Before one indulges into seeking admission to practice law within the United
Kingdom the question arises as to practice law as what? Barrister, Solicitor, or Legal Executive? The UK unlike many other jurisdictions has a more flexible approach in allowing suitably and legally qualified staff to practice law. Certainly, within the UK there is no such thing as the ‘Unauthorized
Practice of Law’ (UPL), as there is in the USA.
Within the United Kingdom, even a Paralegal is permitted to practice law, as long as he or she does not violate or break the law (i.e. The Solicitors Act 1974, s20-23), this being as the relevant statue that expressly permits matters affecting property and preparation of certain legal documents, which can only be carried out by a Solicitor (by an Officer of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, and one that is admitted as a Solicitor in accordance with The Solicitors Act 1974, s1-7). There only a few statues within United Kingdom, which expressly make provisions and reserves matters that only a Barrister or Solicitor, can carry out.
With this in mind, the Barristers’ profession and Solicitors’ profession are governed, monitored and regulated by their own respective professional bodies, the ‘Bar Council’ for Barristers (headquarters which are based in London, Cursitor Street: http://www.barcouncil.org.uk) and ‘The Law Society of England and Wales’ (headquarters which are based in London, Chancery Lane: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/) for Solicitors. In addition to this, The Institute of Legal Executives, being the professional body that represents
specialized lawyers (is based in Kempton Manor, Bedford: http://www.ilex.org.uk/).
All these professional bodies have provisions for foreign lawyers or law graduates to be eligible to practice law within the UK. However, with this provision also comes the necessary legal academic requirement of
each professional body. For those who are engaged in international law, this certainly is an opportunity to add prestige to their firm or individual character being qualified within another jurisdiction.
Strange as it may seem, for those who want to qualify as a Solicitor, there is no requirement per se, that you be engaged in the practice of English Law (i.e. if you were applying for admission as an Attorney-at-Law from the USA to the UK). If this does not strike your fancy, the Bar Council also takes the view, that if the potential candidate has sufficient legal education within English law, but yet in another jurisdiction, they can claim exemptions on all five heads of the ‘Aptitude Test’ (AT), which is the qualifying transfer test to become a Barrister in the UK