How to Become a Solicitor in the UK
For aspiring legal professionals pondering over how to become a solicitor in the UK, the roadmap is changing. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has laid out a timeline for a shift from the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE). With the LPC set to be phased out by 2026, those who hadn’t commenced a law degree or the LPC by September 2021 will find the SQE to be their requisite path to qualification. In this article, we’ll explore the distinctions between the LPC and the SQE, helping you navigate the evolving landscape of solicitor qualification.
The Legacy of the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
For decades, the LPC has been the cornerstone of solicitor training in the UK. It has served as a postgraduate diploma, designed to prepare law graduates for the practicalities of legal practice. Focused on developing procedural law skills and offering elective subjects, the LPC has provided a structured and comprehensive education, concluding with a training contract before qualification.
The Emergence of the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE)
In contrast, the SQE has been introduced as a more uniform and flexible assessment system. It consists of two stages: SQE1, which examines candidates’ legal knowledge through a series of tests, and SQE2, which assesses practical legal skills. A key component of the SQE route is the requirement to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE), which can be fulfilled in various legal settings.
Transition Period: LPC’s Sunset Clause
According to the SRA, although the LPC will continue to be offered until 2026, its availability is now contingent upon having commenced a law degree or the LPC before September 2021. This sunset clause ensures a transition period allowing current students to complete their journey on the familiar path. It’s an essential consideration for those within the LPC system, providing them with a clear timeline and assurance of the validity of their chosen route to qualification.
LPC vs SQE: Key Differences
Accessibility: The SQE widens access to the profession by allowing candidates from any academic discipline to sit the exams, provided they hold a degree or equivalent qualification or have substantial legal experience.
Flexibility: The SQE offers more flexibility not just in the route to qualification but also in the type of legal work experience that is recognised, which is not limited to training contracts.
Assessment Approach: Unlike the LPC’s course-based assessment, the SQE is purely exam-based, testing applied legal knowledge (SQE1) and practical skills (SQE2).
Preparatory Training: While the LPC is a full-fledged educational program, the SQE requires candidates to independently choose their preparation method, whether through self-study, online courses, or university-led programs.
The Future for Aspiring Solicitors
For new entrants to the field, the SQE is the path forward. It promises to streamline how to become a solicitor by creating a single, standardised route that emphasises practical experience and assessment. The SQE aims to not only maintain high standards in the profession but also to reflect the diversity and flexibility of the modern legal services market.
How to Become A Solicitor in UK
The transition from the LPC to the SQE signifies a landmark change in legal education and qualification. The LPC, with its rich history, continues to hold value for those already on its path, while the SQE ushers in a new era. As we approach 2026, the legal community watches with anticipation to see how the SQE will shape the future of solicitors in the UK.
The SQE Apprenticeship offers an efficient and flexible path to becoming a solicitor. This program lets you earn while you learn, with a competitive salary and practical experience alongside legal professionals. It’s a cost-effective way to achieve your dream of becoming a solicitor, combining education with hands-on training. Join the legal profession through the SQE Apprenticeship and take the first step towards a successful career.
For those starting their journey now, the SQE presents an opportunity to forge a legal career that is robust, diverse, and aligned with contemporary practice. Whichever path you are on, the goal remains constant—to uphold the integrity and competence that are the hallmarks of the UK legal profession.