Common Law vs. Civil Law: An Introduction to the Different Legal Systems

By Victoria Cromwell
Head of QLTS Prep by BARBRI

The legal systems of different countries around the world typically follow either the common law or the civil law, or, in some cases, a combination of the two.

Broadly speaking, a common law system is based on the concept of judicial precedent. Judges take an active role in shaping the law here, since the decisions a court makes are then used as a precedent for future cases. Whilst common law systems have laws that are created by legislators, it is up to judges to rely on precedents set by previous courts to interpret those laws and apply them to individual cases.

In certain common law countries, courts (such as the Supreme Court of the United States) have the ability to strike down laws that were passed by legislators if those laws are deemed unconstitutional in violation of federal law. By contrast, in the United Kingdom, the concept of parliamentary sovereignty means that legislation can only be amended or revoked by Parliament, not the courts.

Civil law systems, on the other hand, place much less emphasis on precedent than they do on the codification of the law. Civil law systems rely on written statutes and other legal codes that are constantly updated and which establish legal procedures, punishments, and what can and cannot be brought before a court.

In a civil law system, a judge merely establishes the facts of a case and applies remedies found in the codified law. As a result, lawmakers, scholars, and legal experts hold much more influence over how the legal system is administered than judges.

How We Got Here

Both civil law and common law systems originated in Europe. Prior to 1066 and the Norman Conquest, the United Kingdom had no coherent legal system, and was instead made up of customs that applied to different parts of the country. William the Conqueror was the first King to unite these accumulated customs and traditions and create courts and a legal system common to the whole country, hence the term “common law”.

The common law system developed alongside the courts of equity which devised remedies to legal issues based on fairness and equality to counter the sometimes rigid common law. The decisions of these courts were recorded and published, and it therefore became possible for the judiciary to look at previous decisions (precedents) and apply them to the case at hand.

Judicial precedent therefore works on the basis of the principle of stare decisis, a Latin phrase which means “let the decision stand”. The common law now has certain rules. For example, only certain parts of a judgment becoming binding precedent, and only if handed down by a superior court.

By contrast, civil law can be traced back to Roman law. The use of a codified system here allows for primary sources of law to be recorded in legal codes, which are intended to cover the law in a particular area.

The legal system of the United Kingdom is classified as a common law system, similar to the U.S., although there are many codified laws in the form of statutes. This is in contrast to our European neighbours such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, where the legal systems are entirely codified and therefore operate on a civil law basis.

Taking the QLTS as a Civil-Qualified Lawyer

Although there are fundamental differences between the two systems of justice, both common law and civil law have become global legal traditions that continue to effectively shape the justice systems of hundreds of countries. Both affect how business is conducted within a specific jurisdiction. Both affect how international business is carried out.

Because common law and civil law are basic concepts for justice systems around the world, they are essential to understand for anyone who wants to learn more about legal tradition, either at home or abroad, and who may be on a path to dual qualification. The biggest challenge for a lawyer coming from a civil law background who wishes to qualify in England and Wales is understanding the concept of judicial precedent and judge-made law itself. This is tested in the MCT portion of the QLTS exam, as a fundamental part of the English Legal System. Similarly, civil law jurisdictions do not have the concept of equitable principles or trust law, so these are areas where civil law-qualified lawyers might struggle.

French employment law attorney Crésence Agbattou knows this struggle all too well. “At first it was quite challenging to wrap my head around differing concepts, such as the rule of precedent, and especially the lack of a Constitution as the basis of the law,” she said. “QLTS Prep by BARBRI helped me master common law rules, and the MCT, by having me commit to practise exercises on a daily basis. Once I overcame the early learning challenges, I found it very interesting to navigate between civil law and common law to improve my work expertise.”

BARBRI offers prep courses for the QLTS to help lawyers with varying backgrounds better understand the globalised legal system to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales. Find out more or enrol here.

