Considering converting….to English law?

No, nothing to do with the Pope's visit, just a question of law-conversion which interests a number of Scots law students. Strange as it may seem, not everyone wants to stay in Scotland – some students are attracted to the law south of the Border, in particular the larger City and International law firms in London. So, I just want to flag up information which will help you when considering this transition.

First thing to consider:

A) –  do you want to jump lock stock and barrel into English law – via the 1 year conversion course (commonly known as GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) or CPE (Common Professional Exams), closely followed by the LPC (Legal Practice Course) if you want to be a solicitor, or the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) if you fancy your chances at the Bar – OR

B) – do you want to qualify in Scotland first, then convert to English law via the QLTS (Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme)

C) – (NB do NOT take this option if you can avoid it – it will cost you money and a year of your life!) – transfer after the Scots diploma and before completeing a traineeship and qualifying in Scotland. Apart from proving that you can pass exams and have an interest in law, the diploma on its own will not give you any advantage on your LLB when it comes to converting to English law without being a qualified Scots lawyer. You will still have to spend 2 years converting to English law, and getting a 2 year training contract in England. You can do this without the diploma, just with your LLB!

So, that leaves options A) and B). Which should you choose? Well as with everything to do with personal career choices – that depends…..on you and what you want. I'll try to spell out below some of the pros and cons of each route.

Route A)

Pros:

 – Scots law LLB graduates usually get some exemptions from the conversion course (GDL/CPE), so you can do it part-time, via distance learning etc, and do other interesting things at the same time. Examples from previous grads includ working the ski season in Europe and just showing up for the weekend residential courses, or using the time to gain further experience in legal work.

 – some big English law firms actually pay you to do the course, if you've managed to secure a training contract with one of them.

 Cons:

 – course fees and living costs can be very expensive, particularly the LPC, unless you have a training contract/pupillage with a firm/chambers that pays your fees

 – competition for training contracts/pupillage is at least as fierce in England as it is in Scotland, if not more so!

Route B)

Pros:

 – Until recently I could have said with certainty that you'd be able to get dual qualification via an exam or 2, and applying to the SRA (Solicitors Regualtion Authority) in England. As rules changed at the end of August, I can't say this with any certainty any more! However, it is still likely (though dont hold me to this – things wont be finalised till October!) that you'll be able to qualify whilst working – thus saving you that extra year converting straight after your LLB via the GDL (what an alphabet soup of abbreviations!) There's lots more on this on the SRA website – their information on the new QLTS (Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme) – plus information from their one and only assessment organisation, Kaplan .

Cons:

– The above – the fact that this is a new scheme so not a 'tried and tested' route!

– if you're certain you want to work in England, you may not want to spend an extra 3 years in the Scottish system when you could have gone south after your LLB

These are just a few things off the top of my head to demonstrate the need to weigh things up carefully for your own situation!

And if you do decide on route A –  come along and meet some real live English law firms at the Careers Fair on 5-6th Oct and at their presentations. Plus all the legal  information you can handle via our Legal Services links!

Phew, this has been a long post, and it's time I was going home….  If, after reading the above and investigating the links, you want to weigh up the pros and cons with a real live and objective listener – come and talk to a careers adviser – not here to 'convert' you, but to offer impartial advice and guidance to help you come to your own informed decision.

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2 Responses to Considering converting….to English law?

  1. jean byrd says:

    Hi there, i am a qualified attorney in South Africa (B.Proc LLB), admitted in 2002. What course should i complete to be able to practice in Scotland?

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