Frettens Banner Image


News and Events

Qualifying as a Solicitor: Your questions on the SQE answered

View profile for Matthew Fretten
  • Posted
  • Author
Qualifying as a Solicitor: Your questions on the SQE answered

If you’re looking to become a solicitor, you might be aware of the various routes available for qualification.

However, things are changing with the more traditional LPC method being phased out and replaced by the SQE.

In this article, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions around the SQE and outline how it all works.

What is the SQE and how does it work?

SQE stands for Solicitors Qualifying Examination and is a way for solicitors to become qualified in England and Wales.

It involves two stages, SQE 1 and SQE 2. To gain the qualification, both of these assessments need to be passed and you need to have two years Qualifying Work Experience (QWE).

The SQE is set to become the main route to qualification, with the more tradition LPC method set to phase out soon.

Why was SQE introduced?

The SQE was introduced to ensure that all solicitors are assessed to the same standard, and as ‘solicitors’ as opposed to ‘students’.

The SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority) aim to introduce more ‘competitive pressures’ with the SQE, in order to increase the standards.

Although LPCs aren’t set to phase out until 2032 in theory, in practice they have around 2 years left.

Does the SQE require a law degree?

To qualify through the SQE route you do need to have a degree, or an equivalent.

This does not have to be in law and can be in any subject.

You can find out more here.

Will law firms pay for SQE?

This depends on the law firm! Some firms will pay for the SQE in full or in part, and some not at all.

At Frettens, we fully fund your SQE tuition and exams and offer a very competitive salary alongside it.

Later in this article, we’ll break down how the SQE works at Frettens.

How long does it take to complete the SQE?

To qualify as a solicitor through the SQE, you need two years’ work experience. However, the courses and examinations themselves can vary from 10-40 weeks and can be part or full time.

Our Graduate Scheme, which is outlined in its entirety below, takes place over 3 years.

What is the Graduate Scheme like at Frettens?

We offer a 3-year course, beginning with one year in a Graduate Legal Assistant role. Here, you will be exposed to a variety of work across different departments.

Following on from this, in Years 2 and 3, you’ll work as a Trainee Solicitor and gain experience in multiple seats across the firm. You will study for and sit the Solicitor Qualification Exams (SQE) alongside your work.

In your second year, you'll study for and sit your SQE1 exams. In your third year, you will study SQE2 and ultimately qualify as a solicitor.

You can find our dedicated Graduate Scheme page here.

Why choose Frettens?

The Graduate Scheme at Frettens has a whole host of benefits:

  • SQE tuition and exam costs will be fully funded by the firm
  • You will receive 10 additional, paid, days off to study per year
  • You will receive a very competitive salary, increasing year on year throughout the course
  • You will gain experience in multiple departments
  • You will work in a peer group with lots of other graduates

You can view a comprehensive list of benefits here.

What is the Graduate Scheme at Frettens like?

Zoe Burcombe, James Privett and Katelyn Webster were the first to join Frettens’ all new Graduate Scheme and are in the process of completing their first year.

In this year, they have worked as Graduate Legal Assistants in our Conveyancing, Commercial Property and Family Teams respectively.

They will now move on to the second year, where they’ll work as trainees whilst completing the SQE.

We asked them a couple of questions about their experience with the Graduate Scheme and their advice for anyone who’s looking to qualify. You can read what they said here.

What’s it like to work here?

We are a progressive and ambitious firm that offer something a little different. We are not a stuffy, suited corporate entity; we are bright, friendly firm with a strong sense of community.

We have worked hard to create an environment that is flexible, fulfilling, and fun. That's why we've been accredited by Best Companies.

Last year, we received our highest ever results; ranking as a Top 5 Law Firm to work for and in the Top 10 best companies in the South West. You can read more about our best companies results here.

Don’t just take it from us, hear what our staff said about working at Frettens here.

Learn more about the SQE at Frettens

We are looking for three Graduate Legal Assistants to start with us in September. To apply, please email your CV and covering letter to Catharine Snow, our Operations Manager, at

If you’d like to find out more first, you can give us a call on 01202 499255; we’d be happy to chat with you.

Applications close at the end of April.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.