What can I do with an LLB (Hons) in Northern America? Watch

Tink_
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If I complete an LLB Law degree at a UK university, and then move to North America, what jobs would I be able to do with it? Would it be seen as a pointless qualification when applying for jobs in America? Would I need to do further education in order to get a job? What would I need to do in order to qualify to practise law in an American state after finishing an LLB in the UK? I have been unable to find answers to these questions elsewhere, and since living in America is one of my biggest goals (preferably practising law, or something within the legal profession since that is my biggest interest and what I'll be taking my degree in), I would really like to know!
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typonaut
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Someone on my law degree course went on to practise in Canada - I don't know what they had to do after the LLB to get into that position.

I recall looking at the requirements for taking the New York Bar exam some time ago, and it seemed to me that a UK LLB got you to the stage that you were qualified to take that exam.

I'm sure a little research would turn up definitive answers to these questions, so perhaps that's your first test of legal skills (if you cannot find the answers then perhaps law is not for you)?
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lolstudent
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(Original post by J-SP)
Most competitive legal roles in the U.S. will expect a JD.

You can do the New York Bar with if your LLB is with a recognised UK univeristy. But passing the Bar does not equate to being able to secure a job.

There are a lot of LLM students (and JD students too) who struggle to secure a summer associate or associate role, so I would expect someone with only an LLB to have a stellar CV to be with a good chance of securing something.

Most people who want to work in the US go the UK qualified route and then look to move over to the U.S. as a English Qualified lawyer.


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If you trained at a really good US law firm (white shoe) in London, how difficult is it to move to a law firm in the US? Obviously it can't be quantified how difficult it is, but do you have a general feeling?
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Tink_
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(Original post by J-SP)
Most competitive legal roles in the U.S. will expect a JD.

You can do the New York Bar with if your LLB is with a recognised UK univeristy. But passing the Bar does not equate to being able to secure a job.

There are a lot of LLM students (and JD students too) who struggle to secure a summer associate or associate role, so I would expect someone with only an LLB to have a stellar CV to be with a good chance of securing something.

Most people who want to work in the US go the UK qualified route and then look to move over to the U.S. as a English Qualified lawyer.


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What counts as a recognised university? Would it have to be Harvard or Cambridge?
Would you recommend aiming to get a training contract at a magic circle firm and working there for a few years to build up an impressive CV before attempting to work in America?
Is taking the UK qualified route and then moving over to the US as an English Qualified lawyer a realistic route? From researching online most people have slammed the idea of someone qualifying in law in one country and then wanting to practise in another. I have always wanted to practise in the US, however I don't have the money to go to university in America, so I have to qualify in the UK, and I can see that an LLB with the New York bar is obviously less employable than someone with a JD, but is it outright impossible? The job market is clearly tough and if people who have trained in America are struggling to get employed, I understand that it would be even more difficult for someone who was trained in the UK. I have also heard that it is damn near impossible to get a US Visa unless you are an American citizen, married to one, or have $1,000,000 in assets. All of this is very upsetting for me as its been my dream to work in America, and I just want to find a route that may potentially work that I could aim for. Perhaps, like you say, my best option would be working in a UK based firm with branches in the US and hope I get transferred?
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Tink_
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(Original post by J-SP)
I don't know the exact requirements for the New York Bar but I do know only a number of UK LLBs qualify for it. I don't know which ones though, you'd need to research into it but is suspect any of the top 10-15 UK institutions would be ok.

You can't do LLBs in the US. The US system is different, you do a non-law undergraduate and then the JD. It's why vacancies in the US have a strong preference for candidates who have the JD.

Your best bet would be to do a dual qualifying degree but these are exceptionally difficult to get on to. I know LSE, UCL and KCL put a small number of their top performing students on dual LLB/JD courses, but even when they are highly subsidised, students have to find significant costs to cover the fees.

But even with a dual qualifying degree, you need to pass the local bar. This isn't easy - someone said to me lasts week that pass rates for the New York Bar were less than 35%. And even then, a U.S. firm might not be able to employ you. As you mention, visa issues are difficult in the US, so they might not be able to apply for a work visa for you.

The U.S. legal job market is significantly more competitive than the UK. Nothing is impossible, but you will have to expect it to be difficult and you would have to work very hard on all aspects of your CV to really stand out in the US job market.

Inter company transfers are a lot easier though. If you have been working for a company/law firm in one locations for a period of time and they can demonstrate they need you to move to the U.S, visas are somewhat easier. It's why UK firms easily second lawyers at all levels (including trainees) to places like New York or Washington.




