Need to prepare for the SQE?

Whatever your background or education, however you want to study, we have the right course for you.

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Go on then… how much does it cost?

The cost for the SQE will be significantly less than the GDL and LPC. SQE 1 will cost £1,100 to £1,650 and SQE 2 will cost £1,900-£2,850. The combined cost is, therefore, £3,000-£4,500. Even including the £9,250 a year you would take out on a student loan to do a degree, the total cost to you would be a maximum of £32,250, which is much more reasonable than £57,750!

Remember, with student loans for your first undergraduate degree, you do not have to pay this upfront and are only required to pay this back when you are earning over £26,575 a year, and this will be deducted automatically from your pay. Some people have even suggested that student loans should be viewed as more of a ‘graduate tax’ on your salary. Therefore, if you earn £40,000 a year as a trainee solicitor, you will pay just over £100 a month on your student loan.

What we’re trying to say that even though the total fee for qualifying as a solicitor stands at £57,750 under the current system and £32,250 under the new system, these should be viewed as £30,000 and £4,500 respectively, with student loan repayments made throughout your career.

For more details on SQE costs, check out these articles on our dedicated SQE website:

How much does SQE1 cost?

How much will SQE2 cost?

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