Jun 17, 2021

Written By Becky Kells

Should I sit the LPC, or wait for the SQE?

Jun 17, 2021

Written By Becky Kells

At the moment, there is an option for students to complete the LPC and qualify via the traditional route, or wait an (indefinite) amount of time until the SQE is launched. If you’re wondering what to do, this article might be of use.

Do you have a training contract place?

If yes, congratulations. Training contracts are hard to come by—and with good reason. Upon securing one, you can bid farewell to the financial burden of the LPC and GDL, as well as the minor headache of choosing a provider and signing up. Firms fund and organise all required courses, and you’ll complete one or both of the LPC and GDL in the two-year period before you start your training contract. 

In this situation there is no reason at all to wait for the SQE, which has a provisional start month of November 2021. It would mean delaying or cancelling your training contract and going it alone when it comes to funding the SQE and related courses. The LPC, GDL and training contract route to qualification will remain valid until 2032. If you’ve got it in the bag, there’s no reason not to use it. 

Verdict: LPC/GDL. 

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Are you in the final year of your undergraduate degree?

So you are at the end of your degree, without a training contract, and are looking for options. Should you wait an academic year for the SQE? Perhaps you have a post-university gap year in mind, or would like to get some law-related work experience before committing to the legal sphere entirely. As tempting as it is to embark on such a year with the expectation that the SQE will be waiting for you on the other side… don’t.

The SQE has been delayed once before, has not yet been approved for delivery in autumn 2021 by the LSB, and isn’t secure enough an option to be your end game just yet. If you have a more laissez faire approach to your legal career (i.e. you don’t mind when you start or how long it takes) then go for the gap year, with the awareness that it might go on for longer than a year. If you like to plan things month by month, it might be time to look at training contracts (which in turn means you’ll end up completing the GDL, LPC or both).

Verdict: LPC/GDL (unless timing isn’t an issue)

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Have you already started the GDL or LPC?

If you’re already midway through one of these courses, or have completed both and are on the hunt for training contracts, there’s no need to even think about the SQE. The route that you’ve chosen will still be a valid means of qualification up until 2032—so you can keep going with little fear of any repercussions.

Verdict: LPC/GDL

Do you have a role in a law firm, such as paralegal work? 

This is where things swing slightly in favour of the SQE. Despite the uncertainty of the start date, we do know one important nugget of information about the SQE—it goes hand in hand with Qualifying Work Experience. If you’re working as a paralegal, for citizens advice or a legal charity, or indeed are occupied in any other form of legal work, you can start “banking” your legal experience now. You need two years of it in total, from up to four providers, and you can acquire it before, during and after the SQE. If you’re already on this path, you could continue to move down it knowing that the experience will count further down the line. 

Verdict: SQE—just be aware that the start date might change.  

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