SQE for International Lawyers: Navigating the Exam and Licensing Process

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SQE for International Lawyers: Navigating the Exam and Licensing Process

Are you an international lawyer looking to practice in the UK? The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a crucial step in the process of becoming a qualified solicitor. Understanding the exam and the licensing process is essential to successfully navigate this new chapter in your legal career. In this article, we will provide you with valuable information on how to prepare for the SQE, what to expect during the exam, and the steps to obtain your solicitor’s license.

Understanding the SQE

The SQE is a comprehensive assessment designed to test the knowledge and skills necessary to practice law in England and Wales. It replaces the previous Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) and offers a standardized approach for both domestic and international candidates. The exam consists of two stages: SQE1 and SQE2.


The first stage of the SQE focuses on evaluating your functioning legal knowledge. It is composed of two separate papers: Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) and Practical Legal Skills (PLS). The FLK paper assesses your knowledge of subjects such as contract law, criminal law, and property law, while the PLS paper tests your ability to apply legal principles to practical scenarios.

To prepare for the FLK paper, you should consider reviewing past exam papers, textbooks, and online resources. It is important to familiarize yourself with the key legal principles and concepts covered in the exam. The PLS paper, on the other hand, requires you to apply your legal knowledge to practical scenarios. This can be achieved through practice questions and simulated exercises.

For more insights on how successful SQE candidates approached their preparation, you can read 47 Student Testimonials: Insights from Successful SQE Candidates.


The second stage of the SQE assesses your practical legal skills and professional ethics. It consists of a series of practical assessments, including client interviewing, advocacy, legal research, and drafting. These assessments are designed to evaluate your ability to apply your legal knowledge in real-life situations.

To effectively prepare for the SQE2, time management is crucial. Allocating sufficient study time for each skill area and practicing under timed conditions can help you improve your speed and accuracy. To learn more about effective time management strategies for SQE, read 60 Time Management for SQE: Strategies for effectively allocating study time and managing tasks.

The Licensing Process

Once you have successfully passed both stages of the SQE, you can proceed with the licensing process to become a qualified solicitor in England and Wales. Here are the steps involved:

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)

Before being eligible for admission, you must complete a period of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE), which involves gaining practical experience in legal practice. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requires a minimum of two years’ worth of full-time QWE or equivalent part-time or flexible hours. The QWE should cover a range of legal work and provide exposure to different practice areas.

Character and Suitability Assessment

As part of the licensing process, you will need to undergo a character and suitability assessment. This assessment is conducted by the SRA and ensures that you possess the necessary character, integrity, and reputation to be admitted as a solicitor. The SRA will consider factors such as your criminal record, financial status, and professional conduct.

Admission as a Solicitor

Upon completion of the SQE and satisfying the requirements for QWE and character assessment, you can apply for admission as a solicitor. The SRA will review your application and, if approved, you will be admitted to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales.

To gain further insight into the journey to SQE success, read firsthand experiences of other students in 6 Student Experiences: Navigating the Journey to SQE Success.


Navigating the SQE and the licensing process as an international lawyer may seem daunting, but with the right preparation and guidance, you can achieve your goal of becoming a qualified solicitor in England and Wales. Understanding the structure of the exam, dedicating sufficient time to study and practice, and fulfilling the requirements for QWE and character assessment are key steps in this journey.

If you are looking for interactive tools to gamify your SQE exam preparation, check out 23 Interactive SQE Learning Tools: Gamify Your Exam Prep.

Remember, becoming a qualified solicitor in England and Wales opens up exciting opportunities for your legal career. With determination, focus, and the right resources, you can successfully navigate the SQE and embark on a fulfilling professional journey.

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