Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: dalgray on September 13, 2011, 12:56:36 AM

Title: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: dalgray on September 13, 2011, 12:56:36 AM
Nontraditional qualifications in the law will include choosing to qualify outside the United States. At first glance, this might sound crazy but this is a very serious point which is being overlooked for years by American law students time and again.

Here's the dirty secret, English lawyers regularly take the New York State and often the California state bar examinations. Why do they do this? To further their careers the very simple answer, and it does! What is slightly surprising is why American law students haven't calmed on to this one so far.

Currently, students here in the United States take a four year degree in a usually non-cognate subject then proceed to postgraduate law school for a further 3 1/2 years making it about 7/2 to 8 years or longer before presenting for the state bar exams. This is so conventional that very few students could even contemplate bucking the system especially law students are some of the most hidebound folk on the University campus. Sorry to make the comment around sad to relate it is true more often than not. For all the so-called radicals they are perhaps the most hidebound and narrow minded entities on campus.

So if you can buck the system, how would you do it? Firstly, that me tell you something about qualifying in England and why it is so radically different. While the law is much the same the method of qualification really is different and here's why. The traditional law degree is the LLB taken straight from high school; this degree qualifies you to come a solicitor or barrister. Barristers take a year at bar school after the LLB degree then a further year in pupillage supervised by capable master, a senior barrister who schools them to the year while they conduct in this second six months a fully fledged practice under some light supervision. Once you have completed the degree, bar school, and your pupillage you become fully qualified and this means you are a qualified foreign lawyer from a common law jurisdiction and thus you have privileges within the state bar exam regimes. Go look it up, you will find Byzantine rules but nevertheless you should be able to qualify within four or five years from leaving high school as an attorney at law. Recently, in the UK, with ever rising University fees, some bachelor’s degrees including law and now offered in two years flat. This is managed by utilizing the summer vacation for extra lectures and tutorials.

The book Law in Four has been published in August dealing with just how to utilize this difference between the jurisdictions and qualify as an attorney at law and a barrister at law in as little as four years from leaving high school. Yes it can be done and frankly it should be there is no good reason why eight years should be the norm for becoming an attorney at law, it is time to change it.

Universities such as Cardiff in Wales have been offering students from America courses for the LLB tailored for their desire to become attorneys at law as well as qualifying in the UK. Go look it up an e-mail them you will get the lowdown on how that particular college approaches the whole issue.

The book is designed to court publicity of the winners and losers costs which are now being introduced in Texas, Britain has a very sophisticated costs awards system the obviates the need for tort reform, read the book and you'll find out how this works. Also you will find in the book a discussion about possible ways to reform the qualification process for attorneys at law. Currently, the JD is the Junior degree to the LLM degree which is a true postgraduate degree this is because the original award from law school once the LLB degree later transmogrified into the JD. One simple reform would be to split professional legal training into two main parts as is done in the UK. The LLB should be reintroduced at the undergraduate level training students for two years, or three at worst, as paralegals. The postgraduate stage should be a two year program inclusive of a clerkship much like the English pupillage with practical real in office in the courts on the job legal training.

There is a great deal involved in qualifying as a barrister, or a solicitor for that matter, but it is eminently possible for American law students to qualify via the UK and repatriate to the states with a dual qualification in two jurisdictions.
One thing you will be meeting when you look for jobs is hundreds of other JD graduates, but of course you won't have a JD but you will have real experience in more than one jurisdiction with access to European Union and of course to many of the old British Commonwealth nations. Those of you who speak European languages might choose to extend your LLB's up to four years to include qualifications admissions to state bars in many of the European Union states. That would give you three jurisdictions are completed within the time it takes to get the usual traditional JD and state bar exam. The book Law in Four covers much of this in outline.
True alternative and nontraditional approaches to qualifying as attorneys at law are eminently possible and should be part of the consideration process prior to committing to many years of financial penury and of course extended duration of qualifying by the current educational process for lawyers in United States.

The traditional qualification route is fine so long as  You assume that it's cost and duration are reasonable, if that is okay for you take on the debt and of course lose all those extra years that you could save by choosing other ways.

British universities, much like many universities in the states are well versed in looking after foreign students and are very helpful in respect of all the administrative requirements of qualifying for entry to UK colleges and universities. All this is dealt with in the book see info at

Thank you to the reader for taking the time to read this article. Those of you with critical comments please make them sensible and not just vituperate responses. It is not the intention of the author to insult anybody but merely to point out that there are useful alternatives.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on November 19, 2011, 03:36:13 PM
There are a few problems:

1.  Most American high school graduates would flounder in an English LLB program. The majority of them cannot string two sentences together and have no idea of history or law.

