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Reddit Roundup: April 2024

Our roundup aims to give the much-needed answers to questions submitted on Reddit during April 2024. This includes questions around Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) and the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

By April Baniqued. Published 29 April 2024.

Here is a rundown of the questions we answer this month:

  1. How do I gain QWE?
  2. As a recent law graduate, will passing the SQE improve my legal employability?
  3. Should I cancel my SQE exam?

1. How do I gain QWE?

If you are looking to qualify to become a solicitor through the SQE pathway, you will need to complete at least two years’ worth (or equivalent) of full-time QWE. QWE is any experience where you give real-life legal services and get the necessary skills to become a solicitor. This can be completed before, during or after you take your SQE assessments.

When searching for QWE, here are four questions to consider:

  • What role do you want?
  • Can you use current/past work experience?
  • Does the experience qualify for QWE?
  • Where do I search for QWE?

What role do you want?

QWE is flexible. You can work in a range of roles in up to four organisations. They can be paid or voluntary roles

Here are examples:

  • In a law clinic
  • In a voluntary or charitable organisation or a law centre
  • A paralegal
  • A training contract
  • Placement during a law degree

Can you use current/past work experience?

You may find that you can use experience from a previous or current role. The SRA gives some questions to help check if your experience qualifies as QWE. Ask yourself if your role matches all the questions below, if so, it is likely to be QWE.

  • Does or did your job, role or experience involve providing legal services? The Legal Services Act 2007 (s. 12) defines legal activity.
  • Does or did your job, role or experience involve real-life legal services provision rather than stimulated legal services provision?
  • Have you been exposed to at least two competencies in the Statement of Solicitor Competence?
  • Has or will your job, role or experience be carried out in no more than four organisations?
  • Has or will your job, role or experience be at least two years full time or equivalent? We will not prescribe what full time (or equivalent) means.
  • Has or will your job, role or experience be confirmed by a solicitor or Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP)?

Does the experience qualify for QWE?

The SRA explains what requirements an experience needs to fulfil to qualify as a QWE. It must be signed off based on these. This is usually done by the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) or a qualified solicitor within your place of work, or if outside the organisation, a nominated solicitor that has direct knowledge of your work.

Chances are, no job advert will clearly say if the role counts as QWE. That is unless you are in a formal training contract. It is worth noting these competencies and matching them with the description of the job you’re interested in. This way you can ask the right questions during the interview. You should ask the employers if the role will count towards QWE, it is down to them if they believe it matches the requirements the SRA is looking for.

Keep in mind the level of exposure you will be getting to legal work with the roles. The quality of your QWE will decide if you will be successful in gaining an NQ role in the future.

Where do I search for QWE?

Now you’ve done your research, it’s time to start searching for the roles. Employers prefer long-term positions like a paralegal or legal executive role, so this should be the focus of your search.

Specialist legal job boards mostly advertise qualified positions. Instead, it is best to search for legal support roles on ‘regular’ job boards like Indeed and CV Library. If you are studying with us our  Careers Services has helpful workshops that cover this which you can find on ELITE.

2. As a recent law graduate, will passing the SQE improve my legal employability?

Whether passing the SQE helps with your chances of getting legal employment depends on the job you are interested in. It is best to look into the role and check the CV requirements. Most job adverts will include if passing the SQE is part of the criteria, it may be put as ‘desirable’ or ‘essential’.

If you’re eager to gain a training contract, employers will be looking at your experience as a whole as well as assessing your graduate potential.

For the paralegal route, companies will be match you against their candidate criteria. Many firms do find having a law degree desirable, but it is not essential in this role. It is extremely competitive, with some people becoming paralegals through the apprentice route or by having admin experience from financial services or insurance backgrounds.

For many jobs, it is best to first start assessing your skills and experience. If you have no office administration experience (this can be outside of law, in a volunteer or committee position) or no legal work experience, your chances of gaining a job solely based on your degree are very slim. Start addressing the gaps in your CV. It is best to do this during university then after graduating, you can look for a role that will build your professional work experience.

3. Should I cancel my SQE exam?

It is normal to feel anxious when preparing for the SQE, especially during the week leading up to the exams. You may even feel tempted to cancel it. This of course, entirely depends on you but it is always best to make an informed decision, especially since the pressure can easily make you doubt yourself.

One way you can check if you are ready is by regularly checking your level of progress. For our students, our SQE app can help with this. It includes many tests with a broad range of ‘single best answer questions’ (SBAQs), all based on the SQE1 syllabus. The app has predictive exam pass analytics. This is not only helpful for you to understand how things are going but also gives your lecturers helpful insight. Here are the links for the app for Android devices and for Apple devices.

Of course, it is also great to talk to your academic coach about your worries. They are there to help you with your academic struggles. Whether it be to simply listen to you or to even help you manage your time and workload. Our Welfare Advisors can help with emotional support. By having a one-to-one session, they can give you the resources to aid you in your learning journey.

If you do feel you need to cancel your test then you can reschedule the SQE1 and SQE2 written exams during the open booking window but you cannot reschedule the SQE2 oral assessment. Instead, you will have to cancel the entire SQE2 booking. This includes contacting the SQE Candidate Serves Team and then logging into your SQE account to book another slot. Keep in mind that seats are subject to availability for all of these exams.

 

For more help we encourage our students to talk to our Careers Service and anyone can browse through our SQE or employability pages which has lots of information on the subject.