Being able to practise as a solicitor in more than one jurisdiction is one way that people choose to either further their careers or their career prospects. Scottish solicitors are sought-after throughout the world, so it's a career that can take you anywhere.
The process for dual-qualification including the costs, timescales and eligibility requirements depend on the specific jurisdiction you would like to dual-qualify into. In every case, you need to research and contact the appropriate regulating body in that country.
Dual-qualifying within the UK and Ireland:
- To dual-qualify into England and Wales you would apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority to qualify via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).
- To dual-qualify into Northern Ireland, visit the Law Society of Northern Ireland's website to find out more.
- To dual-qualify into the Republic of Ireland, visit the Law Society of Ireland's website to find out more.
Where you consider dual-qualifying really depends on where you want to work, or which qualifications will open up the best career opportunities for you.
We can only advise on the process for qualifying as a Scottish solicitor from another jurisdiction. If this applies to you, visit our page to find out more about the Qualified Lawyers Assessment.
There are various benefits that people may experience from becoming dual-qualified, including:.
Further your internal career prospectsThere are some employers, particularly cross-border firms, who may encourage their employees to qualify in another jurisdiction. This can help firms attract business both sides of the border, or it might be a method of increasing flexibility by ensuring all members of staff are able to serve their existing client base.
Open up different career opportunitiesSome people choose to dual-qualify as a way of opening up potential career opportunities, either to target roles with employers abroad or with Scottish-based employers that might value this type of expertise to serve different sectors or client bases.
Attract new clientsIf you are looking strategically about how to broaden your client base and it's relevant to the sector or area of law you work in, having expertise in another jurisdiction might allow you to tap into clients in a different market.
Live abroadSome people are driven towards dual-qualification as more of a lifestyle choice. Being qualified in another jurisdiction gives you the chance to live somewhere new without having to re-start a career.
To bring some of the benefits and practicalities of dual-qualifying to life, read the testimonials below from Scottish solicitors who have dual-qualified in jurisdictions including Ireland, England & Wales and New York.
"I started my career as a Scottish solicitor in 2015, working between Edinburgh and London. Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union I qualified as a solicitor in Ireland. Like many others who did this, I wanted to ensure that I could continue to represent clients in European proceedings while securing the privilege of such advice. My career then led me to a more permanent role in London. This role entailed a significant amount of English litigation so I chose to qualify in England & Wales. Although the exams have been challenging, I have enjoyed getting to grips with these different legal systems. We live in an increasingly globalised world and our clients’ businesses often reflect this. In my experience, clients and firms really value the ability to provide multi-jurisdictional advice."
"I am an Associate in the Disputes and Investigations team at Slaughter and May in London. I am qualified in Scotland, England & Wales and the State of New York. In 2018, I took part in the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) with Scots law exemptions, which led to my admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England & Wales in May 2019. The qualification process is currently undergoing changes, but my journey involved sitting a multiple choice test (MCT) and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). I would highly recommend becoming qualified in England & Wales for a number of reasons. First, the QLTS taught me the core principles underpinning fundamental areas of English law (such as Contract, Property, Trusts and Equity, Criminal and Legal System) which could (and often do) land on my desk as a multi-specialist disputes and investigations lawyer. Second, having a deeper knowledge of English law has given me more confidence in my daily tasks and has made me feel more comfortable generally in my role as a legal advisor in the jurisdiction of England & Wales. Third, I feel that the qualification has boosted my ability to advise clients internationally, as English law is one of the most widely traded laws in the world. Lastly, the admissions ceremony at the Law Society on Chancery Lane was a fantastic event at which I made some valuable contacts from the legal profession. Overall, the cross-qualification experience was definitely worthwhile and I would encourage anyone interested in broadening their practice and/or client base to consider qualifying in England & Wales."
"There are a lot of benefits to being dual-qualified. The most obvious advantages are increasing your career earning potential and helping you stand out more in a competitive job market in Scotland and the UK. On top of this, given New York is one of the most commonly chosen jurisdictions as the governing law in international transactions, there is significant value in being qualified as an attorney there. It also opens the door to work internationally. For example, I was able to secure an internship working at a law firm in Manhattan for the summer before starting my training contract where I gained valuable experience and which wouldn’t have come about had I not passed the Bar Exam in the summer prior. For the Bar Exam itself, I would strongly recommend using a bar prep course, such as the one offered by Barbri, rather than trying to go it alone as studying to a strict schedule is essential and there’s a lot to cover."
Watch an hour-long webinar featuring Catriona, Zeno and Adam who all provided the case studies above. They discuss their journeys and motivations for dual qualifying, as well as key advice and information such as:
- costs involved
- the benefits of using preparatory courses such as Barbri
- balancing work and study
- when is the right time to dual qualify in your career
- the process for dual-qualifying in England & Wales, Ireland and New York
Undertaking a requalification exam in any country usually requires significant self-study. Some people will independently study for exams, but others will opt for the structured support of a preparation course which are delivered by a number of providers, including BARBRI.
These courses will generally include a structured study programme of online distance learning and access to mentoring support. Some courses are offered full-time and others are designed for part-time learning, so you can study alongside working. For example, BARBRI has an eight to 10-week full-time preparation course or a six to 10-month part-time preparation course.