UK LLB graduate moving to California


cindy13
Hi, I am an English law graduate with an LLB from a top-10 Law School in England, 2.1 (Hons). I am currently doing my Legal Practice Course, and in my mock exams, I scored distinctions in all the papers - fingers crossed, I'll do well in the actual exams). I have a 2-year training contract offer (due to start in August 2010) from a large international business law firm. At the end of the 2-year training contract, I will qualify as a UK solicitor (in 2012). The firm is a full-service corporate firm (real estate, equities, banking, M&A that sort of area).

I know it sounds cliched but I'm engaged to an American citizen (from California) and cannot bear to wait the 2 years of training before marrying/moving to CA. We've decided that we want to settle in CA in the long run. I absolutely love it there. My question is this: will the 2 years of training contract (before I qualify) add any value to my path to qualifying and practising as an attorney in California?

I've done some research and it appears there are two ways for UK law graduates to practice in CA:

1. Complete an additional 1 year of law study at an ABA-approved or California-accredited law school which includes a certain number of credits in bar examination subject matter, then sit and pass the Cali Bar Exam IN OTHER WORDS, AN LLM FOLLOWED BY CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM (source: NCBEX)

OR

2. Be LICENSED to practice law in UK for at least two years then sit the Bar (source: unknown - I found this one on this LLM Guide forum. Is this a valid rule? I can't find it on the CA State Bar website).

From the wording of the second route, it seems I'll have to wait another 2 years after I qualify at my firm before being able to sit the Bar exam without doing an LLM. This means a hefty 4 years from now before being able to practice in the US, which is bonkers considering I've graduated and during my training contract, I'll be working n my UK firm like a first and second year qualified attorney would in a US firm.

Can anyone shed light on this, or offer any advice from previous experience? If I've misunderstood anything, please do correct me. Visa issues are being dealt with separately. My fiance and I have been going out for more than 5 years now and I can't imagine waiting any longer!

Thanks so much guys.
Hi, I am an English law graduate with an LLB from a top-10 Law School in England, 2.1 (Hons). I am currently doing my Legal Practice Course, and in my mock exams, I scored distinctions in all the papers - fingers crossed, I'll do well in the actual exams). I have a 2-year training contract offer (due to start in August 2010) from a large international business law firm. At the end of the 2-year training contract, I will qualify as a UK solicitor (in 2012). The firm is a full-service corporate firm (real estate, equities, banking, M&A that sort of area).

I know it sounds cliched but I'm engaged to an American citizen (from California) and cannot bear to wait the 2 years of training before marrying/moving to CA. We've decided that we want to settle in CA in the long run. I absolutely love it there. My question is this: will the 2 years of training contract (before I qualify) add any value to my path to qualifying and practising as an attorney in California?

I've done some research and it appears there are two ways for UK law graduates to practice in CA:

1. Complete an additional 1 year of law study at an ABA-approved or California-accredited law school which includes a certain number of credits in bar examination subject matter, then sit and pass the Cali Bar Exam IN OTHER WORDS, AN LLM FOLLOWED BY CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM (source: NCBEX)

OR

2. Be LICENSED to practice law in UK for at least two years then sit the Bar (source: unknown - I found this one on this LLM Guide forum. Is this a valid rule? I can't find it on the CA State Bar website).

From the wording of the second route, it seems I'll have to wait another 2 years after I qualify at my firm before being able to sit the Bar exam without doing an LLM. This means a hefty 4 years from now before being able to practice in the US, which is bonkers considering I've graduated and during my training contract, I'll be working n my UK firm like a first and second year qualified attorney would in a US firm.

Can anyone shed light on this, or offer any advice from previous experience? If I've misunderstood anything, please do correct me. Visa issues are being dealt with separately. My fiance and I have been going out for more than 5 years now and I can't imagine waiting any longer!

Thanks so much guys.
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You will find the new Ca. Rules that provide the answer to your second path at: http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Bulletin.pdf

Note that the often overlooked Guidelines are found at http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Guidelines.pdf Importantly, if you decide to undertake a legal study route (normally an LLM such as ours at Thomas Jefferson in San Diego), be it in Ca. or in another state, that law school must grade LLMs and its JDs (the US equivalent of an LLB) exactly the same (or the legal study will not qualify for California).

Thus, read the Rules and Guidelines on the State Bar website above, then contact the law school that you are interested in to ascertain if they meet the Rules & Guidelines, then contact the State Bar to determine your underlying degree eligibility.

