Under the new SQE route to qualification applicants will need to complete a minimum of two years' QWE before they can qualify as a solicitor. QWE is similar to a training contract and may be completed with up to four different legal employers. It has been revealed that time spent working in pro bono law clinics can count towards QWE. As such, coordinators (who are solicitors) and supervising solicitor volunteers at clinics may be asked to sign off QWE.
This session provided information about what types of work at clinics can be claimed as QWE, how QWE time is calculated, who can sign off QWE, and how to address legacy claims for QWE.
The session started with an overview of SQE and QWE from Richard Williams, Policy Manager Education and Training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Then Lucy Blackburn, Trustee at the Clinical Legal Education Organisation (CLEO) and Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, highlighted some of the key areas for consideration that have arisen in determining how to account and sign off QWE. On behalf of CLEO, and in consultation with the SRA, Lucy has drafted guidance which addresses a number of queries that have been raised previously.
Laura Pinkney, Head of the Legal Advice Centre, a teaching law firm at Nottingham Law School, provided practical suggestions to help clinics consider what practices and procedures they will need to put in place to account for and sign off QWE.
Finally, Jane Jarman, Professor of Law at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, spoke about the opportunity the SQE and QWE provides for the future of the not-for-profit sector and the flexibility it allows for students and also service delivery going forward.
Attendees contributed to the discussion, sharing their queries and points for further consideration. Some of these thoughts were captured and shared in the 'SQE/QWE' discussion thread in the Clinics Network Forum, which can be used to continue the conversation with colleagues at clinics across the Clinics Network.