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    Hello,

    I am a US citizen interested in applying to UK LLM programs. I graduate this May from an Ivy League law school (think one of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, UPenn), but I am exploring international options. I also had 6 years of legal work experience before law school (4 of which was at a UK MC firm based in New York), and each summer of law school I worked at either a law firm or Fortune 500 company. I am currently externing at a US federal/government agency. I also hold citizenship from a Caribbean country.

    That said, I have mediocre grades and will graduate with a mid-to-high 2:2 JD. What are my chances of acceptance to KCL, UCL or QMUL for the LLM? I wish to take my LLM to practice in an overseas jurisdiction, and not necessarily the UK.

    Other important side notes:

    - I will likely be barred in NY or CA and have 2-3 years post-grad work experience prior to my UK relocation;
    - I will also likely sit for the QLTT examination prior to relocation;
    - I'm not necessarily looking for a TC but may consider it with an American law firm;
    - I will likely be working as a legal fellow or at a US law firm upon my graduation.

    Are my chances of admittance to KCL, UCL or QMUL at all likely?
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    What's your actual GPA and class rank for your JD?
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    (Original post by MrLintonJones)
    What's your actual GPA and class rank for your JD?
    2.8 GPA, which I assume is equivalent to a 58% in the UK.

    My school does not issue class rank.
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    2.8 GPA, which I assume is equivalent to a 58% in the UK.

    My school does not issue class rank.
    I went to the US for an LLM - so I have a little understanding of the US Law School system, but correct me if I am wrong with the following...

    To get into one of the law schools you mentioned you must have had a high undergrad GPA in the first place - they will be interested in that too. Also as I understand it, as was at my US law school, all US law schools have bell curves? That isn't the case in the UK, law students are not graded against one another on a bell curve (so everyone can get an A+/1st class paper if that is the standard everybody is at). That means that you can't really directly translate US law school GPAs into 3/2:2/2:1/1 UK classifications, although you might be able to from a US undergrad where there are no bell curves.

    So whilst your 2.8 GPA may look worse next to your peers, and when "converted" into UK grades, I think because it comes from a top law school and a bell curve system this may mitigate that fact a bit. As I understand it "Big Law" in the US even has different GPA cut offs for those from different schools, in order to mitigate the bell curve itself too - a 2.8GPA from Harvard, for example, would not do worse than a 3.5 GPA from Pepperdine.

    I imagine LLM programs would understand that too (and there may even be a space on the application form to explain this further).
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    (Original post by MrLintonJones)
    I went to the US for an LLM - so I have a little understanding of the US Law School system, but correct me if I am wrong with the following...

    To get into one of the law schools you mentioned you must have had a high undergrad GPA in the first place - they will be interested in that too. Also as I understand it, as was at my US law school, all US law schools have bell curves? That isn't the case in the UK, law students are not graded against one another on a bell curve (so everyone can get an A+/1st class paper if that is the standard everybody is at). That means that you can't really directly translate US law school GPAs into 3/2:2/2:1/1 UK classifications, although you might be able to from a US undergrad where there are no bell curves.

    So whilst your 2.8 GPA may look worse next to your peers, and when "converted" into UK grades, I think because it comes from a top law school and a bell curve system this may mitigate that fact a bit. As I understand it "Big Law" in the US even has different GPA cut offs for those from different schools, in order to mitigate the bell curve itself too - a 2.8GPA from Harvard, for example, would not do worse than a 3.5 GPA from Pepperdine.

    I imagine LLM programs would understand that too (and there may even be a space on the application form to explain this further).
    Many thanks Sir/Madam for your insight! Yes, my school like most other US law schools grades on a curve. I was hoping my prior and post-grad work experience, coupled with my NY or CA bar admission would help mitigate the GPA. I didn't think my undergraduate 2:1 would have helped, but I'm happy to hear that admission committees may be interested in that, too.

    Would you say I still have a shot at UCL or KCL? What about LSE and QMUL? I am looking to get into the best program for banking/finance/competition/international trade law. Not exactly sure which focus it will be yet. I believe the current reputation amongst the 4 are UCL-->LSE--->KCL--->QMUL. Would you say that's a fair assessment?

    In addition, are you currently practicing in the UK with your US LLM? How has your experiences been? Please feel free to reach out by private message as well!
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Hello,

    I am a US citizen interested in applying to UK LLM programs. I graduate this May from an Ivy League law school (think one of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, UPenn), but I am exploring international options. I also had 6 years of legal work experience before law school (4 of which was at a UK MC firm based in New York), and each summer of law school I worked at either a law firm or Fortune 500 company. I am currently externing at a US federal/government agency. I also hold citizenship from a Caribbean country.

