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13 Dec 2011

Closer ties with Russian lawyers – new initiatives

Two initiatives this winter will significantly enhance professional relations between lawyers qualified in England and Wales and those qualified as advocates in the Russian Federation:  the new Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) and the Young Lawyers Exchange Scheme which will be launched in February 2012. Both are supported by the British Russian Law Association (BRLA) which last night held a joint seminar with the Law Society on the new QLTS.

The aim of having a single scheme for cross-qualification is to ensure that the public and the solicitors’ profession have confidence in the qualifications, knowledge and skills of all solicitors – no matter how they qualify. Previously, many foreign qualified lawyers were admitted as solicitors based on two years’ relevant experience in their home jurisdictions, without passing any assessments specific to England and Wales. The QLTS scheme regularises the means by which foreign lawyers can qualify in England, and includes many new countries.

At last night’s seminar, presentations were made by Jenny Rawstorne who is responsible for the new scheme at the Solicitors Regulatory Authority; and Helen Swale and Trevor Hellawell (both from BPP) who set out the way in which they expect education and training institutions to present courses for Russian lawyers who propose to cross-qualify. Svetlana London (of MGAP Attorneys at Law) and Tatiana Menshenina (a Russian qualified lawyer and trainee at Simmons & Simmons LLP) shared their experiences of their applications to cross-qualify.

The Young Lawyers Exchange Scheme has been developed by the Ministries of Justice of the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. It aims to create opportunities for promising young lawyers from both jurisdictions to gain a better understanding of each country’s legal systems and professional standards, and raise awareness of how to work effectively with colleagues from other jurisdictions. The programme begins on 13 February 2012 when up to ten young Russian lawyers will come to London for six weeks to participate in introductory training in the English legal system and to complete placements in chambers and law firms. Later in the year, lawyers from England and Wales will be invited to apply for the opportunity to be placed in a Russian law firm for three weeks.

Further information about the scheme is available from The Law Society of England and Wales (international@lawsociety.org.uk) and the Bar Council of England and Wales (IntlEvents@barcouncil.org.uk).

For more information about the BRLA, visit www.thebrla.com.

Robert Brown, partner, Corker Binning, chaired the QLTS seminar. Corker Binning is a law firm specialising in fraud, regulatory litigation and general criminal work of all kinds. Call now on 0207 353 6000.

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