Scots lawyers in New York aim to help students hoping to qualify in the US

Fraser Grier

A majority of Scots law students are unaware that their LLB qualifies them to sit the bar exams in both New York and California, according to a poll by the Scottish Bar Association of New York (ScotBarNY).

The survey of 370 students at Scottish universities offering qualifying law degrees also found that 57 per cent of respondents saw the cost of bar review courses as an impediment to qualification in the US.

The Scottish LLB was viewed by 64 per cent of respondents as equivalent to the US law degree, the Juris Doctor, though a lack of an existing network of potential employers and a lack of opportunity for visa sponsorship were seen as problems by 70 and 77 per cent of students respectively.

Around 65 per cent of respondents also believed that not having a US degree was detrimental to their prospects of securing work experience. Of all the respondents, only five had taken on an internship in the US related to their preferred practice areas.

As regards enrolling in a postgraduate degree in the US, the main perceived impediment was the inability to find scholarships to cover costs (77 per cent of respondents) and that Scottish universities are not recognized by top US law schools (47 per cent).

ScotBarNY is now in the process of developing an FAQ for LLB students addressing these results, as well as a questionnaire to identify potential host companies for internships in New York.

Fraser Grier, ScotBarNY board member, told Scottish Legal News: “Overall, these results are a mixed reflection of how students perceive the international transferability of their Scottish LLB for employment or further education.

“They point to a wide space to be filled in terms of providing students with a pre-existing overseas professional network, knowledge of funding availability and guidance on how use a Scottish LLB to become qualified outside of the United Kingdom.

“The Scottish Bar Association of New York is aiming to step into this space and provide a staging point, and a community, for Scottish law graduates wishing to launch a career in the United States.”