qualified talk

Qualified Talk by Noreen Adjei (SQE + LPC route)

Interviewer: Hi, Noreen. Can you introduce yourself and give us some background on when you took the SQE2 exam and how long you prepared for it?

Noreen: I sat the exam in April 2023 and received my results in August 2023, confirming my passing. I had been preparing for the exam from April to May 2023. My journey was quite interesting because I got married in January and went on a honeymoon in February. Once I returned, I had from February to April to revise, which I found very intense.

Interviewer: Considering your life circumstances, what would be the ideal preparation time for the SQE2 assessments?

Noreen: I would say the ideal preparation time is between 5-8 months for people with an LPC background.

Interviewer: That’s a very important consideration that you would advise five to seven months for people with an LPC background. So you were not learning from scratch because you have substantial knowledge. It’s a foundation of knowledge already. 

Was there any particular assessment in the SQE2 that you think was vastly different from what you expected or from what your LPC experience told you?

Noreen: No, I found that with practice and SQE2 one-to-one mocks, I knew what to expect in the exam.

Interviewer: So you think mocks are essential. Do you believe that the SQE2 is manageable based solely on studying from books?

Noreen: You can’t approach the exam without doing mocks because they prepare you. They help you manage the exam’s time pressure, which is crucial, especially for areas like SQE2 advocacy. I recall my preparation for the criminal advocacy paper, which involved reviewing 15 pages of material. Doing mock exams with similar content accustomed me to handling large amounts of information. So, mocks are essential in preparing for the exam.

Interviewer: How do these SQE2 mocks compare to the LPC system’s mocks? Are they very similar in terms of advocacy, timing, and difficulty level?

Noreen: From what I remember, they are quite different. I found that I had to prepare more for the SQE2 mocks. My approach was to treat the mocks as if I were a day-one solicitor going to court to represent my client. This practical approach was different from my mindset during the LPC exams. 

Interviewer: You not only had theoretical grounding from your LPC but also practical experience because you worked between your LPC and taking the SQE2. Do you think this practical experience contributed to your success in the SQE2? How did it play into your preparation?

Noreen: I would say professionalism. While I didn’t represent clients in court during my work, the ability to draft emails to a professional standard was beneficial. Even though I worked in data protection, which differed from the exam content, SQE skills like researching and communicating with clients helped me. Knowing how to research and draft emails definitely contributed to my success.

Interviewer: So, based on what you’ve said, it seems that candidates with different backgrounds, without an LPC or practical experience, will need to study rigorously for the SQE2 to build up the necessary knowledge and skills, correct?

Noreen: Yes, that’s correct. The exam requires thorough preparation in both legal knowledge and practical skills. Simply having worked in a legal field does not guarantee success. Candidates must study to the exam’s standard.

Interviewer: Some SQE candidates believe luck plays a role, but you took a serious approach to preparation despite your background. Did you feel fully ready for the SQE2, or were there unexpected moments?

Noreen: The exam is challenging, and you can never feel completely prepared. If you have one bad day, just keep going.

Interviewer: There’s one more issue that I think you could comment on. I’ve been reading, and there has been a lot of discussion about the gap in the exam outcomes for SQE2 candidates with different ethnic backgrounds. Did you notice anything like that, or is there anything that you can offer any comment on this?

Noreen: I would just say have a positive mindset. Don’t let it defeat you. Don’t let it discourage you. That’s all you can do. I read about it before I sat the exam, and I didn’t really let it bother me as much. I just revised, took my time, understood legal principles, practised, and sat the exam, and I managed to pass.

Interviewer: It’s a matter of courage, not being scared away at the very start. Then a matter of attitude and hard work. So it has been quite a challenge, not just for you, but for everyone. I don’t know a single person, a single candidate taking this exam saying it wasn’t a challenge. Why did you decide to sit the SQE2 assessment?

Noreen: With my existing legal experience, I saw the exam as a path to qualifying as a solicitor, so I decided to sit for it.

Interviewer: Has there been any impact on your career so far?

Noreen: I actually took a career break. I’m back in the UK now, but I traveled for a while. I got my results when I was out of the country.

Interviewer: Did you do any work online while traveling?

Noreen: I did a little bit of work, but now that I’m back, I’m looking for a new job.

Interviewer: What sphere are you specialising in? Is it data protection?

Noreen: Yes, I’m specialising in data protection. I worked as a data protection paralegal for about three to four years. I have experience in various aspects of data protection, including conducting transfer impact assessments, handling complaints, and managing data subject access requests.

Interviewer: I hope that now that you’re back in the UK and back to your career, there will be remarkable professional opportunities for you. Your experience preparing for and passing the SQE2 exam will surely pay off. I wish you success in everything you do, and I hope to hear from you. Please do get back in touch with OSCEsmart and let us know how your career is developing, Noreen.

Noreen: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

Interviewer: Is there any advice you could offer as a final word? Perhaps about how to prepare, what the secret is, or what the most crucial element in SQE2 preparation is? Or maybe something you haven’t mentioned before?

Noreen: I would advise ensuring a solid understanding of the law and its principles. Also, for skills practice, don’t procrastinate. Cover each area thoroughly. For legal drafting, ensure you’ve seen legal documents before the exam. Don’t leave business law until the last minute; revise alongside other topics. Try to enjoy the exam; aspects like SQE2 advocacy and interviewing are areas where you can excel. Target the exam as challenging but find enjoyment in some parts.

Interviewer: Thank you, Noreen. And I totally agree with you. Enjoy the exam, and I wish everyone good luck for the SQE2.

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