Upskilling Associates in the Global Legal Market

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An Interview by Claire Flores with BARBRI Sr. Business Development Director Victoria Cromwell

Victoria Cromwell is an English qualified solicitor with over 12 years’ experience in practice at Addleshaw Goddard and Linklaters, and as a professional support lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. After private practice, Victoria taught postgraduate law for Kaplan and BPP, and is a course designer and subject matter expert for the contract law and business law modules of BARBRI Global’s QLTS prep course, and as Director of UK Programmes lead on the development of BARBRI’s SQE courses. Victoria is co-vice chair of the International Bar Association’s Academic and Professional Development Committee and sits on the Education and Training Committee of the Law Society of England & Wales.

Claire: Thank you for speaking with me! I know you had the opportunity to take some business development meetings around North America, can you give us some background about why you went?

Victoria: Yes. Recently, the pathway to qualifying as a Solicitor in England and Wales has become much more straight forward for aspiring lawyers via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam. In some cases, qualified lawyers in certain jurisdictions are even exempt from the second part of the exam. These jurisdictions include New York and Ontario barred lawyers.

With this in mind, we visited several firms and met with several legal professionals around New York City and Toronto to determine the appetite of lawyers to dual-qualify as a professional development tool.

Claire: What did you find when speaking to the New York and Toronto-based legal professionals?

Victoria: There was a particularly high appetite with firms based in New York. The United States has the largest legal market in the world, and New York is at the center of that. So, that was expected and welcoming.

In other markets, we found the interest and appetite from the associates and law students themselves rather than the firms, which was interesting. This tells us that young lawyers and aspiring lawyers have their mind on the globalizing legal world and looking towards how to prepare themselves for that world. Toronto firms with no London or New York presence interestingly saw the dual-qualification as a benefit to attorneys from a CPD perspective.

Claire: What practice areas lend itself best to dual qualification?

Victoria: There are a lot of practice areas, actually. We heard from firms that international arbitration and cross border transaction work would be of particular interest. Also capital markets and financial teams, as well.

Claire: What advice would you give to learning and development teams about offering dual qualification as a professional development option within their firms?

Victoria: The competition for talent is steep. There is a growing appetite for multiple qualifications in the globalizing legal world across firms, companies, and clients. Considering dual-qualification as an upskill and offering for your associates can better provide services to clients and provide unique professional development opportunities for your associates.

To find out more about how to dual qualify as a solicitor in England & Wales, you can book an appointment to speak with one of our team here.

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