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The advantages of the SQE for paralegals and apprentices

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

By Lily Edwards

The introduction of the SQE, which will eventually replace the LPC, has come with many benefits. The overall aim is to make the route to qualifying as a solicitor more accessible, and this is achieved in a number of ways, many of which are directly beneficial to candidates who are paralegals and apprentices.

The most direct advantage is the cost.

To compare:

- SQE cost (for both LLB and non-LLB students) - £3,980

- LPC cost (for LLB students) - £12,000-£17,000

- LPC + GDL cost (for non-LLB students)– £19,000 - £30,000

This means that the overall cost of the exams is more accessible for paralegals and apprentices who are earning but may not have the salary to fund up to £17,000 - £30,000 over only a two-year period. In turn, this means that these candidates are able to start their journey to qualifying as solicitors much sooner than they would with the LPC.

Furthermore, the SQE has replaced the requirement of the traditional training contract with qualifying work experience (QWE). This is an advantage to paralegals and apprentices who are already working, as their work already constitutes the requirements of QWE. It’s also worth noting that the SQE1 and SQE2 can be taken alongside QWE, meaning no time off work is needed, apart from on exam days. An added benefit of the SQE is that there are multiple opportunities throughout the year to sit the exams. This is helpful as it gives paralegals and apprentices the opportunity to take the exams when it suits them, rather than trying to cram in exams and work during a particularly busy period. This is helpful as there is no interruption to the work life, and instead the SQE can be seen as an added commitment to progression in work. In turn, this not only means the pressure of securing a traditional training contract is relieved, but also gives the opportunity to learn at the same time.

There is of course, the chance that these paralegals and apprentices will have the chance to progress as solicitors at the firms they are currently working at when they complete the SQE. However, even if these candidates decide to change jobs throughout the period, they take the SQE, it is possible to work in up to four corporations as long as it fulfils the criteria of QWE and makes up a 2-year period. This gives paralegals and apprentices the opportunity to gain other experience, for example working at a law clinic or with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, even just for a couple of months, while still making up QWE.

There is also no recommended preparation course for the SQE exams, but one major benefit is that there are courses available online. This is helpful to paralegals and apprentices who may not have the time to attend in person classes. This also means no time off work is needed, as learning can take place in their own time, outside of working hours. Due to the nature of paralegal and apprentice work, these candidates may feel more comfortable with SQE content, meaning they do not need a full preparation course. Instead of a full course, candidates instead may save money by taking some tutoring sessions instead to consolidate and practice exam technique.

Overall, the SQE has many advantages. However, these advantages are more prominent for paralegals and apprentices. The financial elements of the SQE being cheaper than the LPC is the most direct advantage. However, the element of QWE is also beneficial and efficient, as it provides the opportunity to speed up the journey to becoming a solicitor, whilst also relieving some of the traditional pressure of finding, and funding a traditional training contract.

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