SQE, what, where, when and why?

SQE Background

In June 2020, the SRA Board agreed on the final structure of the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) concluding a nine-year review of solicitor training. It also confirmed that the Covid-19 crisis will not delay its introduction in September 2021. It has been a topic of hot debate in recent months which is one of the reasons we have decided to cover it in our newsletter; giving you essential information and ensuring you know that Accutrainee will continue to be your trusted partner throughout this major change in the legal profession.

By offering this centralised assessment for all aspiring solicitors, the SRA hopes to deliver greater assurance of consistent, high standards at the point of admission and the development of new and diverse pathways to qualification. While there has been plenty of negative headlines surrounding the SQE, such as the Law Gazette’s ‘Childs Play’ headline that outlined a law school deputy head’s 15 year old daughter achieving 48% in the first 25 questions of SQE part 1; it is too early to judge the exam. With any new examination structure there will undoubtedly be refinement and lessons to learn. What is clear is that the SRA’s SQE should be judged on whether it can achieve its goals.

Qualification Basics

Anyone looking to become a solicitor under the new system will need to:

  • have a degree in any subject (or equivalent qualification or experience).
  • pass two stages of SQE assessment, SQE1 and SQE2.
  • gain two years’ qualifying work experience that must be signed off by a solicitor.
  • meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.

The Structure

The SRA has confirmed the final structure of the SQE will consist of:

  • SQE1 which will test functioning legal knowledge across 13 areas of law and will consist of two multiple choice examinations, each with 180 questions.
  • SQE2 will consist of a single, uniform assessment for all candidates and will consist of 15 – 18 practical exercises assessing legal skills across several practice areas. It will include legal research, writing, advocacy, client interviewing and case analysis.


The first examination for the SQE1 will take place in November 2021 and SQE2 in April 2022. The SRA intends to run a dual process for qualification until the end of 2032 during which time it will be possible to qualify under either the new SQE route or the current training contract route. Effectively, if you have started or enrolled on a qualifying law degree, law conversion or equivalent before 1st September 2021; you can choose to qualify either through the existing route or the SQE. Otherwise, you will have to qualify via the SQE route.

There is no doubt, in the short term at least, there is likely to be considerable confusion for both firms and aspiring solicitors as they adjust to the different routes to qualification available. One thing which will be certain is Accutrainee’s continued commitment to delivering quality and diversity in the legal profession. It’s about the one thing that won’t be changing!


You only have to talk to someone who’s been involved in legal innovation over the last ten years to know that effecting change in the legal industry is challenging. It is a profession that by its very nature is risk adverse, slow to adopt change and has perfectionist tendencies. The SQE will certainly bring many challenges but it will also undoubtedly create exciting opportunities for significant improvements and innovation in the way we prepare and shape our future lawyers with genuine focus on service delivery, client needs and expectations.

Accutrainee will be focused on cutting through the confusion and giving our clients and candidates the best experience when it comes to hiring and training junior legal talent. As a company we are already fully committed to diversity and will continue to develop a consistent and inclusive experience for our lawyers of the future.

If you want further information, you can listen to the More from Law podcast that featured Susan as the guest in this insightful 30-minute episode:

If you have further questions about the impact of the SQE, please do not hesitate to contact us through the normal means.

Introducing some of our current talented trainees

Quality and diversity are intrinsic to Accutrainee. We are extremely selective about the candidates we put forward to clients. Applicants are required to successfully complete our thorough selection process giving quality assurance to the shortlists we prepare for clients. Here is a small selection of available trainees/candidates.

Accutrainee Spotlight

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Candidate A
Looking for his final seat. He has a French Baccalaureate, BA in Economics, BA in French Law and master’s in international Economic Law and achieved a commendation in both his GDL and LPC. Having gained some great experience in trade & export finance and financial regulation respectively this candidate is keen to move into a finance related seat.

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Candidate B
Looking for his third seat. He has a Law degree from the University of Warwick and has also completed an MSc in Politics and Government in the EU from LSE achieving a Merit. His most recent experience has been working for a boutique litigation firm gaining extradition and white-collar crime experience. Open to a range of opportunities to build his experience.

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Candidate C
Looking for his second seat. He has a BA in Modern History and master’s in Law, Business and Management and achieved a commendation in both his GDL and LPC. Having completed his first seat at a financial consultancy firm, he has gained some great experience in financial services regulation and is open to working in any area of law to build his experience.

Accuflex Lawyer Spotlight

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Candidate A
5 year PQE, Cambridge University educated, trained at Clifford Chance with three years’ experience at Dentons in dispute resolution and arbitration. Pragmatic and proactive team-player with excellent drafting, research and management skills. Returning from a sabbatical spent working at Unicef UK looking for interim or permanent opportunities.

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Candidate B
Accutrainee newly qualified Solicitor. Experience at three different Accutrainee clients including two law firms. His work has involved complex contentious matters as well as financial services and regulation. Prior to joining us as a Trainee he worked for Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Reed Smith which included litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution work. Looking for interim or permanent opportunities as an NQ.

Key Dates

8 September 2020 – London
GC Powerlist UK 2020

28 September 2020 – London
The Lawyer – Business Leadership Summit

28-29 September 2020 – London
Enterprise GC 2020

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