How to Become an English Solicitor in Just a Few Months
Each year, thousands of lawyers from all over the world decide to qualify as English solicitors, and become dual-qualified lawyers. What motivates them to do this?
England, and in particular London, has always been a popular destination for foreign lawyers seeking to work overseas and advance their legal career, but many of the foreign lawyers that seek to dual-qualify as English solicitors do not necessarily intend to move to the UK.
The leading law firms in the UK continue to recruit foreign lawyers including from civil law jurisdictions who demonstrate significant expertise in their field and can offer both multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional legal advice.
But those who wish to stay in their home jurisdiction appreciate that becoming a dual-qualified English solicitor will allow them to offer a wider range of legal services to their existing client and to enhance their professional profile and marketability. This is especially true in a legal business environment where English law is often the chosen law in international disputes and cross-border transactions.
Why Become a Dual-Qualified English Solicitor?
The 2010 survey ‘Choices in International Arbitration' conducted by Queen Mary University of London in conjunction with White & Case LLP revealed that 40% of corporations use English law as the governing law for their cross-border transactions. This is followed by 17% who opt for New York law. In addition, in its 2015 survey, ‘Improvements and Innovation in International Arbitration', London was singled out as the most preferred seat of international arbitration, used by 47% of respondents.
Thus, dual-qualified lawyers, whether based in the UK or in other countries, have a unique advantage over their colleagues in their offering to clients, whether they focus on transactional work or dispute resolution. They can represent their clients in negotiating cross-border agreements, or in arbitration proceedings, both in matters involving state law, and in matters involving English law; both locally and in London, the world's capital of arbitration and one of the command centres of the global economy.
The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme – QLTS
In order to become a dual-qualified English solicitor, foreign lawyers can take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessments. The QLTS, governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), enables lawyers who qualified in jurisdictions outside of the UK to practise as solicitors in England and Wales.
The QLTS assessments are in two parts:
Part I – Multiple Choice Test (MCT) – this tests a candidate's knowledge, understanding and correct application of the main areas of English law.
The MCT consists of 180 multiple choice questions, divided into two sessions of 2 hours and 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon, each with 90 questions.
Part II – Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) – this tests five practical skills: client interviewing; advocacy; legal drafting, legal writing and online legal research. The OSCE is conducted in the context of three legal practice areas: Criminal and Civil Litigation, Business Law, and Property and Probate. The OSCE is normally offered across several days.
Who is Eligible for the QLTS?
There are no eligibility requirements for sitting the QLTS assessments. Once a lawyer has passed both parts of the QLTS, they can apply to the SRA for admission to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales. At this point, the SRA will require evidence of eligibility for admission.
One of the requirements is that the applicant must be a Qualified Lawyer in a Recognised Jurisdiction, in good standing with their local Bar Association or Law Society. The SRA recognises lawyers qualified in more than 100 jurisdictions as eligible for admission.
Taking the QLTS Assessments
The assessments are administered by a sole assessment provider, Kaplan QLTS, and are offered twice a year. The MCT assessment is offered in a number of international locations (in addition to the UK), while the OSCE assessment takes place in London, UK. To maintain the integrity of the assessments, Kaplan is not allowed by the SRA to offer training for the assessments.
When a candidate has completed and passed both the MCT and OSCE assessments, they are eligible to apply to the SRA for admission to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales, and have the same rights and obligations as a solicitor who followed the domestic route to qualification.
There is no experience requirement or training to complete under the QLTS route.
Training for the Assessments
QLTS School is the leading training provider for the QLTS assessments. Candidates can prepare for the two parts of the assessment wherever they are in the world, whether they work full-time or part-time and regardless of their previous legal background.
The course programme is based on distance learning, and includes professionally written textbooks, mock exams, video tutorials, extensive online resources and one-on-one tutor support.
Many of the candidates complete the study and assessments to pass the QLTS within 6-9 months, but this varies based on each candidate's own circumstances and work commitments.
QLTS School's website features success stories and video interviews with more than 50 foreign lawyers who have taken the QLTS assessments and become dual-qualified English solicitors.
For more information about the QLTS visit www.qlts.co.uk