Changes to qualifying as a Solicitor or Barrister

Changes to affect undergraduate students starting law degrees and graduates starting law conversion courses from September 2021

There have been recent changes to routes to qualification as a solicitor or barrister which affect undergraduate students starting law degrees from September 2021 and graduates starting law conversion courses from September 2022.

For students currently registered on law degrees or conversion courses, the existing rules for qualification continue to apply.

  • See more information about qualification as a solicitor from the SRA on the SRA's website.
  • See more information for qualifying as a barrister from the BSB's website.

Changes for solicitors

From September 2021, anyone who wishes to qualify as a solicitor, but has not  started either a law degree or a conversion course, must follow a new route to qualification. The new route has five parts:

  1. Students must have a degree (or equivalent) – it can be in any subject.
  2. They must complete the Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) Part 1.
  3. They must complete the Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) Part 2.
  4. Students must complete 24 months of relevant training.
  5. Students must satisfy the SRA as to the suitability of their character.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no mandated order of steps, with the exception that SQE Part 1 must be passed before attempting SQE Part 2. In other words, the current proposals make it possible to take a degree during or after taking any of the SQE exams. Each person should consider carefully, with advice, the best steps to qualification.

The SQE Part 1 and Part 2 will be a national solicitors exam regulated by the SRA and undertaken at exam centres around the country.

Part 1 is proposed to be a series of computer-based exams assessing knowledge and understanding of core law and procedure. Some law degrees may prepare for this exam, some may not. Our law degrees will not be dedicated to preparing for this exam as we know that our students study with us in preparation for a whole range of careers not just as solicitors. That said, we know many students will be considering this route and our degrees will provide a headstart to help students have familiarity with the SQE Part 1 exam.

Part 2 is proposed to be a series of practical skills assessments. The SRA expects that students would be at the stage to take this exam after two years of work experience in a legal environment, though a student could attempt it with less experience if she thinks she has sufficient skills and experience. Students on our law courses will have opportunities to undertake practical and experiential activities and this is intended to give insights into what could be expected of students for the Part 2 exam.

Find out more from the SRA.

Changes for barristers

Anyone who wishes to qualify as a barrister must follow the route to qualification set out by the Bar Standards Board (BSB). The stages to qualification were revised in 2019. They do not make fundamental changes to the first stage to qualification - the academic component of the legal training stage. This means that in order to be eligible for the professional stage, a student must first have completed either a law degree or completed a non-law degree and a conversion course, either of which must cover core law modules. The LLB and Law Conversion courses at LSBU meet the requirements.

Find out more information from the BSB.

Meeting the needs of our students

LSBU continues to be committed to enabling access to the legal professions for people of all backgrounds. We work hard to create opportunities and learning for all our students to help realise their career goals. We have provided the qualifying law degree and the law conversion course for many years and will continue to offer courses that are relevant to professional qualification as a solicitor or barrister:

  • We have adapted our law degrees to provide a head-start with clinical and legal simulations as well as a taster of the type of examination for SQE Part 1.
  • We are currently revising our postgraduate qualifications to enable students to prepare fully for SQE Part 1 and gain some experience towards SQE Part 2.
  • We intend to offer a conversion course for non law graduates who want to qualify as a lawyer but need more time to decide which direction to take.

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