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From looking at the American Bar Association's website, I don't think they accredit any foreign university's, not even Oxford or Cambridge were on the list, I think this may be part of their way to ensure that what is already a competitive job market doesn't become increasingly difficult for American trained lawyers.

Law in America is only available as a post-graduate form of education which would make it even more expensive as it's an additional 3 years to achieve the JD, and 1 year to achieve the LLM. KCL was the only university I found that offered a dual LLB/JD course which does sound perfect, however as you say, there would be additional costs and only a very few candidates get selected to go on that course.

Putting in the hard work on my CV is something I am very prepared to do for my dream job, I have always known it is where I want to end up and I knew it would be difficult, however I had not realised that it is not just competitive and difficult to break into, it seems that the real issue is that America essentially doesn't want non-American trained lawyers at all, from all my research it seems that their just isn't the need for them, but none of this was mentioned to me by my careers advisor.

When applying for training contracts then I will definitely be sure to apply to firms that have offices in America, and that do offer inter-company transfers for long term employees. Is there a way to work out from their websites if they do this? I can see from some firms websites that they have offices in America, but could this mean they only hire American lawyers in their American offices? Or do they have to have English lawyers as well in their American offices because it's an English firm? Could working in a London office of an American firm also give me the opportunity to get an inter-company transfer to America, or is this less likely?
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mishieru07
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(Original post by Tink_)
From looking at the American Bar Association's website, I don't think they accredit any foreign university's, not even Oxford or Cambridge were on the list, I think this may be part of their way to ensure that what is already a competitive job market doesn't become increasingly difficult for American trained lawyers.

Law in America is only available as a post-graduate form of education which would make it even more expensive as it's an additional 3 years to achieve the JD, and 1 year to achieve the LLM. KCL was the only university I found that offered a dual LLB/JD course which does sound perfect, however as you say, there would be additional costs and only a very few candidates get selected to go on that course.

Putting in the hard work on my CV is something I am very prepared to do for my dream job, I have always known it is where I want to end up and I knew it would be difficult, however I had not realised that it is not just competitive and difficult to break into, it seems that the real issue is that America essentially doesn't want non-American trained lawyers at all, from all my research it seems that their just isn't the need for them, but none of this was mentioned to me by my careers advisor.

When applying for training contracts then I will definitely be sure to apply to firms that have offices in America, and that do offer inter-company transfers for long term employees. Is there a way to work out from their websites if they do this? I can see from some firms websites that they have offices in America, but could this mean they only hire American lawyers in their American offices? Or do they have to have English lawyers as well in their American offices because it's an English firm? Could working in a London office of an American firm also give me the opportunity to get an inter-company transfer to America, or is this less likely?
Pretty sure I know of someone who only had an LLB and was successful in passing the New York Bar. Last I heard, he managed to get a job in New York. New York allows those who have completed their legal education in a non-US law school to sit for the exam (http://www.nybarexam.org/Eligible/Eligibility.htm), which I believe is a rarity in the US. Alternatively, I believe there are some states where a 1-year US LLM would be sufficient (eg California), which would be less expensive than a JD.

LSE and UCL also offer a dual degree LLB/ JD programme with Columbia (http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law...guidelines.htm) and (http://www.laws.ucl.ac.uk/study/unde.../joint-llb-jd/). I don't think you need an LLM on top of a JD to secure a job (apart from Tax law maybe, where my general impression is that a Tax-specific LLM would be helpful).

I think the problem is that when one isn't familiar with a jurisdiction's laws, it's more difficult to advise clients. For instance, it would be quite challenging for a civil lawyer to explain things such as trusts (which doesn't really exist in civil jurisdictions) to an English client. It's not impossible (since anyone can pick up a textbook and learn if necessary), but it makes it more difficult. Law firms ideally wouldn't want to risk their lawyers giving clients incorrect advice. As one of the lawyers put it when I interned previously, you might have passed the NY Bar, but they wouldn't really want to market you as a "US specialist" to clients unless you really know US law decently well. It's also a question of firm needs - if they don't need an English-trained lawyer to give legal advice, they are unlikely to bother with hiring one.

I'm afraid that the short answer to your chances of getting sent to America eventually after training in the UK is I don't know. Whether a firm is willing to transfer people is generally dependent on firm need, which can vary over time. I asked about getting seconded/ posted to other offices when I interned at an international law firm over summer, and the response I got was that it depended on whether someone in your area of specialty with your expertise/ experience is needed at that particular office when you request a transfer. They do try to accommodate people, but it is obviously never a guarantee. My suggestion would be to go for firm events/ law fairs and ask HR whether a UK-US transfer is at all possible or likely.

