SQE: A Training Option on the Path to Becoming a Solicitor

Winn Group offers a wide range of training and development opportunities, including the SQE, across the company, regardless of career path.

Actively seeking to expand our portfolio of training routes, we have added the SQE to our options.

With the aim to become a qualified solicitor, this training route is proving a popular addition alongside the numerous training contracts that are awarded throughout the year to internal applications.

Six members of staff have already started – Olivia Mapp, Holly Freeman, Hannah Brain, Megan David, Richard Langston, and Emily Cairns - with two more due to join them in the coming months in Brad Wallace and Sherisse Mugadzaweta.

We caught up with some of those on the SQE to find out more:

What does the SQE entail?

Brad Wallace: The SQE is a centralised examination split into two stages: SQE1 and SQE2. SQE1 tests the student's knowledge and understanding of various legal practice areas through two separate exams. SQE2 tests more practical legal skills, such as client interviewing, advocacy, legal writing, drafting and research, and case and matter analysis. This exam involves completing both oral and written assessments. Completing the SQE apprenticeship with Winn Solicitors means I will be doing these exams while I am still working at the company.  

Holly Freeman: The SQE is the solicitor qualifying exams, it is the new route to qualify as a solicitor. There are about six exams at the end of studying and you also need to have two years of “qualifying experience” which you gain whilst working. I applied for this route as I did not complete the LPC, so it is the most accessible route for me to take to qualify.

Olivia Mapp: The SQE requires you to be in the office four days a week and to study on the fifth day. The studying on your nominated day is quite intense. It requires a large amount of reading, as well as completing a variety of tasks and a weekly practice test. The topics we study vary from week to week.

Why did you apply for this course?

Richard Langston: Like some people, I didn’t study for the LPC after my degree knowing that the new SQE would be brought in to replace it. Even before I joined Winns, I was studying towards the SQE 1 exams in my own time. It was quite a daunting task, not to mention expensive, and so when I saw the SQE Apprenticeship programme being offered by Winns, I knew it was a fantastic opportunity to qualify whilst still working. Another great benefit of this route is the Legal Essentials Course. For those of us who graduated with a Law degree more than three years ago (or if you don’t have a law degree), the SQE Apprenticeship offers a 22-week recap of the seven core modules of Law which puts you in a strong position for the SQE exams.

Emily Cairns: I applied for this route as an alternative to completing the LPC and then a Training Contract. As I had not previously completed the LPC, having just completed an undergrad degree in law, this is the best route to enable me to qualify as a Solicitor.

Megan David: As someone who did not have the LPC, the SQE was a fantastic alternative to qualify rather than the Training contract which I would not be eligible for unless I did the LPC first. It gives me the ability to work full time in the office four days a week and have a dedicated study day in preparation for all of the assessments. As someone more suited to exams rather than coursework, the SQE is also suitable for this reason as that is how the majority of the SQE is assessed.

Sherisse Mugadzaweta: During my last year of university, I was weighing up the options of whether to complete the LPC and a master’s or to wait for the SQE. On the basis that the SRA carried out significant work including consultations and reviews to produce and implement this process to remove barriers to the profession and to improve the route to qualification, I decided that was the route I wanted to take.

How is it different from other training routes at the company?

Emily Cairns: Unlike the traditional training contact, this is an apprenticeship as the qualification is completed alongside training in the firm. Therefore, one ‘study day’ a week is dedicated to SQE work. This allows for flexibility and helps us to manage our time efficiently.

Olivia Mapp: I think there is more commitment to studying than if you were to do the traditional training contract. It requires more cooperation between the University of Law and Winns as well, as supervisors have to attend meetings every 12 weeks to discuss my progression, both at work and on the course.

Richard Langston: I don’t know too much about the other routes however the SQE route is free, and as well as qualifying as a Solicitor, the course also allows you to add on a few extra modules at the end for you to obtain a Masters in Law (LLM), all at no further cost! There are also summer schools and boot camps that you can attend so you are prepared for the exams.

Do you think it is a good initiative?

Holly Freeman: The SQE is 100% a good initiative, the purpose of the SQE was to make access to becoming a solicitor easier so Winn allowing the apprenticeship allows more people in the business to progress.

Brad Wallace: I think this is a great initiative introduced by Winns. This is a good opportunity for people who are not in a position financially to do the SQE to still have a chance at becoming qualified. The apprenticeship format is useful because the SQE will teach me skills which I can then apply to my job in Vehicle Damage. This can vary from improving my writing quality, to also my interactions with clients and general legal knowledge.

Sherisse Mugadwazeta: The introduction of the SQE is a really good initiative. I think that the different routes that Winns offers their staff to gain qualifications and progress their careers make staff feel valued and recognised for their contribution to the business.

Olivia Mapp: Yes, I do. It is great that a new path to qualify has been introduced for those of us who are unable to do so the traditional way. In the long term, all new staff entering the business will be without an LPC given that is being phased out. I think it is essential for the business to offer the SQE if they want to maintain the focus that is placed on career progression within the business. I also think it is an excellent way to draw in new recruits.

Richard Langston: The SQE is set to replace the traditional LPC route to qualifying as a solicitor. As more and more firms are starting to make the switch, it is fantastic to see Winn Group already embracing this change with this offering, which in turn is only going to attract more talent to the business. On top of this, for those people who didn’t study Law at university but have since found a passion for the work we do, the SQE Apprenticeship is still open to you providing a route for you to qualify as a solicitor (without all the extra student debt!).

Emily Cairns: I think this is an excellent initiative introduced as it enables employees like myself, who have not already studied the LPC, to qualify whilst being able to work simultaneously.

Megan David: Yes, it is a great option for people who work full-time but are aiming to become qualified and also who do not have an LPC, so for someone like me, who came to Winns with only my undergraduate degree, this initiative has given me the ability to do something I would not be able to do otherwise.