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SRA finalises new exam regulations while boosting qualifying work experience supervision

We have approved the regulations which bring into force the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) while making changes to bolster assurances around qualifying work experience. The SQE is a new assessment to make sure all those entering the profession meet consistent, high standards.

In May, we consulted on the regulations needed to bring the SQE into effect. We have now confirmed the four elements needed to qualify. Everyone will have to have a degree or equivalent, have passed both parts of the SQE, undertaken two years’ qualifying work experience, and demonstrated satisfactory character and suitability.

We have confirmed that qualifying work experience must be signed off by a solicitor. We have responded to concerns that a solicitor from another organisation might not know enough about a candidate’s work, and have made changes so that a solicitor in this position would need to have reviewed the candidate’s work and received feedback from the candidate’s supervisor.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Our focus is on consistent, high standards. The new SQE will help boost trust that those who join the profession are safe to practise.

“We have listened to the feedback from the profession on the importance of qualifying work experience and made changes to how that is supervised. Our new approach to qualifying work experience will give candidates real flexibility, address the current training contract bottleneck and give the profession confidence that new solicitors have benefitted from the training that only the workplace can provide.”

The regulations also confirm our approach to qualified lawyers, such as those who work overseas, who want to apply to practise as solicitors in England and Wales. All qualified lawyers will need to take the SQE unless they can establish that their qualification and experience are equivalent in content and standard to the SQE.

We will now ask the Legal Services Board to approve the regulations. If approved, we expect to confirm the appointment of an assessment provider next spring. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to get the detail of the assessment right.

Our consultation responses and regulations can be found here:

Go to the responses and regulations

More information about the Solicitors Qualifying Examination can be found here;

Go to the Training for Tomorrow pages