QWE, in the context of qualifying as a Solicitor of England & Wales, stands for Qualifying Work Experience. It is one of the 4 elements the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) requires an Aspiring Solicitor to complete before they admit them onto the roll as a qualified solicitor of England & Wales.
The SRA require you to have 2 years Full Time Equivalent QWE confirmed to them by a solicitor whom they regulate.
So, it has to be confirmed to them by a solicitor they regulate - it cannot be a barrister. They do not regulate barristers. It cannot be a foreign qualified lawyer - unless they are also qualified as a solicitor of England & Wales. The point is that it is someone whom they regulate who does the confirmation - effectively for them and to them. I guess, so they have some sanction and control if the solicitor doesn't fulfill their role properly.
2 years full time equivalent - as far as we are aware there is no definitive definition of what 'full time' means. So we guess it is up to the opinion of the confirming solicitor. Ingemar Hunnings is our solicitor who confirms QWE for people who do not have an SRA-regulated solicitor in their organisation, is of the view that 30-35 hours a week QWE would be full time equivalent. (Holidays are permitted!)
The SRA has been clear that QWE can but does NOT need to be gained in a law firm, does NOT need to be gained in England & Wales, does NOT need even to be paid, so may be voluntary work. You may reach back in time as far as you want.
What it DOES need to be is "the provision of legal services". Whether what you do falls within that definition, will again be up to the judgment of the Confirming Solicitor. Ingemar Hunnings always offers a free, no obligation zoom to explore this and give general advice about SQE & QWE before committing to assisting in confirming QWE (see below). Best advice is always to use an internal SRA-regulated solicitor, if one is available.
If you plan to start a job which you plan to use as QWE, we would suggest you make this clear to your prospective employer and also, if there is no SRA regulated solicitor in that organisation to confirm your QWE, find someone outside who is willing to do this for you and check with them that they believe the work will be QWE. The last thing you want is for you to work there for 2 years and then find out that it doesn't amount to QWE!
Follow the link below for other top tips about QWE:
External QWE Confirmation Service
If you need someone to confirm your QWE and there is no-one in your organisation - we can help. Please see the link below. Ingemar has successfully done this for over Aspiring Solicitors so far from around the world.