SQE vs. Traditional Qualifications: Unveiling the Key Differences

SQE vs. Traditional Qualifications: Unveiling the Key Differences


Aspiring solicitors have long pursued traditional qualifications to enter the legal profession. However, the landscape is evolving, and a new qualification is on the horizon: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). In this article, we will explore the key differences between the SQE and traditional qualifications, shedding light on what makes the SQE a unique and valuable pathway to becoming a solicitor.

1. Structure and Format

Traditional qualifications, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), have been the standard route to qualifying as a solicitor. These qualifications typically involve attending law school, completing coursework, and undertaking assessments.

On the other hand, the SQE follows a modular structure, with two stages: SQE 1 and SQE 2. SQE 1 consists of multiple-choice questions, testing candidates’ legal knowledge and understanding. SQE 2 assesses candidates’ practical skills, including client interviewing, advocacy, and legal research. The modular structure of the SQE offers a more flexible and targeted approach, allowing candidates to focus on specific areas of development.

2. Cost

One significant advantage of the SQE is its potential cost-effectiveness compared to traditional qualifications. The SQE eliminates the need for aspiring solicitors to complete expensive courses such as the LPC or GDL. While the exact costs of the SQE are still being finalized, it is expected to be a more budget-friendly option for individuals seeking to qualify as solicitors.

3. Work Experience

Traditional qualifications often require candidates to secure a training contract with a law firm, where they can gain valuable practical experience. However, securing a training contract can be highly competitive and challenging for many aspiring solicitors.

The SQE, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on work experience. Candidates will be required to have at least two years of qualifying work experience (QWE) before qualifying as a solicitor. This shift in focus allows aspiring solicitors to gain work experience in a more flexible manner, potentially broadening their exposure to different legal practice areas and enhancing their overall skill set.

4. Assessments

Assessments in traditional qualifications are typically conducted internally by the law school or university. These assessments may include coursework, written exams, and practical exercises such as mooting or negotiation simulations.

The SQE, in contrast, introduces a standardized national assessment system. This system ensures consistency and fairness across all candidates, regardless of their educational background. The SQE assessments are externally regulated, reinforcing the credibility and reputation of the qualification. It also provides a level playing field for aspiring solicitors, as all candidates will undergo the same rigorous assessment process.


The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) marks a significant shift in the route to becoming a solicitor. Its modular structure, potential cost-effectiveness, focus on work experience, and standardized assessments distinguish it from traditional qualifications. Aspiring solicitors now have more flexibility in their journey towards qualification, with the SQE offering a new, efficient, and accessible pathway.

If you are preparing for the SQE exams, make sure to check out our related articles for valuable resources:

SQE 1 Practice Exam Questions
SQE 1 Practice Mocks FLK1 FLK2
SQE 2 Preparation Courses
SQE 1 Preparation Courses
SRA SQE Exam Dates

Good luck with your journey to becoming a solicitor through the SQE pathway!






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