How to Find OSCE Success (Ultimately) with BARBRI

Guest blogger Anna Hwang, Esq., a New York-based strict product liability attorney, shares about her experiences, and pitfalls, with QLTS prep courses and studying for the OSCE.

I work with international clients and wanted to become dual-qualified in England and Wales in the event I should move to the U.K. with my British-born boyfriend. What I had heard from other students who took the OSCE is that it could easily get the better of a person without good preparation. So I thought it best to enlist an expert prep course to help get me ready to sit the exam. It was an eye-opening experience.

What I found with one QLTS prep course was an instructor who had typos in each of his email communications and who provided a list of books to read without a comprehensive study schedule, outline, or cheat sheet of the materials and practise samples. It did not seem like an ideal way to prepare for such an important undertaking, especially since I was looking at studying while being involved in a trial.

I continued to work full-time and search for the right OSCE prep.

More and more, I would talk with other people who were having the same experience as me: finding less-than-professional study resources and services from what was supposed to be a professional education provider. It was then that I realised it wasn’t so much a problem with my study strategy or having exceptionally high expectations as it was something lacking in the preparation course I had viewed.

I turned to QLTS Prep by BARBRI. With BARBRI, I received a comprehensive (and not-so-overwhelming) schedule of what I should be reviewing each week. My course work was assigned through the online Personal Study Plan that focused on the subjects most likely to be tested on the exam. This study plan built up as the course went along to home in on my weakest areas of progress and performance.

The study materials I received were very different from the resources I had gotten from the other QLTS prep courses. These were well-written and designed to provide the substantive and procedural law for the areas assessed on the OSCE.

I also had regular access to an individualised tutor to discuss and submit my practise exams. After completing each self-practise exam and the mock OSCE assessments, I received feedback that greatly improved my awareness of the exam areas most in need of addition study.

Because BARBRI’s practise exams attempt to mimic the legal areas that could be tested on the OSCE exam, I was able to draft a particulars of claim and include statutes relating to interests. I gained confidence in providing case law in support of my legal arguments for an application for relief against sanctions.

Whilst learning the law is important, I found that BARBRI taught me how to apply my knowledge for the exam.

I wasn’t left to learn on the spot in a stressfully short period of time. Needless to say, I am confident that I will pass the OSCE with help from QLTS Prep by BARBRI.

Should I take a QLTS Prep Course?

By Sarah Hutchinson, Managing Director, BARBRI International

The QLTS is designed to test a candidate’s application of knowledge of the laws of England and Wales and various skills required to practise as an English solicitor. Because of this, the scope of the material for the QLTS exam is comprehensive and based on the standards expected of lawyers who qualify through the domestic route in England and Wales. Rigorous and robust criteria must therefore be met in order to pass the assessments.

As the sole assessment provider, Kaplan QLTS is not allowed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to offer preparation courses for the assessments. So how, then, do you focus on what is required to know and study the most relevant topics without wasting precious time and effort? Simply put, it’s best to rely on an expert.

Whether you are qualified in a common law or civil law jurisdiction, have limited or vast legal experience, and whether English is your first or second language, you will benefit from the professional guidance a QLTS prep course can offer to help you pass the assessments the first time.

Benefits only an expert study partner can provide

When you first decided to dual-qualify as an English solicitor via the QLTS, you probably had at least a general understanding of what is involved: taking the MCT followed by the OSCE. As you start to look at the specifics of preparation, such as the logistics, time commitment and study schedule, you may begin to realise the true magnitude of the task at hand. This is why having an expert study partner is so important.

Think of it this way. You won’t have access to things like tailored exam-specific workbooks and lectures, a unique study plan, mock exams and one-on-one mentor support if you go it alone in your QLTS prep.

