SRA introducing SQE in autumn 2021
The Solicitors Regulation Authority have announced that a new assessment to ensure consistent, high standards for qualifying solicitors – the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) – will be introduced in autumn 2021, with the candidate fee likely to range between £3,000 – £4,500.
Although previously planned to launch in autumn 2020, the SRA have responded to feedback from education providers and law firms who indicated a strong preference for a September 2021 launch, allowing them more time to develop training and transition to the new system.
The SRA have also published the provisional fee range with:
- SQE 1 – designed primarily to test the application of legal knowledge having fees in the range of £1,100 – £1,650, and
- SQE 2 – designed to test practical legal skills having fees in the range of £1,900 – £2,850.
The costs are based on an estimated 35 hours of assessment, including written tests, computer-based assessments and simulations such as mock client interviews. The SRA state that these costs are indicative and the eventual fee may be inside or outside this range.
The SRA state that the SQE offers more flexibility around training and work-based experience. This should help establish a competitive legal education market and give candidates more genuine choices about the route they take, such as solicitor apprenticeships, or law degrees that incorporate SQE training.
The SQE structure also aims to address the problem of the need to pay large up-front costs, up to £16,700 for a Legal Practice Course (LPC), with no guarantee of a training contract or becoming a solicitor.
The SRA have also launched a Facebook page entitled “Career in Law” to help inform aspiring solicitors about the SQE changes.