The long-term implications of Brexit remain purely speculative at this point in time. One thing that has, however, proven to be the case is that Ireland is a very attractive destination for international lawyers looking to relocate to Europe.
But who, exactly, can practice in Ireland? And what is the process involved in joining the roll of solicitors?
Here we will look at who needs to sit the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test, who can apply for a Certificate of Admission, and the other ways of working as a lawyer in Ireland.
Certificate of Admission
Lawyers whose first place of qualification is in Northern Ireland, England or Wales, or have subsequently qualified and have at least three years post qualification experience in Northern Ireland, England or Wales can apply for the Certificate of Admission to admit to the roll of solicitors in Ireland without taking the QLTT.
Certificate of Eligibility
Lawyers whose second or subsequent place of qualification as a solicitor is Northern Ireland, England and Wales and have less than three years post-qualification experience in the region must apply for the Certificate of Eligibility in order to take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test. Other lawyers who are permitted to apply include:
- A person (formerly a barrister) whose first place of qualification as a solicitor is England and Wales (less than three years post-qualification experience as a solicitor in England and Wales).
- A person (formerly a barrister) whose first place of qualification as a solicitor is Northern Ireland (less than three years post-qualification experience as a solicitor in Northern Ireland).
- A person who has been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales.
- A person who has been admitted to the Bar of Northern Ireland.
- A person qualified as an attorney in New York (with one-year PQE).
- A person qualified as an attorney in Pennsylvania (with five-years PQE).
- A person qualified as a solicitor in New Zealand.
- A person qualified as an attorney in California (with one-year PQE).
- A person qualified as a solicitor in New South Wales, Australia.
- A person who has been admitted as a lawyer in an EFTA member state i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland.
- A person who has been admitted as a lawyer in an EU member state.
The reason these particular lawyers are included is that the Law Society of Ireland has a reciprocal agreement with these countries.
The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test (QLTT) is run by the Law Society of Ireland twice a year, usually in June/July and October/November. The test comprises of two parts – a 15-minute oral examination on Professional Conduct, and a written examination consisting of six papers in the following areas;
- Constitutional Law and Criminal Law or Constitutional Law and Company Law (at the option of the candidate)
- The Law of Contract and the Law of Tort
- Land Law and Conveyancing
- Probate and Taxation
- Solicitors Accounts
- European Union Law
Each of these papers may comprise problem or essay type questions or a combination of both, and the pass mark for each is 50%. A copy of the syllabus is available here, and City Colleges run preparatory courses to help with revision.
In certain circumstances, some candidates may receive exemptions for some or all of the QLTT (for example, EU qualified lawyers are automatically exempt from the EU Law Paper). This is done on a case by case basis, and applications must be made to the Education Committee for a fee. This committee sits at various stages throughout the year, and also has final power to decide if a candidate who does not meet any of the standard requirements for a Certificate of Eligibility can be permitted to be granted one.
Although on the face of it qualifying as a foreign lawyer in Ireland may seem like a complicated process, in reality it is relatively straight forward. Confusion does surround the future of the Certificate of Admission post Brexit, and it may be that going forward all non-Irish qualified lawyers will have to sit the QLTT.
In addition to being qualified to practice law in Ireland, it is also necessary to have a visa if you are a citizen of a non-EU country. If you have any queries about visas or requalifying in Ireland, please don’t hesitate to reach out.