Linklaters partners with BARBRI to provide SQE preparation courses for overseas-qualified lawyers and widen access for refugees

updated on 07 May 2021

Magic circle law firm Linklaters has announced a partnership with education and training provider BARBRI Global to prepare overseas-qualified lawyers for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

Lawyers who qualified outside England and Wales will be able to prepare for the SQE with BARBRI. As part of the partnership, Linklaters and BARBRI are also working with refugee employment charity Breaking Barriers to provide several fully funded SQE preparation courses to overseas-qualified lawyers with a refugee background, in a move designed to increase accessibility to the legal profession.

The SQE will replace the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) from September 2021 as the assessment process for overseas-qualified lawyers wishing to practice as solicitors in England and Wales. Once the SQE is introduced, all prospective solicitors will undertake the same assessment at the point of qualifying.

Joanna Keefe, Linklaters global corporate responsibility manager, said: “Promoting and protecting refugee rights globally and using our skills to help people in our local communities to access employment and education opportunities are longstanding priorities of our Social Impact work. We are pleased to be working with Breaking Barriers and BARBRI to increase access to the legal profession for individuals who might otherwise face financial barriers to undertake the SQE prep course.”

Matthew Powell, CEO and founder of Breaking Barriers, said: “There is no national strategy to support refugees in the UK to take their first steps into work. This leads to unemployment, exclusion and untapped potential. With support from partners such as BARBRI and Linklaters, we can help people from a refugee background to access the legal profession and acquire the knowledge, confidence experience and qualifications they need to gain stable, fulfilling employment matching their skills and aspirations.”

Victoria Cromwell, director of UK Programmes at BARBRI Global said: “The introduction of the SQE ensures that all qualified solicitors, irrespective of their route into the profession, will meet the same high standards consistently; and integral to this will be robust and rounded preparation. BARBRI brings together years of proven experience with world-class learning technology to deliver the best opportunity for SQE success. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Linklaters, to train its lawyers qualified outside of England and Wales for the SQE, and we are particularly proud of the partnership we have established with Linklaters and Breaking Barriers to support refugee lawyers to become qualified as solicitors in England and Wales.”