Senior Solicitor – Global Insurer
This article will compare the benefits of training in-house vs in a law firm to help you decide on the right route to qualification.
What is the qualification process in England and Wales?
The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is the new solicitor training regime that has come into force, becoming the new standardised assessment to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales and will eventually replace the LPC.
To qualify through the SQE route, you will need to:
- have a degree in any subject or equivalent level 6 qualification
- pass both stages of the SQE assessment
- have two years' qualifying work experience
- pass character and suitability requirements
The SQE assessment is a series of exams taken in two stages combined with two years of qualifying work experience. The two years’ work experience can be completed before, during or after the SQE and can be completed with up to four different legal organisations.
SQE1 examines functioning legal knowledge in two exams, each made up of 180 multiple-choice questions, while SQE2 tests practical legal skills through 16 written and oral tasks. The cost to sit both exams is £3,980, with preparation course fees on top.
The Solicitor's Regulatory Authority (SRA) has introduced the SQE to ensure that all new solicitors are assessed to the same standard. It will make sure that all trainee solicitors, no matter which route they take, sit the same qualifying exam, ensuring consistency and high standards across the board.
Further information about qualifying as a Solicitor can be found on the SRA website - https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/sqe/
What are the benefits of training in-house?
o Variety - a typical week might involve advising on a breadth of legal issues such as corporate, commercial, regulatory and real estate matters
o Business acumen – you will gain an in depth understanding of the business you support and an awareness of the issues affecting the business strategy
o Commercial awareness – you will gain valuable skills in assessing the risk and commercial implications of your advice. This will give you the opportunity to add value beyond your technical skills and experience how the legal function contributes to the success of the company
o Exposure – you are more likely to be in close contact with your stakeholders giving you greater responsibility at an earlier stage in your career and developing your soft skills as a trusted business advisor as well as a lawyer
o Secondment – a secondment to a law firm is commonplace for in-house trainees. You may even have a choice of firms to choose from, typically one the company’s panel law firms
What do I need to consider?
o Funding to qualify is at the discretion of the company
o There may not be a clear career path and both development and progression will depend on the structure of the team you join
What are the benefits of training in a law firm?
o Structured training programme – trainees will progress through a clearly defined training programme typically specialising in one area of law at a time
o Breadth – working with multiple clients across different sectors will give you an insight into the type of work and sector that you would like to specialise in
o Progression – there is a defined career path from day one helping you to track your progress
o Pay – the remuneration will often compensate for the long and unpredictable hours in larger law firms
o Cost – typically the qualification fees are covered by the larger law firms
What do I need to consider?
o Trainees may feel removed from the client’s business and struggle to see the impact of their advice
o The hours may be more demanding and unpredictable particularly in larger law firms
o Client exposure is greater in-house compared to a law firm where the opportunity to meet clients during your training may be at the discretion of an inteal supervisor
o In addition, not all law firms have the capacity to offer in-house secondments to trainees
How can DMJ help?
Whichever route to qualification you choose to take, it’s important to remember that there will always be an opportunity to experience life on the other side. For example, DMJ have helped in-house lawyers to secure their first role in private practice so the door is always open to you - https://www.dmjrecruitment.com/job-search