2.  Living in England is not going to be cheaper than an undergraduate school in the US.

3.  The LLB would be of little use unless the American were able to get a practising certificate as a solicitor.

4.  Once they obtain a PC, they still would need a work permit.

5.  Then with requisite experience, they might be able to take the New York and few other bars, though it is just as likely a LLM might be required first by the bar examiners.

6.  As a non EU citizen, the European lawyer scheme does not apply.

7.  Aside from English territories, reciprocity is not available.

The better route is to get the JD, pass any bar, get two years PQE and take the QLTS open book exam in New York and immediately qualify as an English solicitor.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: FalconJimmy on November 19, 2011, 04:34:54 PM
The better route is to get the JD, pass any bar, get two years PQE and take the QLTS open book exam in New York and immediately qualify as an English solicitor.

Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on November 19, 2011, 06:56:26 PM
The QLTS is not as straight forward as the QLTT it replaced - the QLTT was a three day open book (outlines provided by the test provider!) exam in New York.

If you get a Practising Certificate, better read the rules, England has both a Law Society and a Solicitors Regulatory Authority - being a non resident solicitor can be lucrative but you need a plan to make it work.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: dalgray on February 25, 2012, 10:09:03 AM
Jonlevy could do well to consider my book  Law in Four where he will discover that the idea of just taking a JD isn’t what it appears to be.

First you have to take four years undergraduate training in a non law program, pre law courses are not much help nor any cheaper. Jonlevy misses the essential point that in the USA you need to be 4 years at an undergraduate degree course before you even darken the doors at a US postgraduate law school.

For your JD you must study for a further 3 years

Finally the bar exam is at least 6 month of study and, for many, a year or more.

I reckon that to be about 7 to 8 years or so! Or am I missing something?

Now to take JonLevy’s points seriatim:-

The LLB program will be beyond US high schoolers. Rubbish, English high school kids are no brighter or more stupid and as a whole they cope just fine so what would be so difficult for an American?

The LLB program is hard but no harder than any US professional school degree course where you need to be above average to qualify.

The legal history point is otiose, English school kids are no more equipped with history relevant to common law study. In any event history is a matter of reading suitable law and constitutional history texts. My book does have a chapter on the subject just so that the American student is forewarned.

Living in England is not that much different that living in any major US town. The point in my book is that you can save years off qualifying which is a significant saving whichever way you look at it.

The LLB is of little use to anyone unless they are a solicitor or barrister; likewise a JD isn’t much use either unless you are admitted to a state bar. So where is the point here?

What exactly is the point about work permits? Yes you need one to reside in the UK and work in England; likewise you need a green card in the US. Immigration rules will need to be complied with in all jurisdictions, a double qualified lawyer will be well set for applying for residential status on either side of the Atlantic, if he is hired by a firm in the UK for his US legal background or vise versa, work permit acquisition will not be difficult. I will leave Jonlevy to work out why that would be the case.

“Then with requisite experience, they might be able to take the New York and few other bars, though it is just as likely a LLM might be required first by the bar examiners.” Precisely the point, take a US bar exam is quicker and both in time and money if you approach it for the UK perspective.

“As a non EU citizen, the European lawyer scheme does not apply” Many Americans have language and cultural connections to states in the EU and thus are able to apply for dual national status. Having a professional qualification recognized within the EU makes the access point reasonable and lucrative for such individuals. It is not without some bureaucratic difficulties that qualifying the EU may be but for a lawyer that shouldn’t be any objection. Non EU citizens may have some limits but for many Americans this is unlikely to be an impediment.

Reciprocity is available within most Commonwealth states my book outlines and lists the details and in the Kindle version you have direct internet access from the book to the relevant Bar associations and admission authorities. Some countries are more resistant than others. The level of reciprocity is variable but nevertheless a UK and US qualification would carry considerable weight with local bars in most cases. Is it an absolute? Of course not. Having dual qualification in two professions myself I had to comply with considerable training and practical experience requirements to be admitted to practice, this is inevitable but never impossible.

“The better route is to get the JD, pass any bar, get two years PQE and take the QLTS open book exam in New York and immediately qualify as an English solicitor.” This is preposterous, it will take four years for the undergraduate degree, three years for the JD and probably one further year for the state bar and then what? Take the Law Society’s qualification some 7 to 8 years after high school!

