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.