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?www.lawinfour.com