SQE added to government lawyer qualification route

updated on 15 March 2023

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The Government Legal Department (GLD) has revealed its plans to adopt the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), following its introduction in September 2021.  

From Summer 2023, the department will welcome its first cohort of SQE trainees, who will then officially join the GLD in 2025.  

In order to qualify via the SQE route, candidates must pass two exams (SQE1 and SQE2) and complete two years' qualifying work experience. Those who’ve already started the Legal Practice Course and wish to join the GLD can continue to qualify via this route and will also be recruited this summer before joining the department in 2023 and 2024.  

The GLD revealed that it’ll also be offering the solicitor apprenticeship route for graduate and non-graduate candidates. The department stated that the route aligns with its “flexible working offer, and wider diversity and social mobility aims”.  

Zane Denton, GLD early talent champion, and Steven Cave, legal director at the Department for Transport said: “Apprentices and paralegals will sit alongside the new SQE legal training as routes to becoming a GLD lawyer, opening up exciting opportunities to those with the skills, abilities and ambition to succeed.” 

Denton and Cave add: “We need to mirror those we serve, bringing our diversity of thought, ideas and locations to the crucial work we do as government lawyers.” 

The GLD currently recruits its trainee solicitors via an annual trainee recruitment campaign. Under this two-year training programme, candidates undertake four seats, two advisory and two litigation. Salaries for trainees begin at £30,157 in their first year, rising to £34,460 in their second year.  

Meanwhile, more senior government lawyers, as of February, have also been offered a 16% pay rise offering further incentive to join the department.  

Want to find out more about the SQE? Check out our SQE hub.