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How do I get my QWE accredited?

updated on 28 February 2022

Dear Oracle

I’m qualifying via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, how do I get my qualifying work experience signed off and registered?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: four minutes

As with all change comes a lot of questions, and the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is no exception. So, LawCareers.Net is here to help.

What is QWE?

Very briefly, qualifying work experience (QWE) is one of the four requirements necessary to qualify as a solicitor via the SQE.

It can be undertaken before, during and/or after completing SQE1 and SQE2, at up to four organisations, including law firms, law centres and university pro bono clinics. Your QWE must total at least two years of experience. Your work will count as QWE only if you are providing legal services, which can often be measured against the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA’s) statement of solicitor competence.

To find out more about what QWE is and what counts as QWE, head to LCN’s SQE hub and read our Feature which details everything we know about the new system so far.

Recording your QWE

Before you have your QWE confirmed or accredited, it’s worth dedicating time to recording your experience as you build it up. This will help you to identify whether there are any gaps that require addressing as you progress through the process. The SRA has put together a template that candidates can use to do this.

The template includes two sections, ‘placement details’ and ‘meeting the competencies’, which encourages candidates to consider the various competencies that they have been exposed to during their placements. QWE employers/providers may also have templates or processes in place to support candidates to record their experience, so check with the organisation you’re working with first to see how they can help.  

Recording your QWE in this way is not compulsory and will not be required when you register your experience with the SRA.

Remember, you should also be completing SQE preparation courses to give yourself the best chance of passing the exams. 

Confirming/signing off QWE

Each placement must be signed off by a solicitor at the organisation you’re working with, a compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) or, failing the first two, a solicitor outside the organisation who has direct experience of your work. The solicitor must be a confirmed solicitor of England and Wales but does not need to have a practising certificate.

The SRA will not assess QWE – it is up to the person confirming the experience to determine whether the QWE in question meets the SRA’s requirements.

The confirming solicitor/COLP is required to verify:

  • the duration of the experience being put forward as QWE;
  • that the candidate was providing legal services during the experience and was given the chance to develop some or all of the competencies for solicitors; and
  • that no issues were highlighted that could raise concerns over the candidate’s character and suitability to be admitted as a solicitor.

QWE does not form part of the assessment for determining whether a candidate is competent and suitable for practise as a solicitor – instead, competence is assessed via SQE1 and SQE2 and suitability is assessed once a candidate applies to be admitted as a solicitor.

Registering your QWE

You can register your QWE all in one go (which makes sense if you’re doing it in one chunk at one organisation) or in stages if you’re gaining QWE across multiple placements. You must register the full two years’ QWE by the time you apply for admission as a solicitor. There is no fee to register.

If you are gaining QWE in different organisations, you must make separate applications for each period. You can only register the QWE once you have completed the period and it has been confirmed by the solicitor or COLP – for example, it must have an end date that is in the past.

Candidates will need to use their mySRA account to make their application for QWE, so if you don’t already have an account, now is as good a time as any to make one.

Once you’re signed up/logged into your mySRA account, you need to select ‘start new applications’ followed by ‘notify us of your qualifying work experience’.

The SRA has put together a step-by-step guide to recording your QWE online:

  1. Candidates must confirm their understanding of the requirements using the tick box function.
  2. Candidates must fill in the organisation’s details.
  3. Candidates must specify the type of experience undertaken (eg, paid, apprentice or volunteer).
  4. Candidates must provide details on when the experience was completed and its length, including the placement’s start and end date, whether it was full- or part-time work and the total number of months and weeks worked.
  5. Candidates must provide the name and SRA number of the solicitor or COLP confirming the QWE.

The SRA aims to let candidates know that it has registered their QWE within 30 days of the notification being received.  

If you have more questions about the SQE and QWE, head to LCN’s SQE hub for more answers and updates as they come in.