SQE vs LPC: What’s the Difference and Which is Better for Employability?

Difference between SQE vs LPC

SQE vs LPC: The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new, standardized assessment that replaces the traditional routes to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales.

At the same time, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a well-established vocational course that provides practical skills and experience for those seeking to become a solicitor.

This post will examine the difference between the SQE vs LPC, and the peculiarities of each qualification.

The difference between SQE and LPC (SQE vs LPC)


The legal profession is widely regarded as a prestigious career choice, attracting many graduates who want to become lawyers.

To become a solicitor in the UK, candidates must obtain a qualification through one of the following routes: the SQE or the LPC.

These two qualification routes are distinct and separate, and understanding their differences is essential for any aspiring solicitor.

What is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new qualifying exam that took effect in September 2021. The SQE replaces the previous route to qualification known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC).

The SQE is comprised of two stages. The first stage consists of a multiple-choice test, while the second stage involves a practical evaluation of legal skills and abilities. The SQE assessment thoroughly evaluates the knowledge and skills of individuals aspiring to be solicitors.

The SQE ensures that all solicitors have consistent knowledge and skills before entering the legal profession. It is also designed to provide a more flexible route to qualification than the previous route, allowing students to choose how and when to study.

The SQE’s first stage, SQE1, consists of two exams with 180 multiple-choice questions. The first exam covers functional legal knowledge, and the second covers practical legal skills. Students must pass both exams to progress to the second stage.

The second stage, SQE2, assesses students’ practical legal skills through role-plays, client interviews, and case and file analysis. SQE2 tests students’ ability to apply their legal knowledge in practice.

The SQE is a challenging qualification; students must demonstrate high knowledge and skills to pass. However, it provides a more flexible and modern route to qualification than the previous GDL and LPC routes.

The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a vocational course that prepares students for a career as a solicitor. It is an optional course that students can choose to take after completing their law degree or GDL.

The LPC is a practical and skills-focused course that prepares students for the day-to-day work of a solicitor. It covers various topics, including dispute resolution, business law, and property law. The LPC also provides students with practical experience through simulated legal transactions.

The LPC is a one-year full-time course or a two-year part-time course. It is delivered by a range of providers, including universities and private law schools. Students who complete the LPC are eligible to apply for a training contract with a law firm.

The LPC is a challenging course, and students must pass all assessments to complete it successfully. However, it is not a mandatory qualification for qualification as a solicitor, and students can choose to take the SQE instead.

Difference between SQE and LPC

There are several key differences between the SQE vs LPC:

  1. The SQE is a mandatory qualification to qualify as a solicitor. In contrast, the LPC is optional, and individuals could qualify through other routes such as Chartered Legal Executive and Licensed Conveyancer.
  2. The SQE is a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of legal knowledge and skills, whereas the LPC focuses on practical skills.
  3. The SQE is a more flexible qualification than the LPC, allowing students to choose how and when they study.
  4. The SQE is delivered by a range of providers, whereas universities and private law schools deliver the LPC.
  5. The SQE is a more modern qualification than the LPC, reflecting changes in the legal profession.

SQE vs LPC: What’s the Difference?

Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)Legal Practice Course (LPC)
PurposeStandardized assessment for solicitor qualificationVocational course for solicitor qualification
StructureTwo stages: computer-based multiple-choice test and practical assessmentOne-year full-time or two-year part-time course
AssessmentSet and assessed centrally to provide consistency and standardizationAssessed by individual institutions with some standardization
ContentCovers both academic and vocational elements of legal knowledge and skillsFocuses on practical skills and providing hands-on experience
EligibilityOpen to both law and non-law graduates who meet the eligibility requirementsOpen to law graduates or those with relevant work experience and a GDL
FlexibilityOffers a more flexible route to qualification, allowing candidates to choose how and when they studyGenerally requires a full-time or part-time commitment to complete the course
RecognitionStill relatively new, so recognition by employers is still developingWell-established route to qualification with strong recognition by employers
CostEstimated cost of preparation and assessment fees is around £3,000-£7,000Course fees can range from £10,000 to £20,000 or more, depending on the institution and mode of study
Difference between SQE and LPC (SQE vs LPC)

Which Qualification is More Beneficial for Employability? SQE or LPC?

The SQE and LPC can be beneficial in terms of employability, but the answer depends on various factors, such as your career goals, work experience, and the job market. However, the SQE provides a more flexible route to qualification, allowing candidates to gain experience while they study.

The SQE is a relatively new qualification, and it is yet to be seen how employers will perceive it compared to the LPC. However, the SQE is designed to provide a consistent and standardized assessment of legal knowledge and skills, which may be advantageous in the job market.

It is important to thoroughly research the qualifications and the job market before deciding. You may also want to consider gaining work experience in the legal field, as this can also be a significant factor in employability, especially if you do not have a legal background.

What is the Qualifying Work Experience?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requires that candidates complete at least two years of QWE, which can be gained through various legal and non-legal work placements, such as in a law firm, in-house legal team, or government department.

The QWE must be completed under the supervision of a qualified solicitor or another authorized person. It must involve providing clients with legal services or advice on the law.

The QWE is designed to ensure that candidates have gained the necessary practical experience and developed the necessary professional skills to work as a solicitor.

Which Qualification should you choose? SQE vs LPC?

If you have already completed a law degree or GDL and prefer a practical and skills-focused course, the LPC may be the right choice. The LPC is an excellent option to gain practical experience and improve your employability as a solicitor.

Your decision will depend on several factors, including your personal circumstances, career aspirations, and learning style.

However, if you prefer a more flexible and modern route to qualification, and you want to have the opportunity to choose how and when you study, the SQE may be the better option.

The SQE also provides a more consistent and rigorous assessment of legal knowledge and skills, which may be an advantage in the job market.

Conclusion: SQE vs LPC?

In conclusion, the SQE and LPC are two distinct qualifications that prepare students for a career as a solicitor. The SQE is a mandatory qualification that provides a comprehensive and rigorous legal knowledge and skills assessment.

The LPC is an optional qualification focusing on practical skills and providing students with practical experience.

However, both qualifications are highly respected in the legal profession, and completing either qualification can open up exciting career opportunities in the legal field.


  1. Solicitors Regulation Authority. “Legal Practice Course (LPC) route“, 2021.
  2. Solicitors Regulation Authority. “Qualifying Work Experience for Candidates“, 2023.
  3. Solicitors Regulation Authority. “Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) Route“, 2021.
  4. University of Sussex. “Solicitor, Legal Executive and Other Legal Roles“.

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