The College of Law (CoL) has announced plans to offer the New York Bar Exam to UK students, allowing them to qualify as American lawyers without having to complete a training contract.
Full-time GDL students who go on to complete CoL’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) will be eligible to sit for the New York Bar Exam following an additional 22-week study programme.
Previously UK non-law graduates would first need to qualify as a lawyer in the UK and then complete an LLM degree in the US before being able to sit the New York Bar Exam.
Under the US system lawyers are qualified to practise once they have passed the bar exam.
CoL chief executive Nigel Savage said: “With the increased competition for training contracts and pupillages, students will have the option to take the New York Bar Exam and be a qualified American lawyer. Theoretically, they could go on to work as an American lawyer at a US firm in London.”
The new course will be available to those students who start their GDL with CoL in September 2010 and can be completed in one block or spread over a longer period of time.
Though the programme is principally targeted at domestic students, CoL is hoping to attract graduates from overseas universities, particularly from the US and South East Asia.
Savage said: “This is really putting London at the centre of global education. Attracting the best talent to the UK will be great for London and help sustain it as a legal services and legal education hub.”
Those who successfully complete the extended course will be awarded a US-style CoL Juris Doctor (JD) professional degree in law.
In a related move CoL has also announced a partnership with Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. Northwestern is assisting CoL in designing and ultimately delivering the additional electives that are required to enable students to sit the New York Bar Exam.
Separately, CoL has entered into a similar relationship with IE Law School in Madrid.