Here are some key elements of the QLTS Prep by BARBRI courses that make relying on a legal exam preparation partner a wise move in preparing to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales:

  • Flexible, comprehensive course programmes.
    The QLTS Prep by BARBRI programme is designed for busy lawyers who often must study around their other professional commitments.
  • Expert law tutors.
    Our workbooks are written and our lectures are delivered by experienced English solicitors and barristers who teach the substantive law for each subject.
  • A full set of printed materials covering all subject areas required by the SRA.
    Workbooks are written exclusively by our expert tutors and updated periodically. Materials contain summaries of the main legal concepts and key areas of each subject. The textbooks supplied for the OSCE are designed to provide the substantive and procedural law for the practise areas in which OSCE skills are assessed. There’s no need to pay extra to access quality resources and reference materials as with other prep providers.
  • Multiple-choice and OSCE exam expertise.
    During your MCT Prep course, you’ll practise over 1,200 multiple-choice questions to help master the techniques you learn and outcomes tested on the MCT exam. OSCE materials are recorded and available to each candidate online throughout the programme, with the opportunity for self-practise and review as well as practises with tutor feedback that build over time to create a highly effective QLTS prep.
  • Regular mock OSCE assessments.
    Undertake mock OSCE assessments with individualised tutor feedback to assess your progress. Plus, take part in a full simulated assessment over two days, delivered online or at BARBRI’s London campus.
  • Unique Personal Study Plan (PSP).
    Delivers the right combination of substance and skills.
  • Proven track record only available with the world’s largest legal exam and education company.
    In July 2018, 79% of QLTS Prep by BARBRI students reported passing the QLTS on their first attempt compared to the 50% overall pass rate. BARBRI has been a trusted partner for over 50 years, having helped more than 1.3 million people become licensed lawyers and attorneys.

As you look ahead to the QLTS, I encourage you to speak with a BARBRI team member prior to enrolment in a prep course to ensure you understand how to establish your eligibility. The BARBRI team can guide you in how best to ensure you are able to study and sit the QLTS exams.

The SQE and What It Means for You

By Victoria Cromwell, Head of QLTS Prep by BARBRI

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has released further details regarding the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). The transition to the SQE will mark the end of the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme, or QLTS, the current route to admittance as a solicitor in England and Wales for foreign qualified lawyers.

What is the SQE?

The SQE introduces national examinations that all prospective solicitors, whether U.K. university graduates or foreign qualified lawyers, will need to pass to qualify in England and Wales from 2021 onwards.

The SQE will be taken in two stages: SQE 1 will focus on legal knowledge and procedure and SQE 2 will focus on practical legal skills.

When is the SQE going to happen and what does it mean for the QLTS?

The SRA has confirmed that the SQE exam will be introduced in Autumn 2021, a year later than originally planned.

After the introduction of the SQE, the QLTS will no longer be available as a route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales for foreign qualified lawyers. The first stage of the QLTS, the multiple-choice test (MCT), will be available to sit in July 2021 for the last time. The SRA has confirmed that for those who have passed the MCT prior to the introduction of the SQE, there will be a year transition period during which the second stage of the QLTS exam, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination, or OSCE, will need to be passed.

As a qualified lawyer, does it matter whether I take the QLTS or SQE?

In a previous blog post, we set out a number of reasons why it would make sense to sit the QLTS exam while it is still available.

The SRA has now also confirmed that the first stage of the SQE will consist of 360 multiple-choice test questions, compared to the 180 questions QLTS candidates are currently required to answer. Additionally, the provisional fee range for the SQE exam has been confirmed as between £3,000 and £4,500 for the two stages of the assessment. The QLTS exam currently costs £3,490.

If the SQE assessments come out at the top end of the SRA’s estimate, which is our prediction given the extra complexity of the exam, this will be significantly higher than the current QLTS exam fees. This alone is a good reason to start the process now if you want to qualify as an English solicitor.