Regards Prof. William Byrnes http://williambyrnes.wordpress.com
You will find the new Ca. Rules that provide the answer to your second path at: http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Bulletin.pdf

Note that the often overlooked Guidelines are found at http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Outside-Ed-Guidelines.pdf Importantly, if you decide to undertake a legal study route (normally an LLM such as ours at Thomas Jefferson in San Diego), be it in Ca. or in another state, that law school must grade LLMs and its JDs (the US equivalent of an LLB) exactly the same (or the legal study will not qualify for California).

Thus, read the Rules and Guidelines on the State Bar website above, then contact the law school that you are interested in to ascertain if they meet the Rules & Guidelines, then contact the State Bar to determine your underlying degree eligibility.

Regards Prof. William Byrnes http://williambyrnes.wordpress.com
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cindy13
Thank you William, that's very helpful.
Thank you William, that's very helpful.
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cindy13
Prof the pre-amble in the link you sent me states "The following rules and guidelines are not applicable to attorneys who are admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country in good standing, as such attorneys are able to qualify to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education."

Am I correct in concluding that as soon as I qualify as a UK solicitor after my 2 year training contract (once I qualify, I am "admitted to the active practice of law in [the UK]) I qualify to take the CA Bar Exam?

Do you know what the job prospects are for a UK-qualified corporate solicitor who passed the Bar Exam in the CA legal market though? I hear it's grim even for JD students.
Prof the pre-amble in the link you sent me states "The following rules and guidelines are not applicable to attorneys who are admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country in good standing, as such attorneys are able to qualify to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education."

Am I correct in concluding that as soon as I qualify as a UK solicitor after my 2 year training contract (once I qualify, I am "admitted to the active practice of law in [the UK]) I qualify to take the CA Bar Exam?

Do you know what the job prospects are for a UK-qualified corporate solicitor who passed the Bar Exam in the CA legal market though? I hear it's grim even for JD students.
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Cindy - you are correct that if you are already a licensed attorney in another jurisdiction then you are eligible, pursuant to the Rules and Guidelines applying to Foreign Attorneys (as opposed to foreign degree holders) for the general Ca. Bar. Those Rules and Guidelines are found at the Ca. Bar website where you find the first set I posted above.

In Ca. we actually have two bars though, the second one called the Attorneys Bar is shorter than the general Bar, though some say that it is actually a harder exam (I've heard both ways on that issue so you will need to ask around yourself). The Attorneys Bar eligibility is determined by yet another set of Rules and Guidelines addressing "years in practice" - also available on the Ca Bar website.

The job market is evolving, thus changing. It is not worse for attorneys than for anyone else. However, expectations, and correspondingly preparations, have not evolved in line with the job market.

By example, I actually have more job offers for my students the past year than the previous two years. But these offers are in "compliance" driven areas that most attorneys, much less persons in general, find rather unexciting (like tax in general).

Does this help you scope your search?

Prof. William Byrnes (Walter H. & Dorothy B. Diamond International Tax Program, Thomas Jefferson, San Diego)
Cindy - you are correct that if you are already a licensed attorney in another jurisdiction then you are eligible, pursuant to the Rules and Guidelines applying to Foreign Attorneys (as opposed to foreign degree holders) for the general Ca. Bar. Those Rules and Guidelines are found at the Ca. Bar website where you find the first set I posted above.

In Ca. we actually have two bars though, the second one called the Attorneys Bar is shorter than the general Bar, though some say that it is actually a harder exam (I've heard both ways on that issue so you will need to ask around yourself). The Attorneys Bar eligibility is determined by yet another set of Rules and Guidelines addressing "years in practice" - also available on the Ca Bar website.

The job market is evolving, thus changing. It is not worse for attorneys than for anyone else. However, expectations, and correspondingly preparations, have not evolved in line with the job market.

By example, I actually have more job offers for my students the past year than the previous two years. But these offers are in "compliance" driven areas that most attorneys, much less persons in general, find rather unexciting (like tax in general).

Does this help you scope your search?

Prof. William Byrnes (Walter H. & Dorothy B. Diamond International Tax Program, Thomas Jefferson, San Diego)
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So if you take the General bar does it overlap with the Attorneys Bar. I am thinking about moving to California and i was just wondering.
So if you take the General bar does it overlap with the Attorneys Bar. I am thinking about moving to California and i was just wondering.
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