The Legal Services Board (LSB) of England and Wales has spent almost a decade refining the new system based on the regulatory objectives set out in the UK’s Legal Services Act 2007.
Chair of the LSB Dr Helen Phillips said that the new exam should ensure consistency of standards and improve diversity access to the sector which will increase consumers’ trust and confidence and create a profession that better reflects society, with wider access to justice.
Non-law graduates who wish to become solicitors currently complete a law conversion course followed by a Legal Practice Course.
From next year, they will take the SQE, which is divided into two parts. Law graduates will also complete the same assessment.
SQE1 will test functioning knowledge of the law and will comprise two multiple-choice tests, each containing 180 questions.
SQE2 will test legal research, legal writing, legal drafting, case and matter analysis, advocacy, client interviewing and attendance note/legal analysis through 15-18 tasks in five set areas of practice, the UK Law Society Gazette reports.
Professor Peter Crisp, Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Law, commented: “The formal approval by the Legal Services Board of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination is a monumental moment for legal education in England and Wales.
"Although there will be an extended period of transition from the existing routes to qualification as a solicitor, official approval means that the SQE now will become part of the legal education system from next year.
"This places the spotlight firmly on accessibility, affordability, and above all else, quality. As the leading provider of legal education, we have a responsibility to guide prospective students through this new landscape," he said.