Scottish solicitors hoping to qualify in England under the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (“QLTS”) have only until 20 April to register for the first stage exam under that process.
From September 2021 the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (“SQE”) will replace the QLTS for foreign lawyers wishing to requalify in England & Wales. It means that lawyers from elsewhere will requalify through the same exams as taken by solicitors who qualify domestically.
The SQE is being introduced for everyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales as a means of testing whether applicants meet the threshold standards set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for solicitor competences and legal knowledge. Like the QLTS, it will consist of a two part exam. The first part, as with the QLTS, will be in multiple choice format; the second, in place of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), will be a series of practical assessments of skills through written and oral tests. It will be possible to claim exemption from some of the requirements.
The SRA will not require candidates to complete any preparatory courses before sitting the SQE, nor to have any specific university degree, though SQE preparation courses will be available.
For QLTS applicants, the final sitting of the first part will be on 7 July 2021. Successful candidates will then have until 31 August 2022 to sit the OSCE and apply to the SRA for admission to the roll. They will also have the option to sit the second part of the new SQE instead of OSCE, in which case they will have until 31 August 2023 to complete their qualification. Those who fail that sitting will require to follow the SQE route.
Lawyers who have already passed the multiple choice stage of the QLTS have similar options; there are three remaining sittings of the OSCE.
The first sitting of part 1 of the SQE is in November 2021 and of part 2 in April 2022.