    That said, I have mediocre grades and will graduate with a mid-to-high 2:2 JD. What are my chances of acceptance to KCL, UCL or QMUL for the LLM? I wish to take my LLM to practice in an overseas jurisdiction, and not necessarily the UK.

    Other important side notes:

    - I will likely be barred in NY or CA and have 2-3 years post-grad work experience prior to my UK relocation;
    - I will also likely sit for the QLTT examination prior to relocation;
    - I'm not necessarily looking for a TC but may consider it with an American law firm;
    - I will likely be working as a legal fellow or at a US law firm upon my graduation.

    Are my chances of admittance to KCL, UCL or QMUL at all likely?
    Regarding your side notes:

    - I doubt any firm would take you on as a TC with your current level of experience - it would not make sense to either if you were doing the QLTS (as it stands)
    - The QLTS could change soon anyway and have a compulsory work experience element to it - these are part of qualification process changes under the SQE consultantions currently taking place and due to be finalised later this year, so sitting the equivalent of the QLTS may need up to 18 months worth of work experience. It isn't clear whether that has to be in the UK though.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Regarding your side notes:

    - I doubt any firm would take you on as a TC with your current level of experience - it would not make sense to either if you were doing the QLTS (as it stands)
    - The QLTS could change soon anyway and have a compulsory work experience element to it - these are part of qualification process changes under the SQE consultantions currently taking place and due to be finalised later this year, so sitting the equivalent of the QLTS may need up to 18 months worth of work experience. It isn't clear whether that has to be in the UK though.
    Do you think I will be considered overqualified for a TC?

    What do you think is my best approach here: LLM or GDL?

    Either way I will sit for the NY bar exam, and should have the requisite months of experience needed for the QLTT prior to relocation.
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Do you think I will be considered overqualified for a TC?

    What do you think is my best approach here: LLM or GDL?

    Either way I will sit for the NY bar exam, and should have the requisite months of experience needed for the QLTT prior to relocation.
    Yes - although I'm confused as to whether your experience is as a qualified lawyer. If not, then it may not be the case.

    Neither are needed if you are doing the QLTT. I wouldn't see the benefit of either course if you have a JD.

    The QLTT might not exist in the not too distant future though.


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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Many thanks Sir/Madam for your insight! Yes, my school like most other US law schools grades on a curve. I was hoping my prior and post-grad work experience, coupled with my NY or CA bar admission would help mitigate the GPA. I didn't think my undergraduate 2:1 would have helped, but I'm happy to hear that admission committees may be interested in that, too.

    Would you say I still have a shot at UCL or KCL? What about LSE and QMUL? I am looking to get into the best program for banking/finance/competition/international trade law. Not exactly sure which focus it will be yet. I believe the current reputation amongst the 4 are UCL-->LSE--->KCL--->QMUL. Would you say that's a fair assessment?

    In addition, are you currently practicing in the UK with your US LLM? How has your experiences been? Please feel free to reach out by private message as well!
    I think both your experience and undergrad GPA would be influential. I assume they ask for a personal statement? So you can big your experience up there too.

    If you PM me I can tell you more about my experience post-LLM, I am on my phone at the moment and can't find the PM!
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Yes - although I'm confused as to whether your experience is as a qualified lawyer. If not, then it may not be the case.

    Neither are needed if you are doing the QLTT. I wouldn't see the benefit of either course if you have a JD.

    The QLTT might not exist in the not too distant future though.
    All of the experiences listed were/will be done prior to being a qualified lawyer. I sit the NY bar in July.

    With regards to your second point, it appears UK qualifications trump (no pun intended) JD qualifications internationally. At least for most common law jurisdictions, UK qualifications opens more doors (for example, in offshore law firms and the Caribbean, UK qualifications alone and/or combined with PQE are welcomed).

    The UK LLM and QLTS (or what ever transfer option is in place by the time I sit examination) will hopefully help open those doors for me. Networking during my program is also my plan.

    We live in a transnational world. I just want to make certain that if I decide to move or live internationally, I have the qualifications in place.
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    All of the experiences listed were/will be done prior to being a qualified lawyer. I sit the NY bar in July.

    With regards to your second point, it appears UK qualifications trump (no pun intended) JD qualifications internationally. At least for most common law jurisdictions, UK qualifications opens more doors (for example, in offshore law firms and the Caribbean, UK qualifications alone and/or combined with PQE are welcomed).

    The UK LLM and QLTS (or what ever transfer option is in place by the time I sit examination) will hopefully help open those doors for me. Networking during my program is also my plan.

    We live in a transnational world. I just want to make certain that if I decide to move or live internationally, I have the qualifications in place.
    Were you a paralegal or working in another business function? 6 years of non qualified work means a training contract might actually be better for you, but really depends on which route you choose to take GDL + LPC + TC or QLTS. The only issue with the latter is if you are aiming for NQ roles in the U.K. You might struggle as you do not have the equivalent 2 years experience NQ lawyers in the U.K. have. But it sounds like you haven't got aspirations to work in the U.K., just gain the qualification, so this might not be an issue.