Also, my general impression is that recruitment tends to be jurisdiction-specific (eg Hong Kong will recruit its own trainees for the Hong Kong office, NY will recruit for the NY office and so on). I'm not entirely sure how well it will come across to a firm if one gives the impression that they aren't committed to staying in the jurisdiction after qualification, so you might want to tread carefully.

To be very honest though, it's very unusual for any jurisdiction to have a "free-for-all" admission to the Bar. Most jurisdictions have additional requirements for those who earned their law degrees outside the jurisdiction, assuming they are even eligible to be called to the Bar. For instance, in the UK, foreign law degree holders must complete the GDL unless they qualify for QLTS. Ensures some form of quality control (apart from protecting their own law students) I imagine.
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typonaut
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(Original post by Tink_)
If I complete an LLB Law degree at a UK university, and then move to North America...
I initially though that you must have some connection to North America, and further reading indicates that you actually mean the USA, rather than anywhere on the continent. But, it seems that you have no connection whatsoever, other than a desire to work in the USA.

As others have alluded, it is very difficult to get an appropriate visa to live/work in the USA. Without family connections or significant money (money talks in this area) you don't have much chance at all.

If I were you, rather than concentrate on what an LLB might be worth in the USA, I'd be trying to understand the immigration/visa system to see if there was even a remote possibility.

If you cannot afford to study in the USA (probably your best chance of getting a longer term visa), then you don't have any option but to study in the UK/EU - so take your best option at that, rather than worrying whether you can fullfil your (remote) dream at a later point.
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mishieru07
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(Original post by typonaut)
I initially though that you must have some connection to North America, and further reading indicates that you actually mean the USA, rather than anywhere on the continent. But, it seems that you have no connection whatsoever, other than a desire to work in the USA.

As others have alluded, it is very difficult to get an appropriate visa to live/work in the USA. Without family connections or significant money (money talks in this area) you don't have much chance at all.

If I were you, rather than concentrate on what an LLB might be worth in the USA, I'd be trying to understand the immigration/visa system to see if there was even a remote possibility.

If you cannot afford to study in the USA (probably your best chance of getting a longer term visa), then you don't have any option but to study in the UK/EU - so take your best option at that, rather than worrying whether you can fullfil your (remote) dream at a later point.
Now that you mention visa problems, there might be a problem even if OP did go to the US to do a JD. My coursemate's brother did an LLB in the UK and then went to the US to do a JD. He managed to find work in Washington, but is apparently struggling to get a visa to stay permanently. According to my coursemate, it's some sort of random ballot (probably for a green card?) Some of the categories of employment-based visas (http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-...manent-workers) require certification that there are insufficient US workers to fill the position (the other categories are exceptional talents or business investors), which might be a hard sell for international law firms (unless the firm needs an English law specialist maybe).
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Tink_)
If I complete an LLB Law degree at a UK university, and then move to North America, what jobs would I be able to do with it? Would it be seen as a pointless qualification when applying for jobs in America? Would I need to do further education in order to get a job? What would I need to do in order to qualify to practise law in an American state after finishing an LLB in the UK? I have been unable to find answers to these questions elsewhere, and since living in America is one of my biggest goals (preferably practising law, or something within the legal profession since that is my biggest interest and what I'll be taking my degree in), I would really like to know!
The comments on this thread are slightly confused.

First and foremost the issue is one of immigration status. Unless you are an English solicitor or trainee being posted with your job to the USA, getting the right to work in the USA is the most significant problem.

After that, New York allows foreign law graduates to sit the bar examination and be called to the New York State bar. California allows foreign qualified lawyers to sit its bar examination with no further academic study in the US. It is common in the US easily to cross-qualify from one state to another without sitting further exams but that is not always available where the first qualification rests on a non-US law degree.

It is very hard for a foreigner without a JD to get employment as an entry level associate in a commercial law firm. There are thousands of lawyers in the US looking for similar positions.

However, the USA has both a surfeit and a shortage of lawyers. There is a shortage of attorneys in many small town communities. If you are admitted to the bar, you are a qualified lawyer. You don't need to go and work for anyone. You can set up in practice and represent your first client in court the following day. The reason that is not a realistic possibility for many is firstly they need a wage and secondly, for foreigners, they want a law firm to sponsor their immigration status.
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AzizaCloud
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If you are admitted as an executive lawyer (CILEX), a solicitor or barrister, you can practice in the US as a foreign lawyer...if you find a firm that wants to hire a lawyer with foreign experience and no qualified US citizen/permanent resident applies for the position.

If you're not an executive lawyer, solicitor, or barrister, then your degree is worthless for practicing law unless you can pass the bar exam in a US state which admits foreign-educated people to the bar.

Once you're admitted in any state, then you can work on the federal circuit... if you can find a job.
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