Updated: Aug 27
These days, it only takes one look at the news to see the word ‘recession’. We know that a recession has a multitude of knock-on effects in day-to-day life, as the cost of living is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. This sadly extends onto students and recent graduates, such as law students and legal professionals who wish to qualify as solicitors. However, there are some ways to alleviate this financial pressure, and one way to achieve this is to consider taking the SQE rather than the LPC.
How does the SQE help?
The main way this helps is simply because taking the SQE instead of the LPC saves money. At present the costs for each course are:
SQE (for both LLB and non-LLB students) - £3,980
LPC (for LLB students) - £12,000-£17,000
LPC + GDL (for non-LLB students)– £19,000 - £30,000
This means that by taking the SQE, students can save up to £13,020. This is useful money that could be put towards living costs.
However, this is not the only financial benefit. The SQE has introduced qualifying work experience (QWE) in place of the traditional training contract. Qualifying work experience constitutes work like paralegal, apprenticeship work, working for a law clinic or at an advice centre such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. It is no secret that securing a traditional LPC training contract is one of the biggest hurdles LPC students face and can take years to achieve. This means that work will be more readily available due to the larger variation of jobs that fall under the requirements of QWE.
More importantly though, it means that there is the opportunity to start earning straight away as 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, too.
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 for candidates who decide to undertake their QWE at the same time as studying for the exams and may not have the time to attend in person classes as a result. The fact that learning can take place in their own time, outside of working hours makes the process more efficient. Another benefit is that the nature of QWE being practical legal work means that candidates may feel more comfortable with SQE content, and as a result may not need a full preparation course. Instead of a full course, candidates instead may save time and money by taking some tutoring sessions instead to consolidate and practice exam technique.
The LPC also had the requirement of choosing an elective module for the second exam which frequently posed a problem for students who had not yet secured a training contract, as it meant that the number of firms, they could apply to would be restricted based on their elective. However, the SQE does not follow the same structure, meaning that students can increase the number of firms they can apply to, which makes them more likely source work faster when they qualify as a solicitor than they may have if they took the LPC.
Overall, the SQE has the aim of making the route to becoming a solicitor more accessible, and this is certainly achieved, even during a recession. The financial benefits of taking the SQE rather than the LPC are undeniable and make it more desirable for students to kickstart their journey to becoming solicitors.