The point is simply this; it is now possible for a bright diligent American high school student to take a 2 year intensive LLB, a UK bar exam, pupillage, then a US state bar exam rendering them dual qualified in about 4 and half years from leaving high school. It would take a year longer to be a solicitor. Yes some state bars might cavil at the speed of qualification but they would be wrong to do so here’s why:-

The two year LLB degree is a compressed course that has the same amount of teaching and tutorial time as the traditional 3 year LLB degree. The bar final or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) is one year then there is the mandatory year of pupillage. The total training time is four years of law, two years undergraduate one year professional school and one year’s apprenticeship, all in all some 4 years at law school and under training.

Note the LLB degree is directly equivalent to 3 years work at law school so the real training time in the UK is five years legal training in all! Now in the US you get 3 years for your JD and that is all, the Bar exam cannot be rated as a legal training it is an admission test nothing more. In the UK the Bar course and exam is a thorough preparation to be a trial lawyer with practical legal skills ranging from case analysis, drafting documents, advocacy and the like. While it is prerequisite for admission or call to the Bar it is ultimately a real training to do the work of a court room lawyer. The training is topped off with a pupillage including time in court fully responsible for carrying a real case load.

The LLM point is a possible issue. So why not take on during your pupillage if you think you need one before returning to the US? The LLM degree in England is usually a one year degree and is usually treated as valid in the US as a proper LLM degree. A law student worth his salt should be able to argue that he has more real law study under his belt than most JD students and he has practical legal court work to boot and thus an extra LLM is an insult and frankly a restraint of trade imposition nothing more.

It is my submission that training via the UK is a valid route and should be seriously considered by Americans. By selecting law schools and, and within those schools courses that favour an American law US student’s long term needs he or she can save years and obtain a better legal education for the most part plus practical legal training on the job that isn’t available in the US. The dual qualification route directly via the UK makes sense so much so that there are many UK lawyers taking the NY bar and other bars directly after qualification at home in England. So why shouldn’t Americans do the same in a shorter time at less expense?
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 25, 2012, 08:35:14 PM
I quite agree, becoming a solicitor or barrister is a better and more straight forward process with reciprocity elsewhere in the Commonwealth and EU.  However, one will likely need a LLM to qualify to take the New York Bar and some PQE.  If one's goal is the New York Bar, it is a round about way to do it.

The other rather delicate problem is one of a work permit for a non EU citizen.  If there is a work around for that I'd like to hear it.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: CWFirm on March 27, 2012, 01:59:36 PM
I've actually heard of a friend of mine in high school that took this route. I haven't heard of the potential complications, but I'm sure the logistics would be a little more detailed than your original post implies. However, it is intriguing for anyone interested enough in being a little adventurous in their plan of study.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: dalgray on August 16, 2012, 09:22:53 PM
To close the subject with some current information, the University of Cardiff Law School now posits on its web site that you can qualify in as little as 3 and half years from leaving high school. This is years faster than the traditional route so why is everyone ignoring this?

Here is their web link for students from the US. (
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on August 18, 2012, 06:59:53 PM
How does a non EU citizen qualify for a training contract at the end of the degree without a work permit?
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on August 21, 2012, 04:35:46 PM
I note the original poster has no answer on the work permit issue, curious eh?
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on August 21, 2012, 06:33:35 PM
It's very difficult to obtain a work permit if you're not a doctor or scientist. The EU is very protective of its professions, far more than the U.S. My cousin recently took a job in Denmark, but was only able to get it because he's a dual U.S./Irish citizen. Without that, he said he wouldn't have been hired. The work permit process is too cumbersome on the employer.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on August 22, 2012, 01:43:14 PM
I have a current Practising Certificate for England and I can't get a work permit. 

The scheme outlined would only be viable for a US citizen who has dual citizenship from a EU country.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: jaycube on October 22, 2012, 11:13:43 PM
England always have the good infrastructure for law and education so this point is very well known studding law in England is a good factor.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: dalgray on November 06, 2012, 02:59:42 PM
Yes I do have a reply on work permits.

Work permits are always obtainable and will of course be dependent on the employer having a good reason to employ the student for the duration of their training, that may require a visit to an immigration lawyer in the UK or dealing with them online. Will it be easy? Probably not but far from impossible. If you have recent EU family connections such as Ireland you will be able to obtain a passport more likely than not. I have a friend who did just that. Laws are to be dealt with and if necessary circumlocuted that is the business of being a lawyer so get used to it! This starts from day one before you even get to law school if your really want to be a good one.

The other side of the coin is that you can maintain your training status as an active student by taking a part time LLM degree to maintain your stay as a bona fide student within Tier 4 of the immigration rules for the two years of your training contract. You will of course prepare for your state bar exam during this time aswell.

