South African attorney Jean-Paul Rudd has gone back to burning the midnight oil, 14 years after graduating from his legal studies. He spoke to Africa Legal on what’s involved in gaining QLTS dual qualification to practise law in England and Wales through the BARBRI legal exam preparation company.
“The first 30 days were the worst,” recalls Jean-Paul Rudd, a Pretoria-based personal injury attorney and partner at Adams and Adams. “I haven’t studied for nearly 14 years – so getting back into the habit of daily study was tough, especially when you are working full-time and also have a young family.”
Rudd enrolled in January for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) throughBARBRI, which allows successful students to broaden their career options by gaining the right to practise as solicitors in the English and Welsh Courts, without having to serve their articles again.
“I am now studying from around 3am to 6am every day, putting in a full day’s work and then studying further in the evenings and over weekends.
“If there is one piece of advice I can offer to attorneys who are considering this route, it is this: it is far better to study for a few hours daily rather than trying to cram over a month or so.”
“The great thing about BARBRI is that the modules include extensive pre-recorded online lectures that you can listen to in your car or if you have some free time during a court recess.”
Pre-examination learning is entirely online and includes one-to-one mentoring support, all the learning materials as well as lectures and workshops.
Rudd stresses that his decision to embark on the QLTS was very much a “Plan B” fall-back option for him.
“There are four major concerns I have about South Africa’s future: poor governance, wide-scale corruption, the ever-depreciating rand and the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.’
“My wife (who is also an attorney) and I have two kids, aged six and seven. We have to look at what our future might be in 20 years. At this stage, I have no plans to emigrate. I still have hope for the future of the country, but if things regress in those four areas it is wise to have a Plan B.”
“English law is also the preferred law in many contractual disputes regarding multinational companies, which is an added incentive for doing the qualification.”
One of the advantages of the England/Wales QLTS scheme, he says, is that there are no time restrictions after qualification – whereas in Canada, New Zealand or Australia, attorneys were required to do their articles again and also to emigrate to one of these countries within a year or so after gaining dual qualification.
While he acknowledges that dual qualification will be expensive, he is convinced the costs are justified: “The first multiple choice test (MCT) exam is written at a Pearson SA venue while for the second-phase Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) test you have to go to the UK for two weeks – so, all in all, I am budgeting for between R150 000 – R170 000 for the BARBRI course and the QLTS exams, including flights and accommodation.”
“As Jean-Paul says the MCT is taken at a dedicated e-learning centre either in South Africa or Kenya, operated by Pearson Vue. It will be on offer until the whole QLTS is replaced by the SQE in (approx) November 2021. And, on passing the MCT there is no time limit for completion of the OSCE except that this will be replaced in (approx) Nov 2022 by the SQE.”
You can find out more about the QLTS Timeline here
“With the opportunity to dual qualify as a solicitor of England & Wales through the QLTS coming to an end next year, we thoroughly recommend taking this route now,” Dudley says, “It offers a proven path in terms of assessments, pricing and immediate ability to practice as a solicitor on successful passing of the exams. With the SQE replacing this route, it is likely this will introduce additional costs, assessments and practice requirements for applicants.”
Another advantage, Rudd says, is that the BARBRI course can be done over either three or six months.
“If you do the three-month option it means putting in a minimum of 30 hours a week, whereas with the six-month option you should aim for at least 15 hours a week. I try to do between 15 and 20 hours a week and I think that is manageable.”
To read more from BARBRI and the change in the UK qualification process click here
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