By Steve Levin,
BARBRI Director of Essay Testing
Let’s be clear up front, taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) exam isn’t a requirement to work in the field of international law. But it’s an option (and a good one) if you’re a practising U.S. attorney who has your sights set on a career in English law and working with global clients.
Having taken the QLTS myself and being one of the developers of QLTS Prep by BARBRI, I feel that I’m in a fairly decent position to offer some guidance as to why you would want to take one more bar exam. I’m not going to talk at length about the exam here; we’ll do that at a later time. But I do want to give you some sense of what the QLTS is about and why it’s meaningful.
The great thing is the English legal profession is relatively open to international lawyers seeking to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, so your decision to go that route should not be in vain. The restrictions to admission as a solicitor are minimal. Basically, you need to come from a home jurisdiction that is recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the governing body over the QLTS, and fulfill a few other requirements in some cases.
Whether you are a lawyer qualified in a common law or civil law jurisdiction, the range of subjects tested on the two QLTS assessments — the MCT and the OSCE — is comprehensive but includes many subjects and concepts with which you are probably familiar. Yes, there are some U.K. nuances and a few rules might be new to you. This is simply the examiners’ way of making sure you have the same knowledge and skills as a newly qualified solicitor who followed the domestic route to qualification.
You can learn more about the specifics of what is tested on the QLTS here.
YOU GET THE WHAT, NOW THE WHY
Studying for the QLTS, working full-time, maintaining commitments outside of work, and paying for another bar exam is a huge ask in terms of discipline, time management and finances. But let’s look at some of the reasons taking another bar exam makes sense.
- If you’ve recently taken a state bar exam, the information should still be fairly fresh in your mind. Now would be a good time to channel your recent bar prep experience to earn an international license.
- Get your CV or resumé noticed by adding the distinguished qualification of international law to your list of accomplishments. If you pursue work with a large company or private firm, you will be able to leverage your dual-qualified status to secure a position with one engaged in cross-border commerce (i.e., Financial services, International Arbitration, Aviation, Oil & Gas, or the International Trade division of a large accountancy firm).
- London is widely recognized as one of the centres for international business. Therefore, having a U.K. license will also give you a leg up if you decide to pursue employment at the United Nations or the European Union — including the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.
- With London being a hub for International Arbitration, the demand for dual-qualified solicitors is high. In addition to the ability to practice in London most common law countries offer some professional recognition to solicitors, entitling them to advise clients in matters of English law.
- Many international law firms give preference in recruitment to candidates with dual-qualifications. You’ll be more marketable across the globe.
- You boost your staying power with your current employer by offering additional legal expertise to the firm and existing legal clients.
YOU CAN DO THIS
If you are qualified as a lawyer in the U.S., you can take the QLTS and upon passing become an international lawyer. Period. The combination of being an English solicitor and a U.S. attorney is one of prestige. Does it involve some work and conviction? Absolutely, but BARBRI will be with you every step of the way.