SQE2 Exemptions Made Simple: A Clear and Concise Overview

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a crucial step for individuals aiming to become solicitors in England and Wales. However, for qualified lawyers with relevant legal qualifications and experience, there are exemptions available for certain assessments, including SQE2. This guide provides an overview of SQE2 exemptions, including who can apply, what exemptions are available, and how to apply for them.

What is SQE?

The SQE is a series of assessments designed to ensure that candidates have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise law effectively in England and Wales. It replaces the previous system of qualifying as a solicitor through the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a period of training.

What is an SQE Exemption?

An SQE exemption allows a qualified lawyer to skip one or more of the SQE assessments, including SQE2. This exemption is granted based on the individual's existing legal qualifications and experience, which must meet the required standards set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Who Can Apply for SQE Exemptions?

SQE assessment exemptions are available only to qualified lawyers. This includes individuals who hold a legal professional qualification that allows them to practise in the UK or an international jurisdiction.

SQE2 Exemptions: Agreed and Individual

There are two types of SQE2 exemptions: agreed exemptions and individual exemptions.

Agreed SQE2 Exemptions

These exemptions are pre-approved for certain jurisdictions and qualifications. If your legal qualification is from one of the jurisdictions listed below, you may be eligible for an SQE2 agreed exemption:

    - Austria (Rechtsanwalt)

    - Bahrain (lawyer)

    - Belgium (advocat/avocat)

    - Brazil (advogado)

    - Bulgaria (advocate)

    - Cameroon (lawyer)

    - Croatia (odvjetnik)

    - Czechia (advokat)

    - Denmark (advokat)

    - Finland (attorney)

    - Germany (Rechtsanwalt)

    - Hong Kong (solicitor)

    - Hungary (ugyved)

    - Isle of Man (advocate)

    - Indonesia (advokat)

    - Jersey (advocate)

    - Kazakhstan (legal consultant)

    - Liechtenstein (attorney)

    - Luxembourg (avocat à la Cour)

    - Montenegro (odvjetnik)

    - Netherlands (advocaat)

    - Norway (advokat)

    - Poland (adwokat)

    - Romania (avocat)

    - Serbia (advocate)

    - Scotland (solicitor)

    - Slovakia (advokat)

    - Slovenia (odvetnik)

    - Sweden (advokat)

    - Ukraine (advocate)

To be eligible for an agreed exemption, you must already be admitted in the relevant jurisdiction. If your jurisdiction or qualification is not on the list, you may still apply for an individual exemption.

Individual SQE2 Exemptions

These exemptions are granted based on the individual's legal qualification(s) or experience, or a combination of both. To apply for an individual exemption, you must upload evidence of your qualification, such as an admissions certificate or a letter from your law society or bar.

You may be exempt from SQE2 if you have the same practice rights as a solicitor of England and Wales, along with at least two years of professional legal work experience (or equivalent) in one or more of the following areas:

    - Criminal litigation

    - Civil litigation (dispute resolution)

    - Property practice

    - Wills and intestacy, probate administration, and practice

    - Business organisations rules and procedures

Follow the link to watch a lecture on the SQE2 exemptions conducted by an expert with firsthand experience: SQE2 Exemptions Lecture.

SQE2 exemptions

Applying for SQE2 Exemptions

To apply for an SQE2 exemption, follow these steps:

1. Check if your legal qualification has an agreed exemption by referring to the list of jurisdictions and qualifications provided by the SRA.

2. If you are eligible for an agreed exemption, gather the required documents, such as proof of admission in the relevant jurisdiction.

3. If you are not eligible for an agreed exemption but believe you qualify for an individual exemption, gather evidence of your qualification(s) and experience.

4. Apply online through the SRA's mySRA portal.

5. Submit the application along with the required documents and the application fee of £265.

Taking SQE1 While Waiting for SQE2 Exemption Approval

If you are applying for an SQE2 exemption and are ready to sit SQE1, you can do so alongside making your exemption application. Your performance in SQE1 won't impact your exemption application.

However, if your exemption is not approved, you must pass SQE1 before attempting SQE2.

Additional Information on SQE2 Exemptions

In addition to the requirements and application process for SQE2 exemptions, it's essential to understand the implications of these exemptions on your future career as a solicitor.

Career Implications of SQE2 Exemptions

While SQE2 exemptions can streamline the qualification process for qualified lawyers, they also come with certain considerations. For example, if you are granted an SQE2 exemption, you are allowed three attempts at SQE1, and these must be taken within six years. This six-year period starts from the first day of sitting the SQE1 assessment.

Furthermore, it's important to note that SQE exemptions are granted based on the information provided in your application and supporting documents. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date. Any discrepancies or inaccuracies could result in your exemption application being rejected or revoked.

It's crucial to consider that individuals without academic or professional experience in England might want to think twice before seeking an SQE2 exemption. The SQE2 exam provides a detailed breakdown of results, which can be a valuable asset when job hunting, showcasing your skills and knowledge to potential employers.

Fee Structure

The application fee for an SQE2 exemption is £265. This fee is non-refundable, regardless of the outcome of your application. Therefore, it's important to carefully review the eligibility criteria and requirements before submitting your application to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Check the SRA website to see if you are eligible for any exemptions.

Application Timeline

The SRA aims to process exemption applications within 180 days of receipt. However, the actual processing time may vary depending on the volume of applications received and the complexity of each case. It's advisable to submit your application well in advance of any deadlines to allow for sufficient processing time.


SQE2 exemptions offer qualified lawyers a pathway to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales without having to sit certain assessments. By understanding the requirements and application process for SQE2 exemptions, qualified lawyers can make informed decisions about their legal careers and achieve their professional goals.

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