There will be more than one way to deal with this point and will only become an issue with the Home Office if there are a large number of takers for training as solicitors in the UK when of course the Home Office will create rules for dealing with this specific issue.

Barristers will have an easier deal as they are self-employed and will not require “employment” to fulfill the Home Office rules. In the final analysis the student will need to be resourceful and find a way to deal with his particular case. I never said it would be easy but it can be done.

Here is the updated link for Cardiff for US students my link above no longer works. You will see that they are especially well aware of US student requirements.

Now here is some news that is news. The new 2 year LLB degrees from some UK law schools as set out in my book will in theory permit qualification as an attorney at law in less than 3 years from high school. You will likely as not have to have a 1st class or Summa cum laude award to do this but it will, likely as not, work. Cardiff is clearly permitting rapid qualification for US students so why not cut a further year off from one of the two year law schools, there are obviously more possibilities than just Cardiff but it is a good school I know people from there who qualifed and have successful legal careers?

Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on November 06, 2012, 03:04:19 PM
But even if one is self employed, one needs to get their immigration status sorted out.

What is your take on the LLB online degree holders taking an online US LLM and then taking a US Bar exam?  And what about training contracts for non resident online LLB holders, pretty impossible without connections?

Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: dalgray on November 26, 2012, 12:19:38 PM
To answer the point inter alia:-

“What is your take on the LLB online degree holders taking an online US LLM and then taking a US Bar exam? And what about training contracts for non-resident online LLB holders, pretty impossible without connections”?

Online LLM degrees will probably not pass muster with most State Bars you would do well to canvass the State Bar of choice before even considering such a route. You would probably be better off obtaining a full time UK LLM degree with a US bias in your subject choices it would cost less and be of shorter duration one-year or so. Like it or not UK qualifications are regarded with some favor in the United States but as with anything else you have to test your desired qualification with the State Bar authorities. These are all listed on my website and in the book obtainable for free see below.

If you look at the Cardiff Law School web site re US students they make it clear that you can go direct to the NY bar, presumably if you have top grades, so why take an LLM? It is my view that it is better to fully qualify as a barrister first as that is a common law professional status that stands in its own right and would be a good surrogate for an LLM and cost wise is perhaps a better choice. The Bar professional training course plus pupillage is a very potent offering in the market place in the US coupled with the state bar admission. Becoming a lawyer is a rat race exercise and it is a good idea to be the bigger rat in the race. Dual qualification is a very significant status especially if it costs you less money and takes less time than the traditional route to becoming an attorney at law here in the United States. It is the purpose of my book to advance this possibility as well as offer by the way commentary on expensive untimely legal education which on the face of it is difficult to justify.

For those who qualify as barristers and take the traditional way via pupillage and tenancy they will be self-employed and should not have much of a problem with the immigration authorities. If you’re transatlantic in your practice then you'll have no problem coming and going on the usual visas for US visitors to and from United States so long as you are self-employed and you check in with the immigration authorities on the matter. My book deals with the process of qualifying first and foremost especially concerning student immigration status. There will be a new edition in the not-too-distant future in which I will examine this point more particularly.

Becoming a solicitor, even with a practicing certificate, could still be a problem as you will have to be employed by someone who is prepared to sponsor you and provide the wherewithal for you to obtain legal immigration status to remain and work in the UK. You may of course marry one of your UK law school compatriots or someone outside the law which will of course ensure your immigration resident status. My late wife had no trouble acquiring UK status from the home office and vice versa years later for me via the US Embassy in London; I obtained my green card permitting me permanent residence here in New Hampshire the live free or die state.

Given the hideous level of expense and time to become an attorney it strikes me that qualifying in the UK is a worthwhile project, how you play that out is up to the individual and always will be. Immigration rules are a tricky area of the law but for wannabe lawyers that should be grist to the mill and good experience on your way to becoming a lawyer much like time you might spend working pro bono or doing other voluntary quasi-legal work before you qualify.

In the spirit of assistance for all and sundry if you wish to have a copy of my book in the current edition please e-mail me at   and I will be pleased to send you a PDF version of the book free of charge. This I will provide for a short time for those who are interested, you will be able to post your copy of the book on to anyone you like if you think it will help them. There is a copyright notice in the PDF version of the book that makes it clear that you can do what you will with copying the book even printing it out but you must not sell it.
Title: Re: Studying Law in England it is faster & cheaper!
Post by: legalpractitioner on November 28, 2012, 05:46:02 PM
Very kind of you to make that offer.