Overseas lawyers seeking to qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales must successfully complete the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS).
The QLTS is the mandatory award required of qualified lawyers from other jurisdictions wishing to qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales. The scheme also applies to barristers in England & Wales who would like to qualify as solicitors, though it should be noted that they must have first completed pupillage before taking the QLTS.
To enrol on the QLTS you must be a qualified, practising lawyer in your home jurisdiction, and this jurisdiction must be recognised by the SRA. You need to have followed the full route to qualification in your home jurisdiction.
The scheme is run by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and was introduced on 1 September 2010. The SRA assesses the character and suitability of all those applying for solicitor status. If you pass this test, it’s then on to the exam itself.
The assessment, structured in two parts, tests applicants for the knowledge and skills which solicitors must possess at the moment of qualification. Applicants must first pass Part One before taking on Part Two of the assessment.
Part One of the assessment is the six-hour, 180-question Multiple Choice Test (MCT) which assesses the candidate’s core knowledge and understanding of the law in England & Wales. The MCT covers 11 areas of the law.
Part Two is called the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). As part of the OSCE, candidates are examined on their client interview, advocacy, research, writing and drafting skills.
More details on the QLTS examination can be found here.
Exemptions may be offered to barristers qualified in England & Wales, lawyers from Scotland and Northern Ireland, and, in certain cases, lawyers from elsewhere in the European Economic Area.
There are no formal English language assessments within the QLTS, though candidates will naturally require excellent English skills in order to pass.
Kaplan is the sole assessor of the QLTS, and as such is not permitted to offer training courses for the scheme. There are several other providers running QLTS training courses, though none are directly authorised by the SRA and such training is therefore unregulated, so do your research.
Note to foreign law students: Foreign law students wishing to become a lawyer in England and Wales are required to take the GDL and then the LPC/BPTC. If you feel that your academic qualifications make you eligible for a partial exemption, you can apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing to bypass the GDL.
For more information on the QLTS, see here.