SQE2 Exemption for Foreign Lawyers - Review & Assistance

Under the SQE route to qualifying as a solicitor of England & Wales Foreign Qualified Lawyers may apply for exemption from the SQE2 exam.

Below is a link to the SRA website page where you can see what SQE exemptions have been agreed so far for certain jurisdictions. You will see that several have been considered but exemption not given. You can also see if the SRA has indicated if your jurisdiction is included in the list of those who's qualified lawyers may apply individually for an exemption from the SQE2 exam. We have provided our research below free of charge to help you. However, some foreign qualified lawyers have still asked us to help them further. So, for a fee we will provide you with guidance and a template we have created for the reference, review the reference once you have drafted it or received it from your referee and guidance through the process. We will then feed back to you with tracked changes and comments for any revisions we suggest and a reminder of what you need to submit with this. For this we charge a nominal fee of £250 (+ VAT if based in the UK), only to be raised by mutual agreement.

Link to the SRA website page: https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/agreed-exemptions/

Normally people already qualified as lawyers will be exempt from the requirement to have your QWE confirmed to the SRA.

If you are NOT a qualified lawyer you will need to have 2 years full time equivalent QWE (Qualifying Work Experience) confirmed to the SRA by an SRA regulated solicitor. We can help with this if you don't have an SRA regulated solicitor in your organisation to do this. QWE - External Confirming Solicitor Service - for Aspiring Solicitors

Visit here for our YouTube channel where we have lots of videos answering questions about application for exemptions from the SQE2 exam.

Individual Exemption Applications - general

These can be applied for by an individual or on a jurisdictional basis. However, you still have to apply to the SRA for the exemption. For the SRA it is an exercise in comparative law between the 2 jurisdictions.

SQE1 - this will be harder to obtain from the SRA. You will need to show a) what the home qualification covers and b) that it is not substantially different from the law in England & Wales.

SQE2 - this might be a little easier. You will need to show that the practice rights and way that lawyers in that jurisdiction practice law is substantially the same as in the England & Wales jurisdiction.

English Language - the SRA have pointed out that they regard it as important that a qualified English solicitor can speak and write English (or Welsh). So, if they have not been able to assess this, because someone has been granted exemption from the SQE2 exam, they may, at the point to assessing your application to be admitted and an English Solicitor, requite you to sit a test to prove your competence in speaking & writing in English.

QLTS: Abolished with the introduction of the SQE. If you've passed the MCT, the last sitting of the 2nd exam to qualify through the QLTS route has now happened so you cannot complete your qualification through the QLTS route. You have to qualify as a solicitor of England & Wales through the SQE route. If you have passed the MCT the SRA will grant you exemption from the SQE1 exam (but you do need to ask them for this exemption). If you want to apply for exemption from the SQE2 exam then see below.

Applying for an exemption for SQE2

Below you will find the form to apply for exemption. This is our understanding of the rules on how to apply as a foreign qualified lawyer for an exemption from having to take SQE2:

Section 7a – 2 years professional legal work experience was gained as part of your qualification: upload the form to your 'MySRA' portal + presumably proof of qualification + fee £265

Section 7b – instead, 2 years professional legal work experience was gained post qualification: you need also to get a reference for this work and a ‘certificate of good standing’ from your local legal regulatory body for you and your referee (or equivalent for the referee if they are not a lawyer) + upload the form to your 'MySRA' portal + presumably proof of qualification+ fee £265. So in summary, you will need to submit:

  • the completed form
  • the SRA fee of £265
  • the signed reference letter from your supervisor
  • an admissions certificate or Certificate of Good Standing for you from your local bar/Law Society and
  • if your supervisor is a qualified lawyer, their admissions certificate or Certificate of Good Standing from their local bar/Law Society

Section 7c – your 2 years professional legal work experience is a combination of both post qualification and as part of your qualification: you have to do what is required for both 7a & 7b above.

Section 8 – you do not have 2 years professional legal work experience And/OR you are unable to answer 'Yes' to all the practice areas listed in section 2.2 of this form: you will have to fill in the table at section 8 and submit with it a dossier of supporting evidence + fee £265. (We do not currently assist review of section 8, but can assist with applications involving section 7 - by explaining what we understand the SRA is looking for and reviewing your completed table and the evidence you propose to submit. We charge for this assistance: https://www.hunningsconsultancy.co.uk/sqe2-exemption-for-foreign-lawyers-review-advice/)

You will also have to complete sections 1-4 of the form before submitting it to the SRA through your 'MySRA' portal with presumably proof of qualification and their fee of £265. Don't forget to also submit your referee's ‘certificate of good standing or other proof of qualification’ from their local legal regulatory body (not required if they are an SRA regulated solicitor), as well as your own.

Below see our notes of our research on what the SRA would like in the supervisor reference that you will have to supply with 7b and 7c above. (If you read this before 11th March 2024, we advise you to re-read this. The SRA have added in some new requirements.

The new things (March 2024) are:

a) To list ‘total hours worked per week’ and
b) Referees must have read the aspiring solicitor’s application and reviewed all (any relevant) supporting evidence before confirming your experience and stating that they have done so in their Letter of Reference.)

We have also had clarified to us that the SRA want the 'legal work experience' to be to the level of your qualification as a lawyer.

If your regulatory body asks what should be in a Certificate of Good Standing, we also have asked the SRA but not been given any guidance. Perhaps having a look at what the SRA themselves when asked to produce a Certificate of Good Standing, might give some guidance. Here is a link to the page on their website about that: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/certificates/certificate-good-standing/. They have written to us: "In the absence of a certificate of good standing they can provide a copy of their admission certificate or any additional documentation to confirm they have the required title. This could include for example the academic qualifications that lead to them being recognised as a qualified lawyer."

Submitting your Application to the SRA

To make your application apply online in mySRA. If you do not already have an account, you will need to create an account to access the form.  

Once logged in, select 'Start new applications' on the homepage. The application is called 'Apply for qualified lawyer exemption from the SQE assessments'.

Make sure you upload everything they ask and don't forget to pay them their fee.

The SRA say they will let you know their decision within 180 days of receipt of the application for exemption.

Here is an example of the message back from the SRA telling you that your application has been successful.

A reminder that we have a lot of videos on our YouTube Channel about applications for exemption from the SQE2 exam:

https://www.youtube.com/@hunningsconsultancy999/videos

External QWE Confirmation Service

If you know of someone who needs an SRA regulated solicitor to confirm their QWE but have no-one in their organisation to do so - we can help. This service would apply to someone who is NOT qualified as a lawyer. Please see the link below and feel free to signpost them to us:

QWE - External Confirming Solicitor Service - for Aspiring Solicitors

YouTube Videos on SQE, SQE2 Exemptions & QWE

https://www.youtube.com/@hunningsconsultancy999/videos

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