    I don't know enough about other jurisdictions, but the GDL will be worthless on its own. There's no point doing it unless you go on to do the LPC and then a training contract. If you are going to take the QLTS to become an English qualified lawyer, then the GDL will not be worth the paper it's written on.




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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Were you a paralegal or working in another business function? 6 years of non qualified work means a training contract might actually be better for you, but really depends on which route you choose to take GDL + LPC + TC or QLTS. The only issue with the latter is if you are aiming for NQ roles in the U.K. You might struggle as you do not have the equivalent 2 years experience NQ lawyers in the U.K. have. But it sounds like you haven't got aspirations to work in the U.K., just gain the qualification, so this might not be an issue.

    I don't know enough about other jurisdictions, but the GDL will be worthless on its own. There's no point doing it unless you go on to do the LPC and then a training contract. If you are going to take the QLTS to become an English qualified lawyer, then the GDL will not be worth the paper it's written on.
    Thank you.

    I worked 6 years as a paralegal (both at a large firm and in-house bank counsel). Would my post-graduate experience in the US not count as 2 years experience? I will be working from August of this year. Must my experience be limited to UK shores?
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Thank you.

    I worked 6 years as a paralegal (both at a large firm and in-house bank counsel). Would my post-graduate experience in the US not count as 2 years experience? I will be working from August of this year. Must my experience be limited to UK shores?
    The UK system is complicated and quite traditional. It means there are various quirks to it. It depends on the content of your postgrad experience as to how it is viewed.

    If you qualify in the US, your best bet to work in the U.K. will be to transfer through a firm to their London office from the US and work as a US qualified lawyer until you complete the QLTS.

    But the vast majority of roles in London will require knowledge of and qualifications in English law. That is typically a two year training contract + LPC + PSC. You will be trying to enter a market where English qualified lawyers by default have a minimum of 2 years experience - you will be competing with them with 0 years experience (unless your previous experience in the US has given you exposure to a lot of English law aspects). Even with the QLTS which allows you to practice as a dual qualified lawyer, you are potentially not as competitive as you lack the two years experience in English law.

    There will be firms who look for dual qualified lawyers as the matters they work on cross those jurisdictions, but those roles are far fewer in number, and are often filled with internal transfers at a junior level. Any other recruitment for the type of role you are looking for are done through the same hiring programmes run in NY, and often require the same high standards they apply.




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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Do you think I will be considered overqualified for a TC?
    No, at a lot of firms the average age of trainees has been increasing. You get a few people fresh out of uni+GDL+LPC but you also get people with a few years work experience.

    (Original post by Golden436)
    With regards to your second point, it appears UK qualifications trump (no pun intended) JD qualifications internationally. At least for most common law jurisdictions, UK qualifications opens more doors (for example, in offshore law firms and the Caribbean, UK qualifications alone and/or combined with PQE are welcomed).
    It is the experience more than the qualification that matters once you are a few years into your career. I imagine that most of the work in the Caribbean/offshore will involve investment funds work and private client work, perhaps with a bit of general corporate/finance/litigation.

    If you have a few years experience in those areas, happy days. But if you decide to become (for example) a real estate lawyer, employment lawyer, competition lawyer, commercial lawyer, start-up supreemo, securitisation specialist etc. etc. then moving to those countries is going to be a lot more difficult regardless of what qualification you have.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    No, at a lot of firms the average age of trainees has been increasing. You get a few people fresh out of uni+GDL+LPC but you also get people with a few years work experience.
    This is good to know, though I fear international applicants have a far more difficult time securing a TC. I've reached out to BPP Law School to specifically inquire on the percentage of their international students that secured TCs and they have been silent. That speaks volumes. Great for the sales pitch but can't back it up with hard numbers, at least for their international students.


    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    It is the experience more than the qualification that matters once you are a few years into your career. I imagine that most of the work in the Caribbean/offshore will involve investment funds work and private client work, perhaps with a bit of general corporate/finance/litigation.
    Yes, and apparently tax, too.

    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    If you have a few years experience in those areas, happy days. But if you decide to become (for example) a real estate lawyer, employment lawyer, competition lawyer, commercial lawyer, start-up supreemo, securitisation specialist etc. etc. then moving to those countries is going to be a lot more difficult regardless of what qualification you have.
    True, though there are a few more specialties that have apparently become a need in the region and a lack of attorneys with such experience/qualifications.

    Thanks so much for your insight! I have a lot to consider before I make the jump.
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    Does anyone know if qualifying as a lawyer in NY disqualifies me from being considered a non-law graduate for GDL/LPC sponsorship?

