The legal profession has long been revered for its tradition, expertise, and commitment to justice. In the United Kingdom, solicitors play a crucial role in providing legal services, assisting clients, and upholding the rule of law. However, the pathway to becoming a solicitor has undergone a significant transformation with the introduction of Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE). This change, which came into effect in September 2021, has sparked conversations and debates within the legal community. In this blog, we will explore the SQE, its purpose, structure, and the implications it holds for aspiring solicitors and the legal profession as a whole.


The Need for Change


For many years, the traditional route to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales involved completing a law degree, followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC), and then a period of training known as a Training Contract. While this system produced competent solicitors, it was often criticized for its high cost and lack of standardized assessment.


The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) recognized the need for a more flexible, accessible, and consistent assessment process for aspiring solicitors. The SQE was conceived to address these issues, aiming to create a fairer, more inclusive system that would uphold the profession’s high standards.


The Structure of the SQE


The Solicitors Qualifying Exam consists of two stages: SQE1 and SQE2.


  1. SQE1: Assessment of Functioning Legal Knowledge

SQE1 is a computer-based assessment that tests candidates on their knowledge of the core legal principles and how they are applied in practice. It comprises two parts:


  1. Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK): This part assesses candidates on legal subjects such as contract law, tort law, property law, criminal law, and more. It aims to ensure that candidates have a strong foundation in key areas of law.


  1. Practical Legal Skills (PLS): PLS evaluates candidates’ skills in areas like legal research, legal writing, and drafting legal documents.


  1. SQE2: Assessment of Practical Legal Skills

SQE2 is a series of practical assessments designed to test candidates’ ability to apply legal knowledge to real-life scenarios. It includes tasks like client interviewing, advocacy, legal research, and drafting. SQE2 aims to evaluate candidates’ practical skills, ensuring they are ready to practice law effectively.


Implications and Benefits


The introduction of the SQE has several implications for aspiring solicitors and the legal profession:


  1. Standardization: The SQE creates a standardized assessment process, ensuring that all solicitors meet the same minimum standards of knowledge and competence.


  1. Accessibility: The SQE’s modular structure allows candidates to choose when and how they prepare for the exams, making it more accessible to a diverse range of individuals.


  1. Cost-Efficiency: The SQE may reduce the overall cost of qualification, as candidates can choose from a variety of preparation providers and materials.


  1. Flexibility: The SQE provides flexibility in the way candidates prepare for the exams, allowing them to study part-time or while working in legal roles.


  1. Practical Skills Focus: With a stronger emphasis on practical skills, the SQE ensures that solicitors are better prepared for the challenges of legal practice.


Challenges and Concerns


While the SQE offers numerous benefits, it is not without its challenges and concerns. Some critics worry that it may put too much emphasis on exam performance and neglect the development of soft skills essential for legal practice, such as client communication and teamwork. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential for inequality, as some candidates may struggle with the cost of exam fees and preparation materials.




The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exams represents a significant shift in the path to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. By focusing on standardized assessments and practical skills, the SQE aims to create a more accessible and inclusive route to the legal profession. While it is not without its challenges, it is a step towards a more equitable and efficient system that aligns with the evolving needs of the legal profession in the 21st century. As the legal community continues to adapt to these changes, the impact of the SQE on the future of solicitors will undoubtedly be a topic of ongoing discussion and analysis.