How to practice law in the UK with a European degree

How to be a lawyer in the UK

It’s easier to immigrate to another country with degrees like engineering, biology, physics, tourism, veterinary science, marketing, etc. which almost don’t require additional validation or certification to work within the European Union.

Then there are the degrees like law, where local legislation is essential to your studies and, therefore, affects future access to the labor market in each region.

I have no legal education, but I’ve done a little research and in today’s article I will summarize how to practice British law, both when studying in UK and abroad. If you have any comments, please do add them at the end of the article. I like having your feedback 🙂

Differences between the UK and some other countries

The Common Law (the Anglo-Saxon Law) is the legal system that applies in Britain, and is an uncoded right of jurisprudential origin and is prepared by judges on a case by case basis to resolve disputes between individuals. “Like in American films.”

On the other hand, the Civil Law, (law of Roman tradition), applies the coding legal norms, enacted by the legislative function. So the judges have to conform to what the laws say at all times, made in the Parliament and other political bodies.

Barrister & Solicitor

The Solicitor, in general, has the function of advising clients in different areas of law and taking charge of extrajudicial affairs: preparation of the essential documents for a case, obtaining evidence, etc. Sometimes, they can also represent their clients in courts of first instance or superior courts.

Other places in Europe have the Barrister, responsible for representing people and court litigation. It works this way because the legal systems of the Common Law are complex and require expertise for all legal precedents and procedures to follow.

Another alternative: Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). There are almost no differences between these lawyers and solicitors, they can represent clients in court, advise them in all procedures and register with the SRA. More info:

Academic Education and Access:

The regulatory body in charge of approving a solicitor (a lawyer) is the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Studying in England or Wales

  1. LLB (3 years)
  2. Studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC), equivalent to the Legal Practice Course in Spain.
  3. Training Contract, the 2 -year education practice supervised by a solicitor.

It is also possible to practice this profession if you have studied another degree in the UK. In that case, you must take a conversion course before the LPC called Common Professional Examination (CPE) o Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

Studying in Scotland

As many of you may know, or not, Scotland has exclusive legislation and competence in many areas separate from the rest of England and Wales. The procedures are often similar, but you have to study the Scottish Law:

How to become a Scottish solicitor
How to qualify as a lawyer in Scotland

Having studied law in another EU country

It is possible to become solicitor if a collegiate lawyer in other jurisdictions (Europe) validates the title through the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS).

  1. Get the “certicate of elegibility” by the SRA, submitting the application with all documentation showing that you are a lawyer in the EU, that you can practice the profession in your country, and that you have the required level of English. The certificate is valid for five years.
  2. Then you have to pass two exams: the first is the Multiple Choice Test (MCT). There are 180 questions on the Common Law and its theoretical subjects.
  3. The second one is the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). It is the practical part: you have to write documents in English, look for precedents, defend a case, etc.
  4. Once you pass everything, you become a member of the SRA .

You will find detailed steps on how to apply for the QTLS here:

Other opportunities for EU lawyers in the UK:

  1. Work in offices that practice the law in your country, with British clients residing there or who have other interests there.
  2. Work for a bank as an “In House Lawyer” or in the “Compliance” department, where there is a lot of demand due to changes in legislation.
  3. Search vacancies for a “Paralegal Assistant” at any work website. Depending on the offer, it is not even necessary to have a law degree, but sometimes it is. Sometimes assistants are needed because they speak other languages ​or have knowledge in other administrative areas, such as trade.

More information:

Solicitors Regulation Authority
The Law Society
Information from the website
A Spanish lawyer in London
SRA – QLTS Regulations 2011
Difference between solicitor, barrister, attorney and lawyer

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