“I’m a non-law student and eventually want to qualify as a solicitor. Do I still need to complete a conversion course or can I dive straight into the SQE?”
In theory, it is possible for non-law graduates to sit the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) without undertaking a conversion course or indeed any other further post-graduate studies. But, in reality, doing this is comparable to taking a driving test without having any lessons in advance. Therefore, in practice, law and non-law grads alike are expected to complete SQE prep courses before sitting the assessments, which as you know are split into Parts One and Two.
However, during the current transitional period that is set to run until 2032, the picture is more fluid, particularly for non-law students. Law schools and other providers have already launched, or are in the full throes of launching, new courses whilst phasing out existing ones. This is essentially what’s happening to the outgoing law conversion courses, typically known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Professional Exam.
Consequently, any law conversion students who have already accepted a place on the GDL (or paid a non-refundable deposit) can continue with this course provided in most cases, it starts on or before 31 December 2021. Students can then undertake either the LPC or SQE, which in the context of training contract offer holders may be dictated by your employer as they will cover the course fees.
If you’re yet to decide and / or pick a conversion course it’s worth noting that you will no longer be able to go down the GDL route. Instead, as an alternative, many providers are offering some form of optional additional training before your SQE prep course. BPP and the University of Law for example are now offering what’s known as the Postgraduate Diploma in Law. Others institutions meanwhile have launched Law Conversion LLMs.
Whatever route you’re considering, converting to law is a time-consuming and costly affair. Don’t rush your decision. Do your homework and thoroughly research providers. Also, ask probing questions about course content / structure and method of delivery. Visit institutions if at all possible and use your network to chat to students who have successfully converted to law to get their thoughts.