Overseas Student Looking to Qualify in the UK

Overseas Student Looking to Qualify in the UK

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Overseas Student Aiming to Qualify in the UK

So, you may be an overseas student who has just finished their degree, is looking beyond the horizon and imaging your life as a solicitor in the UK. Here we will explain what you need to may need in order to accomplish your goal of becoming a solicitor in the UK.

Requirements in Becoming a Solicitor from the Perspective of an Overseas Student

In order to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales as an overseas student, you will need to:

  • Hold a degree in any subject equivalent qualification which could come in the form of an apprenticeship or work experience.
  • Complete both the SQE1 and the SQE2
  • Complete two years of qualifying work experience (QWE)

Already Qualified as a Solicitor in Another Country?

If you have already qualified as a solicitor in another country, you may be looking at qualifying as a solicitor in the UK. Here, we are talking about requalification. In order to do this, you will still need to complete both the SQE1 and SQE2.

Under the old system you had to qualify as a solicitor through the Qualified Lawyers Transfers Scheme (QLTS) whereby you had to take the QLTS multiple choice test (MTC). Unfortunately, if you have already passed this and have not undertaken any SQE exams or been admitted as a solicitor on the date of reading this, you will have to undertake both the SQE1 and SQE2 exams. The QLTS MTC is not equivalent to passing the SQE1 as unlike the SQE1 it does not measure your knowledge on procedural subjects such as Business Law and Property Practice. However, you may still be able to apply for an exemption of the SQE1 or SQE 2 by showing that you have a qualification or experience equivalent to the particular SQE you wish to be exempt from. Furthermore, you can be exempt depending on where you are qualified. For example, if you are a fully qualified solicitor in Ireland, you will be fully exempt from taking the SQE.

Qualifying Work Experience Under the SQE

It must be noted that under the SQE2, you will need to undertake 2 years of qualifying work experience even if you are an overseas student or solicitor. Luckily, given that you can complete both SQEs wherever you are in the world you can actually undertake qualified work experience in the country that you are in. The qualifying work experience does not necessarily need to cover English and Welsh law but it is recommended that this work experience is involved in legal services and evidenced so that there is a higher chance that it can be considered as qualifying work experience.

Why Take the SQE?

The SQE is a new and affordable way of achieving a qualification which will give you a vast number of opportunities in the legal world. Some of the biggest law firms in the world are situated in England and therefore there is a lot of demand for lawyers who are qualified in English and Welsh law. The beauty of the SQE is that, wherever you are, you are able to take it and prepare for it. Therefore, the SQE is a very interesting prospect for an overseas student as it gives them the opportunity to become a solicitor in England and Wales, without necessarily having to qualify as a solicitor in their own country.

Where to Start?

The SQE itself is not a course in itself. The SQE is a set of exams which give you recognised qualifications. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you undertake preparation to complete the SQE. There are many training providers which can offer this with their preparation courses differing on price and length. If you are unsure as to how the SQE is constructed or you wish to apply, please check out our blogs on how the SQE is structured and on how you can apply.

For those seeking authoritative information on the SQE, especially qualified lawyers and overseas students, the information offered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) are indispensable. This resource is tailored to address the specific needs and questions of overseas students and lawyers who are already qualified in other countries, offering a clear understanding of the steps, requirements, and expectations for qualifying as a solicitor in the UK through the SQE pathway. 


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