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Admission as a solicitor in England and Wales
- The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Regulations

 

Practicing as a Solicitor in England & Wales

New Zealand lawyers who are admitted as a Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand may be eligible to transfer their qualification to become a Solicitor in the United Kingdom.

It is desirable to be admitted as a solicitor in England & Wales if you wish to work here for more than 2 years and/or if you are seeking employment in areas outside of London or in smaller firms.

The process for qualifying as an English solicitor changed significantly in September 2010, so please be aware that advice you may have received from those who have qualified in the past may no longer be accurate.

Anyone planning to sit the QLTS is advised to prepare (and save) for the process well in advance, which may mean applying for the Certificate of Eligibility before leaving New Zealand.

On average, it will take around a year or more to get qualified, which is downtime if you are looking for work as an assistant solicitor in sectors reliant on legal aid (where non-English qualified lawyers are paid at the same rate as a non-qualified paralegal) or in private practice in areas outside London, where firms may be reluctant to take on lawyers who have not yet qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales.

 

Applying under the Transfer Regulations

The Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme Regulations allow New Zealand lawyers who can satisfy certain requirements to be admitted as a solicitor in England & Wales. The are three stages to admission. They are:

1.      Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

2.      Pass the prescribed assessments.

3.      Satisfy the SRA of your character and suitability to practice.

Once the requirements have been met, the lawyer can apply to be admitted as a solicitor of England & Wales.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has an excellent summary of the application procedure here.

 

The Certificate of Eligibility

Before you can apply to sit the QLTS assessments, it is necessary to apply to the SRA for a "Certificate of Eligibility."

To accompany your application the SRA also requires a Certificate of Standing from your home law society (see here), the application to be countersigned by an appropriate person from your current country of residence, and the appropriate fee (currently 200).   A law degree from a New Zealand University satisfies the English language requirement.

While the SRA's target is to issue 95% of certificates within 30 days, it can take considerably longer, and you will not be able to enroll in the QLTS assessments until your certificate has been issued.

The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Assessments

The QLTS assessments consist of three parts: a Multiple Choice Test, an 'Objective Structured Clinical Examination' and a 'Technical Legal Skills Test'.  Details of each can be found here.

There is currently only one provider of the QLTS assessments

 
Admission as a solicitor

Once the QLTS results come through (which can take some time, as they are externally moderated), the final application for admission to the roll can be made. For this, the SRA requires a fresh Certificate of Standing from the NZLS, criminal records checks in both the UK and New Zealand, and a set fee for admission and a practising certificate.

This application also requires the original certificate of eligibility and evidence of success in the QLTS.

 



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