“If the SQE is the newest path, why would I still consider the LPC?”

Offering students an entirely new route into the legal profession, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) officially came into force on 1 September 2021 and will eventually result in the abolition of the Legal Practice Course (LPC). But for the time-being would-be solicitors who are self-funding their studies have a choice between the two. The advantage of doing the LPC is that it’s a well-established qualification with more bells and whistles that extend beyond the compulsory components of the SQE meaning some of the more cautious employers may favour it ahead of the SQE. That said, those who support the SQE, argue a qualification that will become defunct in a few years’ time could potentially devalue your CV longer-term.

One of the biggest advantages of the SQE is greater flexibility in that it’s split into two parts, meaning the assessments can be done either side of your Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). This, as you may already know, is the compulsory two years’ work-based learning required to be completed by all would-be solicitors before they can get their hands on a practising certificate. Other attractive features of the SQE include cost and course length. The LPC typically lasts the duration of an academic year. In contrast some providers are offering SQE prep courses lasting just a few weeks. Incidentally, at the moment it’s tricky to say which route is more challenging because at the time of preparing this answer the first set of SQE assessments were pending. But it’s worth noting the method of assessments do differ between each pathway.

The simple truth is there’s no wrong or right answer to this question, and it’s ultimately a personal choice. Before making a final decision, I’d recommend speaking to (or indeed visiting) relevant course providers and asking them probing questions regarding fees, length of course, delivery methods, optional modules, employability support / careers service, and links to the legal profession.

Husnara Begum, editor and careers consultant