I'm interested in doing the same thing, not necessarily with France - but somewhere in Europe. I know that we'd have to take the European version of the bar exam.
London's still Europe Switzerland's still Europe too.OK...we should probably email one of the career counselors at a school we're attending. I nominate Anner to do it!
There can be little doubt that, for the American lawyer, the process of becoming licensed in England is far easier than the transfer license process for any other jurisdiction. This is true for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important, and most obvious, is language. Second, England is a common law jurisdiction; hence English lawyers approach problems in a fashion similar to their American counterparts. Third, the process and requirements are far from onerous. That being said, however, it is essential to remember that England has a distinctly different legal system. One of the most notable differences is that the legal profession is divided into solicitors and barristers.The solicitors are, by far, the larger of the two professional groups. They do almost everything that we normally associate with ‘‘lawyer’s work’’ except in-court advocacy in front of the higher courts and the presentation of appellate cases. Solicitors and barristers are not permitted to work together as a law firm. Solicitors’ offices and barristers’ chambers are always completely separate and distinct. Barristers are not hired by the client. The client retains a solicitor and when the services of a barrister are necessary, the solicitor retains a barrister to argue the case.Transfer admission as a barrister is done through the Bar Council. However, at the practical level, given the ethical constraints of the barrister’s profession and the serious difficulties of establishing a practice, it would be almost pointless for an American lawyer to obtain a professional qualification as a barrister unless he or she intends to relocate to England and practice full time as a barrister.The Law Society of England and Wales oversees the admission of overseas lawyers wishing to become solicitors. Those of us who have endured the Byzantine complexities of a state bar admission process and the burdensome details of the National Board of Law Examiners forms will be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of applying for admission to the law society.1Admission follows a three-step process. The first step, making an application, is quite straightforward. The law society has a short form, consisting of 24 questions, providing contact details, educational background, professional experience, contact details for three professional references, copies of college and law school diplomas, and state law license. In this process, you must satisfy the society that:• you have graduated from law school;• you hold a license to practice law;• you have actively practiced law for at least two years;• you have not been in bankruptcy or convicted of a crime; and• you have not previously been disbarred or subject to professional discipline.2If you meet the criteria, you will receive a certificate of eligibility and a letter telling you which examinations you must pass. The second, and more burdensome, step in the process is the admission examinations. If you went to law school in a common law jurisdiction and speak English fluently, you will be required to take three examinations:• Property• Litigation (civil or criminal procedure)• Professional Conduct and Solicitor’s AccountsThese examinations do not come close to the difficulty of an American bar examination. The property examination requires you to know the steps involved in a real estate closing in England. While it is a more complicated procedure than a closing in the United States, it is not difficult to master. The litigation examination requires you to know the basic steps in either English criminal or civil litigation. Criminal cases proceed somewhat differently in England than America but civil procedure looks remarkably the same. The third examination, professional conduct and solicitor’s accounts, poses fewer difficulties. The English rules of professional conduct and the American rules are virtually identical. The portion of the exam devoted to solicitor’s accounts requires the basics of double-entry bookkeeping and readily distinguishing the solicitor’s funds from your client’s.Clearly, you will not pass these examinations without any preparation. There are four schools that provide short courses (about 60 hours) designed specifically to prepare applicants for these examinations, and one school that provides correspondence courses. Alternatively, you can elect to purchase the written materials, which include prior examination questions and answers and practice tests. The core materials are not voluminous (a few hundred pages) and provide you with everything you need to pass the examinations.The examinations are not given by the law society but by the same providers who offer the preparation courses. You do not have to take the classes or buy the materials from the provider in order to sit for the exam with them, although you will have to pay a reasonable examination fee. While the exams generally are given in London, in the past they have been offered in New York and Toronto.Each exam topic consists of a three-hour essay exam and you must score at least 50 percent overall to pass. You may repeat one exam without retaking the others and you may take them one at a time. The pass rate on these examinations approaches 90 percent, and this includes examinees whose native language is not English and whose law school training was in non-common law systems. In short, with a reasonable degree of preparation, the exams are not difficult.The final step is pro forma and consists of the submission of the exam results and your actual admission to the law society.
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