How BARBRI can help

BARBRI offers prep courses for the QLTS that are designed to be part-time and flexible, to enable you to study around your other professional commitments. Our 50+ years of success in helping more than 1.3 million people become licensed lawyers and attorneys is reflected in our QLTS student pass rate. In July 2018, 79% of our students reported passing the first time with QLTS Prep by BARBRI compared to the 50% overall pass rate.

We are currently enrolling students for our prep course for the July 2019 exam. Find out more or enrol here.

QLTS Studying + Working: Tips to Help You Do Both

By Victoria Cromwell,
Head of QLTS Prep by BARBRI

Candidates regularly grapple with the question of how to best prepare for the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS) while working. There is no single answer that makes sense for everyone looking to become dual-qualified as an English solicitor, but there are some things you will want to consider as you make plans to pass the QLTS.

I always like to point out to candidates seeking to become dual-qualified in England and Wales that they are undertaking a course of study that normally takes domestic students one year full-time or two years part-time, and to approach their preparation accordingly. Unless you are an international lawyer fully versed in the English law knowledge and skills requirements for the QLTS assessments, it will likely be difficult to make a realistic and informed decision as to how and how long to prepare. Use the following information as a guide to help you in the time leading up to sitting the MCT and OSCE.

Be Realistic

Sudden and urgent deadlines, workplace distractions, the general demands of a full day on the job, and the commute home, can all take their toll on even the best-laid study plans. For this reason, some QLTS candidates choose full-time study through a planned (or sometimes unplanned) employment break. With full-time study, there is undoubtedly more schedule flexibility and greater opportunity for focused preparation.

Sounds tempting, right? But the reality of work and finance for far more QLTS candidates means they must fit their study in around their full-time or part-time job, as well as meet family and other outside obligations. For this reason, you want to start your QLTS journey by being realistic.

Are you going to be able to sustain preparation for this all-important professional assessment inside three months, studying three or four hours a day during the week and eight hours a day on the weekends? Or, would a shorter amount of study over six months suit you better? Work out how much free time you can truly devote to QLTS study daily, weekly and monthly, in line with your planned assessment date and your personal and professional circumstances.

For many of our candidates, study is interspersed between family commitments or even preparation for other exams or qualifications. Build in some flexibility to account for these as well as the unexpected. Much can be learned by reading blog posts of other professionals who successfully studied for the QLTS while working.

Be Systematic

A careful assessment of your own needs, time commitments and timelines should be undertaken early on. This should happen in conjunction with gaining a clear understanding of the course demands, exam dates, registration cut-offs, and potential timetable clashes with your other responsibilities. Careful planning, discipline and time management are critical factors when fitting study in around employment. By adopting a methodical approach to studying, you will become more efficient at juggling everything that’s on your plate.

In my experience talking with QLTS Prep by BARBRI students, most realistically studied over 3-6 months while working full-time. In many cases, the individuals were able to engage the support of their employers to make things a little easier. They also fully utilised the resources available to them, including mock tests and our 1:1 tutor support and guidance.

Let’s face it, a day job can become unexpectedly busy or preparation efforts can fall behind, or both. It’s okay to take some time out to reflect on the task at hand. Know that QLTS Prep by BARBRI will have you covered no matter what.

5 Ways To Maximise Your LinkedIn Social Presence

By Victoria Cromwell,
Head of QLTS Prep by BARBRI

For many professionals, LinkedIn has replaced traditional forms of meeting and socialising. Its use by some 500 million professionals globally has made LinkedIn an important and prevalent resource for networking. Whether you use the platform for job opportunities, to attract potential clients, or mainly to stay up with the times, LinkedIn can enhance your efforts. And as with many things, what you put into the social tool will help determine what you get out of it.

To make LinkedIn truly work for you as a lawyer with international career goals, it will serve you well to have a profile that’s rich, accurate, and complete, to ensure the right people find you for the right reasons. Here are some strategies and considerations to help you optimise yourself.

Nurture Brand YOU

Does your profile resemble something you would see from a professional firm or company brand? It should.

