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Can you practice law in the UK with a foreign law degree?

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    say you got your degree in law from a foreign country be it the USA, Canada, Auz, NZ etc. would you be able to practice in England? would you have to take some kind of conversion course or is the degree essentially worth plop in the UK?
    cheers
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    A mere law degree isn't enough, but if a foreign law degree qualifies you to practice law in another jurisdiction then you may be able to begin a Training Contract on the basis of your foreign law degree by taking the QLTT - see http://www.sra.org.uk/qltt/ for details. I don't know the ins-and-outs of it, but I know people who took law degrees in places like India and Australia and have used the QLTT route to start a Training Contract in the UK without having to do the GDL first.
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    (Original post by calumsteele1)
    say you got your degree in law from a foreign country be it the USA, Canada, Auz, NZ etc. would you be able to practice in England? would you have to take some kind of conversion course or is the degree essentially worth plop in the UK?
    cheers

    Lets take this in stages.

    There is no equivalent in England of the American idea of practising law without a licence. There are relatively few legal activities that are reserved to members of legal professions and you may not call yourself a member of those professions if you aren't. However, you may represent people five days a week in the Employment Tribunal with no other qualification than a JD from the University of North Dakota (or for that matter a certificate for 50 metres backstroke).

    Likewise you may practise foreign law in the UK by virtue solely of a foreign legal title. There are plenty of US attorneys practising as such in London. It would be illegal to represent yourself as such unless you were a qualified US attorney.

    Foreign lawyers may register with the SRA in which case they may enter into partnership with solicitors.

    European lawyers may practice law in England, including reserved activities, under their home country legal title and may enter into partnership with solicitors.


    Qualified lawyers from certain, generally common law, countries may undertake the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme in which case they can become English solicitors without doing a training contract or other qualification. There is a similar test, the Bar Transfer Test, for barristers and there is a discretionary waiver of pupillage.

    Foreign graduates, whether law or otherwise, must get a certificate of academic standing from the SRA or BSB before being allowed to undertake the GDL. Effectively such a certificate puts the student in the same position as a UK non-law graduate. Depending on the degree course content, students may be exempted from one or more GDL modules.


    Rounding this up:-

    In those countries where law is an undergraduate subject, doing a foreign law degree puts a student in the same position as a UK non-law graduate.

    In those countries where it is usual to do a post-graduate law degree and bar exam but no practical training eg the USA, it is better to qualify abroad and then do the QLTS in the UK.




    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    A mere law degree isn't enough, but if a foreign law degree qualifies you to practice law in another jurisdiction then you may be able to begin a Training Contract on the basis of your foreign law degree by taking the QLTT - see http://www.sra.org.uk/qltt/ for details. I don't know the ins-and-outs of it, but I know people who took law degrees in places like India and Australia and have used the QLTT route to start a Training Contract in the UK without having to do the GDL first.
    The QLTS (replaced the QLTT) doesn't require a training contract. It is only available to qualified lawyers but pass it and you are a solicitor. It is what has made the New York Bar Exam so attractive to English graduates.

    English law degree+NY Bar Exam+QLTS=solicitor
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    The QLTS (replaced the QLTT) doesn't require a training contract. It is only available to qualified lawyers but pass it and you are a solicitor. It is what has made the New York Bar Exam so attractive to English graduates.

    English law degree+NY Bar Exam+QLTS=solicitor
    Interesting, I was a bit out of date there. It is worth noting that among the commercial firms the practical position is that people with foreign law degrees have to do a TC just like English graduates; firms are not prepared to hire people fresh out of university as associates. Several of my colleagues did foreign law degrees and are allowed to use a title like "Graduate Solicitor (Australia)" instead of "Trainee Solicitor", but they still have to do a TC and are treated as trainees.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    Interesting, I was a bit out of date there. It is worth noting that among the commercial firms the practical position is that people with foreign law degrees have to do a TC just like English graduates; firms are not prepared to hire people fresh out of university as associates. Several of my colleagues did foreign law degrees and are allowed to use a title like "Graduate Solicitor (Australia)" instead of "Trainee Solicitor", but they still have to do a TC and are treated as trainees.
    I think what you are describing may be unrepresentative of many of the solicitors undertaking the QLTT/QLTS.

    Look at the nationalities of the ones you know and compare that to the stats (2009).

    From other professions:
    Legal executives 147 6.2%
    Barristers 316 13.4%
    Sub-total 463 19.6%

    From other jurisdictions:
    Hong Kong 174 7.4%
    Australia/New Zealand 509 21.6%
    USA/Canada 218 9.2%
    Scotland/N. Ireland/Isle of Man 128 5.4%
    Other EU countries 243 10.3%
    Non-EU countries 3 0.1%
    Singapore/Malaysia 211 8.9%
    India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka 241 10.2%
    South Africa 11 0.5%
    Nigeria 79 3.3%
    All other jurisdictions 78 3.3%
    Sub-total 1,895 80.4%

    Grand total 2,358 100.0%
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I think what you are describing may be unrepresentative of many of the solicitors undertaking the QLTT/QLTS.

    Look at the nationalities of the ones you know and compare that to the stats (2009).
    Yes, it very much depends on the particular circumstances and the type of firm. Someone who has practical experience in their home jurisdiction is in an entirely different position to someone fresh out of university.

    In terms of nationalities, I have come across a fairly broad range of foreign qualified lawyers at my firm. We have current or recent trainees who recently completed law degrees in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Hong Kong (you see a fair cross-section given that the firm has almost 100 trainees!). I don't think I've met any trainees who did a law degree elsewhere in Europe. Although I am not an expert I understand that these lawyers do not have to jump through quite the same administrative hoops with the SRA that domestic trainees do, but they are certainly treated as trainees by the firm until they have finished four six month seats.

    The firm does have a number of foreign qualified solicitors who took the QLTT and moved here as an associate, but those people all had significant experience in their home jurisdiction before moving over.

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