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!