It’s good to show your unique traits, but do remember that LinkedIn isn’t the place to post personal updates or sentiments. That means your image, your personality, and your language need to all be in sync.

As you network and engage in various discussions with different people on LinkedIn, your audience and your connections should all receive a consistent experience that makes them want to return. Connect your LinkedIn profile with your Twitter account, personal blog, or other social platforms to widen your audience and demonstrate your competency — while still keeping your personal brand uniform and professional.

Keep Your Profile Relevant

Update your skills as you learn new areas of the law and gain experience. LinkedIn shows you suggested skills to add to your profile based on what’s high in demand by recruiters and employers. According to the social network, people with at least five skills listed on their profile receive up to 17 times more profile views, so it makes a difference.

Of course, it’s important to not only showcase your work experience but your work achievements and recommendations from work colleagues and clients as well. Update achievements as they happen and regularly ask clients and mentors to post on your profile about their experiences with you.

Use Postings to Drive Conversations

When people like, comment and share something you post on your profile, make sure you take the time to engage with them and respond as quickly as possible. Everyone likes a personal acknowledgment. Any content you create can give you context for a personalized one-on-one message with someone who may become an employer, client or other influencer. It can also demonstrate your credibility as a thought-leader or show your interest in an area of law you may want to pursue.

When you request to connect with a new person, replace the default “Hi, I’d like to connect” message with something more personalised. Then, remember to follow up with your connections on a regular basis. If you see someone is celebrating a work anniversary, a new job or promotion, send them a congratulatory message. It’s the details that can really help you build relationships and keep them growing stronger.

Let Search Work for You

You may not realise it, but your LinkedIn profile and all of its data points help power a massive search engine for professionals. This can be an invaluable tool for not only finding people you want to reach, but also for boosting your own presence.

Keep in mind that where you land in the order of a search result on LinkedIn is determined in part by the strength of your profile, activity, and connections. A good measure of your “searchability” is the number of views your profile gets, which you can learn about in the Who’s Viewed Your Profile section on your profile homepage.

The Search Appearances feature of your LinkedIn profile, which can be viewed on both mobile and desktop, can tell you how many people recently found you from a LinkedIn search.Use this information to make updates to your profile to increase your chances of being found by other professionals.

Make the Impression Last

If you haven’t met a connection in person before and are working toward an international presence, your LinkedIn profile will form their first impression of you. We all know how important first impressions are. Managing your profile using the above tips and strategies will help leave new and potential connections with positive thoughts of you.

As you expand your career path, any and all connections are vital. The better you are able to maximise your profile, the higher the likelihood that you will make the connections that matter in your law career.

Learn more about the importance of your LinkedIn profile.

Charting a Course into International Law

Guest blogger Michael Rasmussen, Esq., Chief Compliance Officer & Deputy General Counsel
 a Florida financial services firm, takes on the QLTS in his pursuit of an elevated international career path.

When I graduated from Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad College of Law in 2012, I had a pretty solid strategy for myself. I wanted to get on board with an in-house legal department and set my career firmly in motion.

Having done well in several securities law classes in school, I was able to get my start in the securities industry as an Examiner with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. From there, I went on to work with several compliance services companies before landing my current role in in-house counsel for a financial services firm. I focus exclusively on compliance matters in the registered investment adviser and broker-dealer space. It was a difficult industry to get in to, but I see many great opportunities here.

Although my early strategy has proven to be a fairly good one and I enjoy what I’m doing, the notion of learning a new legal system had become appealing in the last year or so. I wanted to stretch myself intellectually and professionally by taking on a significant new challenge. That’s how I arrived at the decision to move my career trajectory international and qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales through the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessments.

Some Words of Wisdom

I sat part one of the two-part QLTS exam, the Multiple Choice Test (MCT), this past July with good success. I would compare the MCT portion of the QLTS to the Multistate Bar Exam in the U.S., except that the MCT covers more topics in less depth. Every learner is different in their preparation, but I found the multiple-choice questions offered in the QLTS Prep by BARBRI course to be extremely helpful.

