Nordic lawyer Christina Tolvas-Vincent has become the first member of the Finnish Bar to pass the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test in the UK.

After four years with Southampton firm Hepherd Winstanley & Pugh, she can now represent clients in court.

The switch was possible following Finland's entry into the European Community at the start of 1994.

“I'm delighted at being a 'first',” she says.

Tolvas-Vincent works in the retail law department of the firm which has pioneered changes to Sunday trading laws throughout Europe.

The firm was involved in the replacement of the Shops Act 1950 with the Sunday Trading Act 1994 in the UK. Tolvas-Vincent and senior partner Tony Askham also work for EuroShop – a European-wide movement for the reform of shopping laws.

Partner Nigel Pugh, head of the European law team, says: “Her ability with languages helps the firm to offer a true European service.

“She is able to give clients an understanding of the way the law works elsewhere in the EU as well as being able to explain the English system to any foreign companies seeking advice about English law.”

Tolvas-Vincent, a former part-time lecturer in business management at the University of Tampere, was exempted from some of the papers in the transfer test.