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Our Employability Service will help you to achieve your career and work experience goals. From support with job applications and preparation for interviews, to four weeks guaranteed qualifying work experience (QWE) opportunities and mentoring, we’ll ensure you’re fully prepared for your future career as a solicitor.
As part of the SQE route to practice, you will need to complete a minimum of two years’ Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) before you can qualify as a solicitor. This can be completed with up to four different legal employers at any point during the qualification process.
To help you progress your legal training and prepare you for your career as a solicitor, we’re offering four weeks guaranteed QWE within our Legal Advice Clinics to our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) and MA Law (SQE1) students. We have SQE covered.
As well as getting to put your theory into practice and develop some of the competences that are required to practise as a solicitor, you’ll also be providing valuable free legal advice and representation to members of the community who, due to financial hardship, would not otherwise be able to access such advice.
QWE can be obtained in either voluntary or paid work that involves providing legal services. QWE is possible, but less likely, where experience is limited to a single task. Examples of QWE include ‘training roles’ and a number of legal positions, such as paralegal, volunteering at a law centre and some university law clinics or Pro Bono projects. Work experience which meets the above criteria and provides the opportunity to develop relevant solicitor skills and competencies can then be confirmed by a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), or a solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales (SRA). The COLP or solicitor should have the knowledge of the legal work that has been undertaken.
You can apply directly for legal roles, such as a paralegal position, which may subsequently count as qualifying work experience. Alternatively, you may intend to apply for the graduate trainee roles in law firms (what some will still refer to as a training contract). If you're applying for these latter positions, you'll need to understand the timetable of applications - which can be two to three years in advance of when you intend to start as a trainee. Obviously, you might obtain a position, such as a paralegal role, and use this as a springboard to apply for a trainee position rather than register the paralegal work as your qualifying work experience.
Yes. Experience gained with a former or current employer can be used as QWE, as long as it meets the criteria and can be signed off as required.
If you're intending to use historic work experience for QWE purposes, it could be useful to speak to the organisation, before submitting any details to the SRA, to find out who might be best placed to confirm your experience in case, for example, a former manager or supervisor has since left.
There is a risk that those being asked to confirm your experience may not be able to access records about your work in the future. Therefore, you should aim to keep records of your own QWE as well as reflecting on the competencies you are developing. Your organisation may have its own template for recording QWE and competency development. Where this is not available the SRA also have a template you can use.
In most cases yes, although it depends what else you would be doing with that time and how it fits with your wider career strategy. Four weeks’ work with real clients can be articulated positively in most CVs.
All Pro Bono opportunities, whether or not they are part of QWE, are invaluable for gaining practical work experience, developing skills for legal practice and understanding essential professional ethics. We know from experience how employers have viewed this as a differentiator amongst candidates in recruitment processes.
Qualifying work experience (‘QWE’) is the period of practical, work-based, experience which needs to be undertaken to qualify as a solicitor. The regulations set out by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) state that qualifying work experience is work undertaken:
It can be helpful to consider qualifying work experience in two ways:
To have QWE confirmed you will need to submit details of the experience via the MySRA website. you will be asked to provide details of the organisation at which you worked, the type of experience gained, the length of time worked, and the name and SRA number of the solicitor who will be able to confirm this experience. The SRA have detailed information on their website along with a helpful video.
You can only register work experience that has been completed, and you only need to do this by the time you apply for admission as a solicitor. Therefore, it is not a requirement to record QWE as soon as you complete it, and it may be in your interest not to do so as you may wish to choose which experience you subsequently use as QWE.
The competencies expected are set out by the SRA and cover essential qualities required of a solicitor, such as the ability to:
It is important to remember that the SQE examinations assess your skills, legal knowledge and competence. The only requirement of QWE is that it provides you with the opportunity to develop two or more of these competencies. You can find detailed information about the competencies on the SRA website
You can undertake QWE anywhere that meets the criteria set out by the SRA – not just law firms, but in inhouse legal departments, charities and voluntary organisations. This can be in the UK or overseas and, as you can obtain QWE in up to four organisations, you can combine experience in a number of organisations to build up the required 2-years’ experience.
However, don’t lose sight of the fact that QWE represents your opportunity to obtain the experience, skills, insight and training you need to succeed at the start of your career, and in the area or law or type of organisation you want to specialise in. You should therefore think carefully about what portfolio of QWE will work best for you: building up a range of experience in different organisations, or qualifying via a single, structured, 2-year position with a single legal organisation.
If you intend to build up a range of QWE, you will need to consider how any opportunities, will meet your wider career objectives:
Students studying the MA Law (SQE1) and LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) courses can apply for four weeks of voluntary QWE in a structured programme run by the Academic Clinical Legal Education Team. This takes place within set times (at the end of studies on a
full-time course, or in between years 1 and 2 on a part-time course).
The exact nature of the opportunities and the skills you will have the opportunity to develop cannot be determined in advance, as these are fluid and based on real cases.
A formal certificate will be issued to you when you have completed your QWE. This is not a confirmation of QWE but will show the details of the solicitor who would be contacted by the SRA if you include it in your application for membership as part of your two years’ QWE experience
This is dependent on demand – where QWE is not available at your local campus, there is an option to do it via online methods
Yes. Always check with our International Student Support Team for specific advice and guidance, but our QWE programme is open and accessible to all students on the relevant courses.
Yes. We already support many disabled students and our QWE programme is open and accessible to all students on the relevant courses.
No, the QWE included in courses at The University of Law is not compulsory.
If you choose not to, are studying a non-qualifying course or have not applied in time if studying a qualifying course, you will still have access to numerous developmental
opportunities during your time at the University, including a wide range of Pro Bono schemes covering many different areas of law.
The duration and timing of these opportunities is flexible and can fit in with other personal commitments. For some students this is more appealing, with the opportunity to choose which schemes they wish to participate in. Whilst some of these opportunities may technically equate to QWE, they are a relatively low number of hours, and therefore some students do not use this to evidence their QWE.
Checks on academic record will be undertaken for all QWE students as there is an obligation to verify that no academic offences have been committed during the time that the student has claimed QWE.
Depending on the SQE course you choose to study with us, you’ll receive different levels of support to help you on your journey towards becoming a solicitor.
Click the image below to view our interactive infographic
We’ll support you every step of the way. From our award-winning Careers and Employability Service, to help funding your studies, we’ll support your career ambitions as well as SQE success.
We’re so confident you’ll succeed when you study our LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) that if you don’t obtain a job in nine months after completing your course you'll get 100% of your fees back, made up of 50% as cashback, plus 50% as credit towards another course.
You may be uncertain about which route or course is best for you. We’ve put together a useful tool to help you understand the different options available at The University of Law and make the best choice for you. If you’d like more advice, or to talk about your individual circumstances, please email us at [email protected].
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