My MCT exam was conducted in a standard test-taking centre in New York City, where basic proctored exam rules were enforced (e.g., put your computer away before the exam, do not discuss exam materials with others). As a relatively fast test taker who doesn’t spend much time re-reading questions, one frustration I had with this specific exam is that it is to be taken collectively with other test takers with no ability to start or leave early. The exam can be especially stressful for some people, so be prepared to deal with other test takers who may not be their best selves on test day.

Thinking Ahead

With the MCT portion of the QLTS now behind me, I’m very much looking forward to having the ability to practise law on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. My belief is that an international law career will open many new doors for me to enhance the service offerings of my employer.

Once I complete the second part of the QLTS assessments, I anticipate leveraging my additional qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales in a manner that will help my firm seek out clients and relationships in areas that would otherwise not be available. On to the OSCE!

Lawyers on LinkedIn

Why Every International Lawyer Should Be on LinkedIn


It’s okay if you’re not obsessed with social media. Not everyone is. But with that being said, there is one social networking site you might want to pay some attention to: LinkedIn.

If you have an existing profile, this would be a great time to make sure your social presence is solid. As a lawyer considering or in pursuit of an international career, your profile will matter both globally and locally. Here are some reasons why.

LinkedIn is Your Brand Space

Brand identity is important in the global marketplace, not only for businesses but for individuals as well. If you are pursuing a career as a foreign lawyer, you can create a personal brand for yourself on LinkedIn that shows who you are, what you’ve done, and why you would be valuable to any firm or business with international interests.

Even if you don’t have extensive international work experience or high-profile connections, you have internships, extracurriculars, and training that deserves to be highlighted. Your LinkedIn profile will help make you visible to other attorneys and potential employers to showcase whatever work experience you do have, and, more importantly, your professional achievements. A well-thought-out profile will allow companies to quickly notice you and make contact with you.

Recommendations Speak Volumes

Much like a professional company profile might include client or customer testimonials, you want to include recommendations from your work colleagues, clients, professors, and others who are willing to provide a statement on your behalf. Recommendations are a real testament to your expertise and capabilities. They can be especially important if you are aiming to secure a job or take on additional clients in an area of the law in which you have little background.

LinkedIn is also a great tool for locating friends and colleagues and finding out who works at a company in which you have an interest. It’s a way to get directly introduced by one of your network contacts to someone who may be able to support your career endeavors.

There is Power in Groups

Go beyond personal profile updates and private messages with your connections. You can expand your network significantly and create more work opportunities by joining LinkedIn Groups and discussions on topics that interest you.

Use the power of Groups to boost your potential network and reach people you’ve never met in a professional setting, without the breach of etiquette that can come in blindly reaching out to new connections. Make sure to let each potential connection know how you found them and why you want to connect with them.

Join as many Groups as you feel are appropriate. As you network more on LinkedIn and engage in different discussions with different people, your audience and your network will grow exponentially.

Face-to-Face Meetings Still Matter

When used correctly, LinkedIn is a great networking and relationship-building tool. But, interpersonal connections cannot thrive exclusively on social media. While the digital environment provides a great platform to start connections far and wide, and easily nurture existing ones, face-to-face meetings are still important to build camaraderie and deepen established relationships.

It’s not always possible due to geographical limitations and schedule restrictions, but whenever you can, try to schedule an in-person meeting or a coffee break with your most important or newest connections. Even in the digital age, you want to strike a balance between your LinkedIn world and connections outside of the platform. You’d be surprised how much a face-to-face meeting can still mean to a prospective employer or client.

Boost Your Brand

Speaking of your profile, you should always be thinking about how you can make your personal brand shine. An increasingly effective way to do this is to connect where your clients and colleagues are ―on LinkedIn.

