As we all now know, clearing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) administered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the first step to becoming a practicing solicitor in England and Wales.
This does not allow you to practice in UK courts as a barrister, however, which involves an entirely different process. As a solicitor, you can take instructions from clients and advise them on legal courses of action. A solicitor is simply a qualified legal practitioner who deals in legal matters without going to court, which is the domain of a barrister.
In this mail, I would like to talk about a few basic criteria and challenges of the SQE, which we will deal with in detail at our upcoming bootcamp on how Indian lawyers can crack the SQE.
So here are the basics:
Minimum eligibility for SQE
- To attempt the exam, you need to hold a law or other degree recognised in the UK
- The UK has an 8-level classification for all educational qualifications. Your education to be eligible for SQE must be Level 6 or above, that is, you must be a graduate
- If you are a law graduate, you can attempt the SQE. It is not necessary to have cleared the All India Bar Exam, though that will be essential if you wish to be “dual-qualified” for practice in both India and UK
- If you are a law student, you can start preparing and following the insights that we share, and attempt the SQE once you earn your law degree
- Non-law graduates can also attempt the SQE. But before registration, they will need to obtain two years of full-time legal service experience in volunteering legal advice or paralegal work. The process can be very cumbersome if you are not a legal professional
Who should be attempting the SQE?
- Indian and other overseas lawyers or law students who want to migrate to the UK and build a legal career there
- Those who have always wanted to work abroad. Or those who have family in the UK, or are living there with a spouse, and want to know how to start a legal career there
- Those exploring whether the UK is the right destination to practice as a lawyer
- Lawyers who want to be dual-qualified because that helps to attract more international clients and get jobs in top MNCs or international law firms
Take it step by step
- Develop relevant skills and acquire the knowledge needed to practice in the UK
- Start preparing for the SQE
- As you prepare, you should ideally hunt for remote freelance jobs
- Build a track record in the UK through remote jobs or freelance work
- Once you clear the SQE, you can significantly raise the price for your services
- The goal is to start earning GBP 4,000 per month, at which point it will be super easy to get a business visa or get someone to sponsor you for an employment visa
- When you arrive in the UK, you are thus not only qualified to practice there, but will have an existing professional network and a solid track record
Problems you may face while preparing for the SQE
- No clear step-by-step roadmap to get a job abroad
- Insufficient financial resources to live in the UK, so a visa application is rejected
- No knowledge of how to get a job, or how to get an employer to sponsor a visa ‘
- No track record of previous work in this jurisdiction
- Undue faith in super expensive LL.M programmes which neither teach high-demand skills nor prepare you for SQE, but can cost as much as INR 50 lakh
- Difficulty in managing SQE preparation + learning high-demand skills + building a track record alongside studies or practice
- Trying to save money by studying from textbooks and ending up paying INR 40,000-60,000 for the books alone
Having gone through all of this, do you think you are qualified to attempt the SQE all on your own? Especially considering the various other activities you need to perform simultaneously?
Here are some more basic issues which we have often faced when it comes to SQE:
- I have a degree and licence to practice only in India. I do not think I am eligible for the SQE. It is only for lawyers based out of England and Wales.
- I am a first-generation lawyer and have practised in various courts in India. I’ve hit a plateau and do not know how to grow my practice further
- I think the SQE requires a superior degree of knowledge and acumen and it is not my cup of tea
- I want to practice in the UK, but I don’t know how to do it
- I think I am too young to start preparing for the SQE
- I have a licence to practice in India and I want to clear the SQE in my first attempt. I have heard that it is a very difficult examination for a lawyer who has not practised in England and Wales
To resolve all such issues and more, come to our free, live, and online bootcamp on How Indian lawyers can crack the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, from June 17-19, 2023, 6.00-9.00 pm IST daily.
Not only will we clear all your doubts, but also provide a detailed roadmap of the SQE syllabus and how to tackle it, so that you can clear the exam on your first attempt.
The total cost of the SQE assessments is GBP 3,980 (INR 4 lakh approx). But you have to pay for every attempt you make. So the goal is to not make more than one attempt.
Our bootcamp will tell you what to study, how to study, and when to study. And the next steps to take once you have mastered the basics.
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