Like many other lawyers, I have always had an interest in international and English law, but I have never heard of dual qualification as a lawyer. Luckily, there’s a simple path to becoming a lawyer in just one year with the new Lawyer Qualifying Examination (SQE). When I became aware of this opportunity, I jumped at the chance to internationalize my career, expand my options and increase my employability in the US market and abroad.
England has long been a popular destination for legal professionals looking to work overseas, provide multi-jurisdictional legal advice, or both. While a move abroad is the dream of some, many others (like me) are seeking dual qualification as solicitors in England and Wales with no real intention of moving to the UK or elsewhere.
SQE in brief
During my research on the SQE, I discovered that the exam offered a pathway to fast track an international legal career by becoming dual qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales. The SQE allows lawyers qualified in jurisdictions other than the UK to gain a competitive edge by taking the exam and obtaining their solicitor’s licence.
The SQE exam is conducted in two parts: SQE1, which assesses a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of English law via multiple choice. It contains 360 multiple-choice questions over two days. You can take this exam at a testing site in your home jurisdiction, if available. The SQE2 tests practical lawyering skills. During this exam, you will be tested on Client Interviews, Attendance Note/Legal Analysis, Advocacy and Oral Presentation, Legal Research/Writing/Writing over the course of five days.
Find your reason to qualify
International arbitration of London rule of law and English law. the Choice in International Arbitration A survey by Queen Mary University of London and White & Case LLP found that London is the preferred seat of international arbitration and that 48% of businesses use English law for cross-border transactions.
Recruitment opportunities in law firms. Most Vault 100 law firms have international arbitration and other international practices. Leading law firms are eager to recruit US attorneys who provide multi-disciplinary/multi-jurisdictional legal services to their clients and can advise them on cross-border transactions or proceedings.
Opportunities for recruitment elsewhere. Fortune 500 companies and Big 4 accounting firms have offices in the UK, as well as around the world. Knowledge of US and UK laws in cross-border transactions can set you apart if you are employed in this context.
Stand apart. The double qualification gives an advantage to your CV.
Expand your network. You can expand your network by participating in international bar association sectors, as well as other connection resources to propel your career forward.
Practice abroad. As a licensed attorney, you could technically “hang your own shingle” and start a practice in these countries. Of course, serious visa and registration issues would have to be resolved.