Having a stellar LinkedIn profile will help you connect with industry professionals, network, catch the attention of potential employers, and establish thought leadership. Through your personal profile, you will build trust for yourself as a legal expert and help drive business growth for your firm. It should be an integral part of your strategy as you set your sights on becoming an international lawyer. Learn more about the power of a LinkedIn profile.

Remember, BARBRI is with you every step of your international journey. The QLTS Prep by BARBRI programme will help get you on your way to becoming a successful solicitor in England and Wales. Best of luck!

Got Your Sights Set on International Law? Practical Tips to Get You There

By Sarah Hutchinson, Managing Director, BARBRI International

You might be a newly qualified lawyer or one with a good amount of experience in your home jurisdiction. You might live and work in London or elsewhere in the U.K., or you simply wish to gain additional qualifications before returning to your country of residence. Wherever you are qualified today as a lawyer, re-qualifying in England and Wales will open new doors.

But before you can gain the expertise and propel your career forward as an international lawyer, you might ask yourself: How do I get there? Here are some practical tips to help you reach your goal as a dual-qualified English solicitor:

Build Your Network in England and Wales

Get as much international real-life experience in these regions as possible. A good first step is to network with barristers and solicitors who work in the area of law that interests you. If you can find a mentor, that lawyer can be very helpful in assisting you throughout your international career.

You will also want to attend specialist industry conferences whenever possible, including the Legal Practice conferences held globally by the International Bar Association. Here, you will be able to meet and connect with practitioners who can help guide you to potential opportunities and serve as useful contacts.

Take (and Pass) the QLTS

Many lawyers opt to go the academic route and pursue a Master of Laws, or LL.M., degree. There is, however, a growing appreciation in the global legal market for lawyers who develop and offer an enhanced array of skills and expertise to their firms and clients.

While gaining an LL.M. is a great achievement, it often doesn’t hold the same value as being able to demonstrate your experience and practical skills to employers and law firm recruiters. Earning dual qualification as an English solicitor through the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), on the other hand, means you gain a prestigious and internationally recognised qualification. By passing the QLTS, you will show both your academic and practical competency.

Get Involved in All the Right Places

In the past, few lawyers bothered to seek admission to foreign bar associations or law societies. But times have changed. It’s now extremely important to connect with associations and organisations that have international activity and to take part in the global conversation.

The International Bar Associationis especially influential in shaping practice around the world. As is the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. The ABA Section’s membership spans over 90 countries. Getting involved with both should be a priority.

Also important are the International Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, and the International Section of the New York State Bar. As the regulatory bodies of the two major centres for international law, they influence the development and leadership of international practice. You are not required to be a solicitor or a New York attorney to become a member and participate in their events.

And finally, you won’t want to overlook organisations devoted to particular areas of practice, such as the European Company Lawyers Associationfor commercial in-house lawyers. Organisations like this may be even more influential in your area of specialism than the broader associations.

Gain Cross-Border Experience

International controversies are not likely to diminish any time soon. Plus, more companies are realising revenues from overseas operations and cross-border transactions. What this all means is that dual-qualified solicitors are playing an indispensible role in dispute resolution and the protection of global trade and competition.

It will serve you well to take on legal transactions and litigation reaching across borders, and to work in a cross-border environment whenever you can. You will be able to show your clients you have a heightened understanding of international legal issues and domestic legal elements of transactions and disputes. The quality of your profile will rise above that of your peers.

Boost Your Brand

Speaking of your profile, you should always be thinking about how you can make your personal brand shine. An increasingly effective way to do this is to connect where your clients and colleagues are ―on LinkedIn.

Having a stellar LinkedIn profile will help you connect with industry professionals, network, catch the attention of potential employers, and establish thought leadership. Through your personal profile, you will build trust for yourself as a legal expert and help drive business growth for your firm. It should be an integral part of your strategy as you set your sights on becoming an international lawyer.

