Law - Specialisms

Advice on law specialisms, including resources on international law and practising law in the USA.

Legal aid / pro bono

Legal Aid Agency - oversees and provide civil and criminal legal aid and advice in England and Wales.

Legal Aid Agency - GOV.UK

Scottish Legal Aid Board - set up to manage legal aid in Scotland. The site has useful information on legal aid as well as a searchable database of legal aid solicitors in Scotland. It advertises job vacancies at the Board, the Public Defence Solicitors' Office (PDSO) and the Civil Legal Assistance Office (CLAO).

Scottish Legal Aid Board

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) - the national umbrella body that provides essential services to Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) - independent, local charities that are members of CAS and provide advice and information to people in need. CAB also offer different volunteer roles.

Citizens Advice Scotland

Volunteering with a Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice - in England and Wales. They provide free, confidential and independent advice on a range of issues, including legal advice, consumer rights and housing issues. Citizens Advice also offer volunteering opportunities.

Citizens Advice

Volunteering with Citizens Advice 

Law Centres Network - encourages the development of publicly funded legal services for those most disadvantaged in society. Law Centres provide a free and independent professional legal service and use volunteers to offer this service. You can search online to find details of local law centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Law Centres Network

LawWorks - is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice. They support and develop pro bono activity across England and Wales.

LawWorks

Advocate - is a national charity that finds free legal assistance from volunteer barristers across England and Wales.

Advocate

Legal Action Group (LAG) - is a national, independent charity, which campaigns for equal access to justice for all members of society.

Legal Action Group (LAG)

Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) - provides training, practical support and information to support the delivery of high quality legal services by legal aid practitioners in England and Wales. Their website includes vacancy listings for roles that support access to justice.

Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG)

International law and international law firms

Law Society of Scotland: International Work - how they represent the Scottish legal profession across the globe.

Law Society of Scotland: International Work

Law Society of England and Wales - provides legal resources for specific countries.

Law Society of England and Wales

Chambers Global Legal Guide - covers all the major jurisdictions throughout the world. In each country, the leading international law firms and leading individuals are ranked in the principal areas of law.

Chambers Global Legal Guide

International Law Association - has branches worldwide and is for those with an interest in international law.

International Law Association

United Nations (UN) - visit the Job Openings section of UN Careers to search internship opportunities and for eligibility details.

UN Careers - Job Openings

World Trade Organization (WTO) - has opportunities for lawyers and law graduates.

Working at the WTO

Europe

The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) – the body of staff responsible for assisting the European Council and the Council of the European Union.

Careers at the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC)

Court of Justice of  the European Union - contains information on opportunities within the court.

Court of Justice of the European Union

European Law Students' Association (ELSA) - is an international, independent, non-political, non-profit-making organisation run by and for students as well as recent graduates. It aims to give members the opportunity to expand their skillset and meet others from different legal systems around Europe. It advertises a limited number of traineeships in Europe.

European Law Students' Association (ELSA)

Europa - is the portal for the European institutions and has information on recruitment and temporary posts in the EU.

Europa

European Parliament - includes information on the work of the parliament and a list of Members of the European Parliament.

European Parliament

Eurobrussels - is a comprehensive site which links to vacancies with the main law firms operating in Brussels and internationally. It also links to vacancies within EU institutions and international organisations. It advertises a range of jobs and internships including opportunities with NGOs and political organisations, think-tanks and consultancies.

Eurobrussels

Practising Law in the USA

When Practising Law in the USA, there is not the same distinction between advocates and solicitors as there is in Scotland:

Solicitor - Scotland

Lawyers typically are referred to as “attorneys” in the USA.   

To practise law in the USA, you must have a qualifying law degree, pass the bar examination and meet the requirements of the particular state in which you intend to practise law. Each state has its own bar; passing the bar in one state does not necessarily mean you can practise law in any other state. National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) provides details of bar requirements of different states:

NCBE – jurisdiction information

Since February 2023, 41 jurisdictions in the USA have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). This exam, designed to test general principles of law instead of state specific material, is coordinated by NCBE. The test offers mobility as scores may be transferred to another jurisdiction that has a lower passing score. The situation is complex as states can select different passing scores and admission to a different state may also be dependent upon completion of a state-specific exam. NCBE provides further information on UBE components:

NCBE – UBE

New York is an attractive prospect for UK solicitors and students.

The Law Society of Scotland has strengthened its links with lawyers in the US by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) [in November 2022]. The new agreement will help to facilitate the exchange of best practice and allow the Law Society and its members to develop networks and contacts with the NYSBA, enhancing the reputation and profile of Scots Law, the Scottish legal profession and the Society internationally. The MOU recognises that a considerable number of members of Law Society of Scotland have been admitted to the State of New York Bar …

New York is one of the jurisdictions to have adopted the two-day UBE. To establish whether completion of a programme of study at a law school outside the USA, is transferable and acceptable, The New York State Board of Law Examiners will carry out an Advance Evaluation of Eligibility. Eligibility is assessed on a case by case basis, but in practice, a four year Scottish LLB has been considered to satisfy requirements. Confirmation of eligibility can be a lengthy process and can take up to one year, so it is advisable to do your research and start the application process early on – find out more details by visiting The New York State Board of Law Examiners website:

Foreign Legal Education - evaluation of eligibility

Besides passing the UBE, you are also required to undertake and complete the following:

  • Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
  • Complete the New York Law Course
  • Pass the New York Law Exam (NYLE)
  • Fulfil 50 hours of pro bono service
  • Satisfy the Skills Competency Requirement if you began your law school studies after 1 August 2016
  • Pass the character and fitness interview

The New York State Board of Law Examiners website provides comprehensive information on both the UBE and additional requirements for admission in New York:

New York State Board of Law Examiners - informational guide for applicants

The Scottish Bar Association of New York (ScotBarNY) aim to connect lawyers and law students of Scottish descent or interest in Scottish culture. They also provide information on law-based careers in New York:

Scottish Bar Association of New York

Considerations for Practising Law in New York

For some tips on sitting the exam as a Scottish university graduate, read this blog post from Adam Ridley, which is published on the Law Society of Scotland website:

Law Society of Scotland - Blog: What is taking the US Bar Exam like?

As foreign trained participants may not have the same skillset and knowledge as those who studied in the USA, it is advisable to undertake a bar preparation course. Factors to consider when selecting a course provider are:

  1. Resources – don’t assume that the course provider uses actual exam questions from the NCBE. Some course providers choose not to pay the required fee to NCBE for past papers and prepare their own questions. You want to become familiar with how the questions are framed and the terminology that the NCBE uses, so ask whether they use the released bar exam questions.
  2.  Cost and length of course - choose the setting which works best for you. Some are offered as in-person classes, others are delivered online. Do your research to evaluate your options according to your needs and budget. 

Potential course providers are:

  • BARBRI

BARBRI - Bar Prep Course

  • KAPLAN

KAPLAN - New York Bar Exam Prep Course