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The Oracle

Non-law students: SQE and law conversion courses

updated on 05 October 2021

Dear Oracle

I’m a non-law student qualifying via the SQE – do I still need to do a law conversion course?

The Oracle replies

The short answer is no. However, it is more complicated than that.

The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) will eventually be phased out, much like the Legal Practice Course (LPC), to make way for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), which was introduced in September 2021.

Non-law students qualifying via the SQE route are no longer required to complete a law conversion course (like the GDL) to take the SQE – instead, they are being encouraged to complete appropriate SQE preparation courses to give themselves the best chance of passing the SQE.

That said, many legal education providers are developing non-law-specific preparation courses that incorporate the Post-Graduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)/GDL, or aspects of it. This means that it is likely you will still do a law conversion before you commence any SQE preparation – for example:

  • BPP University Law School’s SQE training package for non-law graduates includes the PGDL, which will be completed first, followed by SQE preparation.
     
  • The University of Law’s MA Law (SQE1) is a law conversion course, which also includes its SQE1 preparation course to prepare students for SQE1 assessments.
     
  • Nottingham Law School’s Law and Legal Practice: SQE1 Preparation Course LLM has been designed specifically for non-law graduates – candidates will study the seven core modules of a law degree, followed by the six subject areas that make up SQE1’s Functioning Legal Knowledge assessments.

While these SQE preparation courses are not compulsory, they are recommended. They will help to fill the knowledge gap and ensure that non-law graduates are well prepared to take the SQE exams.

Choosing the right SQE preparation course provider for you is crucial. There are many factors to consider, including cost, content, study options and location – you can use LawCareers.Net’s guide to SQE preparation courses as a starting point. Please note, the list of courses in the guide is not exhaustive and it’s important that you seek out non-law-specific courses to give yourself the best chance of success.   

SQE or GDL?

From September 2021, non-law students who haven’t accepted a place on the GDL or secured a training contract offer will qualify via the SQE route.

If a non-law student has already started the GDL, LPC (on or before 31 December 2021) or secured a training contract offer, they can continue to qualify via the old route (ie, law conversion, followed by the LPC and a training contract).

Read LCN’s ‘GDL or SQE preparation course? A 2021 non-law student’s guide to choosing a solicitor training route’ for advice if this applies to you.

Visit LCN’s SQE Hub and Non-Law Students Hub for more information on qualifying as a lawyer.