    So long as I am not a registered solicitor in England and Wales I can still potentially go the GDL route and obtain a TC, correct?
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    Does anyone know if qualifying as a lawyer in NY disqualifies me from being considered a non-law graduate for GDL/LPC sponsorship?

    So long as I am not a registered solicitor in England and Wales I can still potentially obtain go the GDL route and obtain a TC, correct?
    It doesn't automatically disqualify you, but any recruiter would wonder why you were putting yourself through 2 years of further qualifications (and probably the best part of £30k worth of fees) when you could take the QLTS and do the equivalent of a TC as a "legal assistant" (this is what some firms do with qualified lawyers from other jurisdictions). There just doesn't seem any sense in taking the GDL + LPC + Training contract route when you can bypass either part of (GDL + LPC) or even all of it if you have relevant work experience.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    It doesn't automatically disqualify you, but any recruiter would wonder why you were putting yourself through 2 years of further qualifications (and probably the best part of £30k worth of fees) when you could take the QLTS and do the equivalent of a TC as a "legal assistant" (this is what some firms do with qualified lawyers from other jurisdictions). There just doesn't seem any sense in taking the GDL + LPC + Training contract route when you can bypass either part of (GDL + LPC) or even all of it if you have relevant work experience.
    It wouldn't matter any if the fees are all paid. I also note a number of firms that provide Tier 2 sponsorship for international applicants, including the firm I worked at for 4 years.

    But in all honestly, I want something other than my JD to assess my legal qualifications. My grades suck that much. Of course, that just adds additional pressure to do well on the GDL, but my first goal is to gain bar passage in New York.

    I have never heard of "legal assistant" roles but highly doubt I would qualify for them with my 2:2, especially if not all too many firms offer such roles. If they do, I suspect the competition will be fierce given the number of QLTS qualified attorneys from various jurisdictions with various language skills. I suspect there won't be too many NY qualified attorneys on the GDL program, though it appears a number of international law graduates sign up for it. BPP specifically mentions that the GDL is also open to "overseas law graduates".

    BPP Law School is about ready to sign me up, but I am due to speak to an administrator about their specific stats on placing their international applicants in TCs.
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    Can anyone please clarify the difference between "non-law students and graduates" and "law students" ?

    Is the latter LLB students and the former GDL? What's the difference between "non-law student" and "non-law graduates"? Are there applicants who take time off between their GDL and LPC to apply for a TC, and are therefore categorized as "non-law graduates"?

    If I enroll in the GDL, would I be considered a "non-law student" or a "law student" (given my JD qualifications)?

    I simply ask as some firms list different TC application deadlines for each category.
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    (Original post by Golden436)
    It wouldn't matter any if the fees are all paid. I also note a number of firms that provide Tier 2 sponsorship for international applicants, including the firm I worked at for 4 years.

    But in all honestly, I want something other than my JD to assess my legal qualifications. My grades suck that much. Of course, that just adds additional pressure to do well on the GDL, but my first goal is to gain bar passage in New York.

    I have never heard of "legal assistant" roles but highly doubt I would qualify for them with my 2:2, especially if not all too many firms offer such roles. If they do, I suspect the competition will be fierce given the number of QLTS qualified attorneys from various jurisdictions with various language skills. I suspect there won't be too many NY qualified attorneys on the GDL program, though it appears a number of international law graduates sign up for it. BPP specifically mentions that the GDL are also open to "overseas law graduates".

    BPP Law School is about ready to sign me up, but I am due to speak to an administrator about their specific stats on placing their international applicants in TCs.
    Ok that's even worse - why would a firm put you through what is close to £45k worth of training (fees + maintenance fees) when they can just ask you to go through the QLTS which will be far cheaper and quicker!?!

    The "legal assistant" role is a TC - it is just for those who can't technically be called a trainee where they are qualified in another jurisdiction.

    Your 2.2 will be as much as a blocker for a TC as it will be for a "legal assistant" role. If your grades suck, they will still suck when you come round to applying. Few firms will be interested as 1) you have poor grades and they will typically look for a 2.1 (GPA is usually around the 3.3-3.4 mark), 2) it will be more difficult for them to prove they could have recruited someone of the same standard as you from within the UK/EU if your grades suck (your words not mine), and if they have on any of their marketing materials that you need a strong academic background (pretty much any firm that can sponsor you for a Tier 2 visa will say that).

    The GDL and LPC will not prove your academic ability - most firms sponsoring a work permit will want to see strong grades throughout, and are more likely to focus on your undergrad and JD grades than the GDL/LPC. Plus you are suggesting the firm would sponsor you before you had done either course, so they would only be able to go on your previous qualifications.

    Of course BPP will sign you up - the course could be redundant in less than 6 months time and they need to try and ensure they are getting enough money coming in while they can.
 
 
 
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