Remember, BARBRI is with you every step of your international journey. The QLTS Prep by BARBRI programme will help get you on your way to becoming a successful solicitor in England and Wales. Best of luck!

The QLTS Chronicle of a Practising U.S. Attorney in London

By Chris Jorgenson
Lead Manager, BARBRI International Bar Review

Chris Jorgenson, legal manager for BARBRI International Bar Review and a practising U.S. attorney living in London, shares his experience with navigating the MCT.

I have been practising law as a licensed attorney in the United States since 2004, but now live and work in London. In January of this year, I decided to pursue qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales via the Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme (QLTS).

The QLTS is a two-step assessment that provides foreign lawyers from certain jurisdictions the pathway to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales. You need to not just know and understand English law to take on the QLTS, but through its two assessments — the MCT and OSCE — you must be able to repeatedly and accurately demonstrate and apply the law and skills expected of a newly-qualified English solicitor the first day on the job.

As I write this, I am “midstream” in the process, having successfully navigated the first assessment: the Multiple Choice Test (MCT). The MCT is fairly similar to the Multistate Bar Exam. It is a one-day, 180-question examination that tests on 11 different outcomes (subjects).

It’s not just another standard exam. The MCT syllabus covers the entire corpus of English law, and you need to be well-prepared in order to pass.

How I’m Moving Upstream

My reasons for pursuing a second legal qualification are many, but near the top of the list are improving my marketability in the global legal field and increasing the scope of service I can offer clients. That being said, at the age of 45, with a full-time professional career, a family, and some semblance of a social life, I was only willing to undertake this challenge if provided a blueprint for passing the exams. I wanted to be told what to do and when to do it because, frankly, I have enough on my plate without needing to figure out how to pass the two QLTS assessments.

Honestly, at my age and with 14 years between me and the two bar exams I passed as a newly minted lawyer, I did not jump at the idea of buckling down and learning the details of a new legal system. But I figured if someone could pare down what I needed to learn to the stuff actually tested and could present that material to me in as palatable a way as possible, I would commit to the process. This is where QLTS Prep by BARBRI came in.

I Prepared for the MCT on My Terms

Because of the way the program is structured, I was able to study for the MCT with BARBRI when my schedule permitted. All of the subject matter lectures are pre-recorded and accessible online. I was able to access those lectures at any time during the programme.

So when I knew I was going to be particularly busy with work, I was able to get ahead in the curriculum before the rush hit. Or maybe more accurately, I played catch up in the curriculum from time to time after my work demands had lightened. There was great flexibility in the programme to allow me to do this.

The MCT lectures are broken up into 30- or 40-minute segments. This structure helped me to keep my focus after a busy day or after a busy week, and I think it helped me retain what was being taught. I had time to digest the material with it being delivered in smaller chunks.

The workbooks that accompany the lectures are designed in a way that enabled me to take notes on the same outlines from which I was learning. As such, I was able to take the workbooks on my commute and used my time on the Tube to get in a bit of learning.

Since I’ve sat multiple choice tests in the past, I knew that practising as many mock exam questions as possible would be a good strategy for success on the MCT. I full utilised the practise questions and practise exams BARBRI provided to learn the law and get used to the structure of the assessment. I found the explanatory answers to be very detailed and easy to understand. Another “plus” of the materials.

Leaving Biases Behind

Initially, I was hesitant to pursue qualification as a solicitor because the process seemed like a massive undertaking. I would think back to my preparation for the Colorado and Wyoming bar exams in the U.S., and did not want to go through the stress of that again. Now, having passed the first QLTS assessment, I can tell you that the process is not nearly as painful as I had made it out to be in my head.

QLTS Prep by BARBRI assigned me a comprehensive curriculum, effectively delivered in a way that enabled me to work around the other obligations in my life. With help from BARBRI, there were few surprises on test day and qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales is a lot closer than I once thought.