Want to Become a Lawyer in the US or UK? Here’s How IE Can Help


This article is written in conjunction with the IE Law Society.

By Iona Steger 

IE University’s unique comparative law approach is an amazing way to allow students to explore and learn about the vastly different and amazing legal systems around the world. This approach covers such systems as France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The question is, however, how does one become a qualified lawyer in one of these countries? This article will detail the process of becoming a practicing lawyer in either the United Kingdom or the United States by making use of IE’s partnerships with King’s College London and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. 

Want to become a practicing lawyer in the United Kingdom?

Eligibility to study at King’s College London 

King’s College London is ranked as the seventh best university of the UK and based in the heart of London. Third year students pursuing a degree in the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics, Law & Economics (PPLE) are eligible to apply to study at this esteemed institution in their fourth year. Upon completing the fourth year of study, LLB students will receive a dual program Bachelor of Laws from IE University and a Master of Laws from King’s College. 

Why choose King’s College London? 

By choosing to study King’s College you will have the chance to choose from a wide range of modules and nine different pathways. Moreover, the teaching body of staff consists of both academics and legal practitioners and you will be surrounded by students from over 60 countries while there. 

What next? 

In the United Kingdom you do not necessarily have to be admitted to the bar in order to practice law but an LLM is not a direct route to qualification, so here is how you can either become a barrister or a solicitor. It is important to note that the process is the same for international students as it is for UK residents. 

After obtaining your LLB/LLM dual diploma, if you wish to become a barrister in England or Wales you must complete the Bar Professional Training Course (which takes one year) and a year of practical training called pupillage as part of the three stages of becoming a barrister. After having completed all training components you will be eligible to apply for tenancy as a self employed barrister in chambers or go into practice as an employed barrister. 

On the other hand, if you desire to become a solicitor after obtaining your LLB/LLM dual diploma, you must then take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and then complete two years of qualifying legal work experience. These steps must be completed before you can pass the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) character and suitability requirements. Once you’ve fulfilled those requirements, then you may apply for admission to the roll of solicitors. 

Want to become a practicing lawyer in the United States? 

Eligibility to study at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law 

Northwestern Law is ranked number 13 of the best law schools in the United States and is located in Chicago, Illinois. LLB students in their third year will have the opportunity to apply to the school of law to two different tracks. The options are either a two year Juris Doctor (JD) program or the one year LLM. Students choosing the first track will graduate with an LLB and a JD within five years, whilst students choosing the latter track will graduate with an LLB and an LLM within four years. 

Why choose Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

The school of law is renowned for its faculty, which is among the nation’s most interdisciplinary. The department focuses on a team oriented curriculum inspired by an employer-focused strategy which is built within a supportive community. The school fosters a professional environment with a well established preference for students with work experience and demonstrated interpersonal skills. 

What next? 

In many states, you will not qualify to take the bar exam without receiving your JD, therefore if you are interested in practicing law the moment you finish your studies at Northwestern then it is recommended that you take the five year track. Nevertheless, some states, such as California, do not require you to have a JD before you can sit for a bar exam and rather allow you to get a law office study degree instead. Therefore it is important to know the education prerequisites for the bar exam in the specific state you may wish to live and practice law in before choosing your track at Northwestern. Moreover, an LLM is not essential to you being able to practice law in the United States, however, a JD is. An LLM is considered more of a complementary academic pursuit. 

It is also important to note that where you sit for your bar exam determines where you will be able to practice law, so for instance, if you wish to practice law in New York you will need to pass the New York bar exam. Furthermore, different states have different requirements with some being more challenging than others. This might also influence your decision making process. 

Visit the IE University Law School page to learn more about these programs or refer to the sources below to look into your future more!


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.com

IEU Law Society
IEU Law Society
The IEU Law Society brings the legal world closer to our university's student body.

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