ClickCease

SQE Qualifying Work Experience

Prospective candidates can find comprehensive overview about the SQE qualifying work experience for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).This overview will include key details about the work experience requirements, types of qualifying work placements, how to record and reflect on your experiences, and tips for finding suitable opportunities.

About SQE Qualifying Work Experience

If you are trying to qualify as a solicitor through the SQE route, you will need to have completed at least 2 years full time qualifying work experience (or “QWE”). This work experience works in the same way as the now more traditional training contract. However, the QWE gives candidates more flexibility with regard to becoming a solicitor as any “qualified” work experience can count toward qualifying as a solicitor.

What is SQE Qualifying Work Experience

By qualifying work experience, we mean any work which involves providing legal services or any legal type activity. An example of this may be working as a paralegal in your local law firm or being involved in legal work at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Since you need to do 2 years of QWE to qualify as a solicitor alongside passing your SQE 2, it is recommended that you undertake legal work experience in periods where there are no exams or before and after you complete your SQE 2.

It must be noted that QWE does not need to be undertaken continuously and can be gained in up to four organisations whether it be paid or volunteering work. This makes qualifying as a solicitor incredibly flexible and will mean that you will learn practical skills through QWE alongside those which you will obtain on your SQE studies.

Where can I obtain Qualifying Work Experience

QWE can be obtained anywhere. You can obtain QWE in England and Wales but also overseas! As long as all QWE is legally related (whether it be with regard to another country’s law), this will count towards to your QWE.

For example, if you are based in France, any legal experience to do with the French legal system will qualify as QWE and this will be taken into account when you enrol as a solicitor in England and Wales.

How to Evidence Qualifying Work Experience?

All your QWE will need to be evidenced. To evidence this you will need to have your particular role confirmed by a solicitor of England and Wales or Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP). Another solicitor or COLP from another organisation which may not be same organisation as the one you may have worked for, will also be applicable.

However, this solicitor (or COLP) will need to have reviewed any work you have completed and any feedback you would have received from a supervisor or from the organisation which you have worked for. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep a record (through a journal or through the template on the SRA website). It must be noted that a barrister of England and Wales is unable to confirm your QWE unless they are also a solicitor.

The evidence that will need to be reviewed and confirmed by a solicitor or COLP will be the length of work experience you have completed; details on whether your work involved providing legal services as well as having had the opportunity of developing some competences for solicitors (a minimum of two will be required) and; that there were no issues during your work experience which would put your character or suitability to be admitted as a solicitor in question.

Competences for Solicitors

All your QWE will need to be evidenced. To evidence this you will need to have your particular role confirmed by a solicitor of England and Wales or Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP). Another solicitor or COLP from another organisation which may not be same organisation as the one you may have worked for, will also be applicable.

However, this solicitor (or COLP) will need to have reviewed any work you have completed and any feedback you would have received from a supervisor or from the organisation which you have worked for. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep a record (through a journal or through the template on the SRA website). It must be noted that a barrister of England and Wales is unable to confirm your QWE unless they are also a solicitor.

The evidence that will need to be reviewed and confirmed by a solicitor or COLP will be the length of work experience you have completed; details on whether your work involved providing legal services as well as having had the opportunity of developing some competences for solicitors (a minimum of two will be required) and; that there were no issues during your work experience which would put your character or suitability to be admitted as a solicitor in question.

How Qualifying Work Experience Linked to the SQE

To ultimately qualify as a solicitor (currently), you will need to pass the SQE 1 and SQE 2 exams as well as completing your QWE. The traditional and alternative route would be to have completed your Legal Practice Course (LPC) and obtaining a training contract. To understand the differences between the LPC and the SQE courses please look at our blog on the SQE or LPC.

How to Record Your Qualifying Work Experience

To record your QWE you will need to go to the SRA website. Here, you will be able to give details of your QWE as well as further details such as the name and SRA number of a solicitor or COLP.

Lawyers Already Qualified Abroad

If you are a lawyer undertaking the SQE exams and you are already qualified abroad, you will not need to complete QWE. However, you will still be expected to complete the SQE1 and SQE2 if you wish to enrol as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Can Past Work Experience Be Used?

If you have undertaken work experience before starting your SQE studies, you may be able to claim this work experience as QWE.

There is no limit for the amount of time you are able to claim QWE, so long as it qualifies as QWE. It is advised, that you keep in touch with your previous employer(s) to see if you could confirm your work experience. As a result, you will not need to have to spend more time than you need to on obtaining QWE.

Furthermore, it is advised that you record any legal related work as if there is no record it will not be evidenced and will therefore not be able to be confirmed as QWE.

Where Do I start?

If you are yet to complete QWE, try look for any role predominantly involving legal work such as:

  • Working as a legal researcher
  • Work involved on a training contract
  • At a voluntary or charitable organisation
  • Working in a law clinic
  • Placement during a law degree

More Information

For more information about obtaining SQE qualifying work experience please visit the SRA website and The Law Society website

SQE Exam Dates

To find out more information about the SQE exam dates:

Book SQE Exam

Anybody wanting to take the SQE exams needs to register with the SRA by creating an account.

To start the SRA registration process:

SQE Notes and SQE Practice Questions

To purchase SQE notes and SQE practice questions for SQE1 and SQE2: 

Disclaimer:

Please note that the information provided herein is subject to change at any time without prior notice. Changes may occur due to modifications in policies, regulations, or other factors that impact the SQE assessments and related processes. We recommend regularly checking the official Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) website and SRA SQE Updates for the most up-to-date information. We are not responsible for any discrepancies between the information contained herein and the latest updates provided by the SRA or other official sources.

Trusted by students and future trainees at top schools and Legal 500 law firms

The University Of Law
coventry law school
The legal 500

Brigitte’s FLK – For Comprehensive SQE Notes and SQE Practice Questions

Stuvia Bestseller Law Revision Notes