Starting out in the legal profession? Five top tips on what to consider when thinking about taking the SQE
In this article, Peter Liver, the Chief Operations Director for The College of Legal Practice, shares his thoughts on what to consider when thinking about the SQE and which course is right for you.
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new centralised series of exams that form a key part of qualifying as a solicitor, set to be introduced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in September 2021. With the introduction of the SQE, brings a level of complexity regarding what you should consider when deciding whether to take the SQE and researching the various preparation courses that are being provided.
Whatever doubts you might have about the right route to becoming a solicitor, these tips will help you feel confident about choosing the best qualification route for your situation and future career.
Research, research, research
There is a lot of information about the SQE available online which can be overwhelming for some. The SRA website has a lot of helpful information about the SQE and is generally the best place to start to find the most up to date information. You might find it helpful to speak to different course providers because SQE is new and so there is understandably still some level of uncertainty and misunderstandings about the qualification. Take time to gather as much information as you can before you decide on the route and the course that you think will be the most appropriate for you - it’s your future after all!
Don’t assume that the SQE is easy!
There is a myth that the SQE is a straightforward assessment particularly amongst those people who already have a background in law or who are already working as a paralegal. That is quite simply not the case! The SQE is a rigorous assessment process that you need to prepare very carefully for. It’s a series of examinations made up of two parts: one part is focused on knowledge and the other part is focused on skills. The SQE1 exams are a multiple-choice pass-fail assessment and you need to approach the preparation training with this in mind. Watch out - if you fail the exams, you will have to pay to sit it again!
Practice makes progress
The examinations for SQE1 are multiple choice, this kind of structured assessment might be new to you so you need to make sure that the course you take includes mock assessments. This is important because it will help you become familiar with the format of the examinations. It will also help you understand the principles of law and to think about applying your knowledge in the context of real-life scenarios in the workplace. A well-rounded course over several months is the best way to learn to connect those pieces together after lots of preparation and practice (there is no shortcut!)
Juggling work and learning? Choosing a course that’s flexible
Are you currently working and thinking about taking the SQE but not sure how to fit it in around your job? Or are you available for several months and prefer to study full-time? The SQE is a brand new route to qualification and I would never suggest anyone goes on a course that they’re unlikely to pass because of work commitments. The good news for people who are working is that there’s flexibility in the SQE prep courses that allows you to maintain a work and study balance. It’s worth bearing in mind that it would take a bit longer - around 20 weeks to complete the training part-time before taking each SQE assessment.
If you have the time and you’re able to study full-time and want to complete the qualification in a shorter period, you would be better suited to a course for each part of the SQE that runs over 10-13 weeks. It’s about finding what’s right for you.
New to law? It’s still possible to get qualified even if you don’t have a relevant qualifications or experience
Thinking about having a career change or switching your studies to join the legal profession? Don’t worry, there are courses available that are built and designed for people who haven’t done an undergraduate degree in law and there are plenty of people out there who are in the same position.
Before embarking on a course, it’s a good idea to think about the learning that you have to undertake to progress down the SQE route and the importance of having an understanding of the principles of law. Both of these are fundamental to being successful, not only in terms of passing the exam, but actually getting trained so that you can work effectively in the legal services market. If you don’t have a relevant degree in law, then don’t underestimate the importance of getting a good grounding before you start so that you can pass the two assessments with confidence. Ask the training providers about whether your level of legal knowledge is sufficient for the preparation course you are looking to undertake.
No one knows your career goals as well as you do and your gut instincts will be your most powerful ally – but if you still have any doubts then get in touch with our student services team to get some help and advice on the route that’s best for you.
The College of Legal Practice is running a range of SQE preparation courses. If you have any questions or require guidance on our courses, please contact us on email@example.com or call 020 3884 4112.