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From Morocco to Manhattan: Charting a Global Career

By Jihane Chraibi, Guest Blogger and French Attorney-in-Training

It’s been a year in the making, but I’ve conquered the New York State Bar Exam. (It sure feels good to put this in print!)

Growing up in Morocco, I can’t honestly say when I first got the urge to blaze a global career path but I do know that Europe and the United States have long been in my sight. I earned my Law LLB at King’s College London and my Corporate Law LLM at University College London—with the aspiration of becoming a global attorney in an international law firm.

Jihane Chraibi

Jihane Chraibi

For now, I’m working in a legal services company in Paris, France.

But passing the U.S. Bar Exam allows me to cast a wider net in terms of career options and also complete the equivalency for the French Bar, should I decide to remain in Paris for some time.

I am thankful for the doors that are open to me as a result of passing the New York Bar Exam, and I am grateful that BARBRI had a hand in my success. I chose to go with the BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme for my bar studies because I heard over and over again about the programme and its classroom lecture and home study options.

What became invaluable to me as I undertook my home studies was the unique one-on-one support I received from a tutor, who I deemed my “personal coach”. This person actually knew where I was in the study process at all times and was able to offer tailored help based on what I was studying.

I ended up reaching out to my coach once every couple of weeks and she really guided me through how to structure my essays and responses for the Multistate Performance Test. She was also there to help me gain confidence in answering Multistate Bar Examination practise questions. Thank goodness for my coach (or saviour) when studying grew tiresome and oh so time-consuming.

Not only did I feel quite supported throughout the entire course, but the BARBRI programme is designed to be very detailed and focused so I felt quite prepared on exam day. BARBRI was an efficient way to study for the bar exam.

My advice to anyone considering sitting a U.S. state bar exam as a foreign-trained attorney is to choose a bar prep provider that offers the services you feel will be most beneficial, such as a personal tutor, and be consistent in your study approach from day to day or week to week.

With the U.S. Bar Exam now a thing of the past, I’m on to pursue a master’s degree in France before committing to a new career opportunity. But as I continue to chart my global legal trail, Manhattan may not be far behind.

How to Think Internationally for a Shrinking Globe

By Rob Dudley, Legal Director, BARBRI International

As an increasing number of lawyers look to take their skills to the international market, so too does this global market look to lawyers to provide legal resources at an ever-greater rate. It’s a win-win for practitioners who want to qualify in multiple jurisdictions. But what’s key to making this a fluid exchange is for lawyers to ensure they have the qualifications that enable them to work outside their home jurisdictions.

A shrinking global market is making it imperative for lawyers to have jurisdictional flexibility. It’s something BARBRI recognised more than 50 years ago in the United States when it was founded to prepare law graduates in the skills and techniques needed for the 50 U.S. state bar exams. Today, BARBRI International specialises in preparing non-U.S. law graduates and lawyers for these exams and delivering training for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) assessment in England and Wales. These programmes provide an efficient and effective way to qualify as either a U.S. attorney or solicitor in England and Wales for those who are foreign-trained, and to be more employable around the world.

The majority of people I now see coming through our doors are globally minded lawyers working with or for international law firms and who need to operate beyond their home jurisdiction. Increasingly this means foreign-trained lawyers are looking to take the New York or California State Bar Exams, or be qualified as solicitors in England and Wales.

Olu Ogunnowo

This brings me to the international journey of Olu Ogunnowo, a London-based attorney who recognised some years ago that he could expand his career opportunities greatly by becoming dual qualified. The Lagos-born lawyer saw that international law firms were increasingly opening or partnering with firms in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa (which has a Roman Dutch system) to represent client interests in both commercial law and civil law. As global business interests reached into Africa, local understanding and good connections became very important.

This meant there was growing need for lawyers with knowledge of the region to take the U.S. bar exam or be registered to practise in England and Wales. Olu’s local insight and qualification would allow him to straddle both systems. Likewise, he knew that as the economies of his native Africa expanded, he would need to be able to operate across legal systems or risk losing business to lawyers who could. Being able to work in the international market would allow him to stand out from his peers, and most major law firms operating in Africa had offices in London or New York as well as cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, or Lagos.

As a U.K.-trained solicitor, Olu decided to qualify to practise in the U.S. He undertook a BARBRI International programme and passed the bar. BARBRI prepared him for the exam which, he said, was tough but he passed without trouble. With his new qualification in hand, Olu was able to move from London to New York to practise with an international law firm for two years before returning to London to go into private practice.

He has been back and forth to the U.S. on occasion—working for a Texas-based client, and says it has been a great way for him to gain more international experience and also be nearer family who live in the U.S. Being registered in multiple jurisdictions has undoubtedly shaped his career and lifestyle.

Olu once told me, “The world is shrinking, which means the legal system is shrinking. Law is a conservative profession that is very slow to change. Lawyers need to understand this and keep ahead by being aware of what is happening in society. Law graduates must be forward-thinking and always reflect on how society is likely to change.”

It’s great advice that, to this day, I still like to pass along to law students.

Inspired To Become U.S. Qualified, South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Inspired to Become U.S. Qualified,
South African Lawyer Achieves Impact

Francisca Pretorius looked abroad to the United States to continue her studies, then applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam and passed it on the first try – with the help of BARBRI.

MY NAME IS FRANCISCA PRETORIUS and my yardstick for success is impact. I am a qualified South African lawyer, having practiced as a senior associate for a corporate law firm in Johannesburg, South Africa, and successfully worked towards passing the Colorado bar exam in July 2016. Being qualified in another country, especially the United States, exponentially increases the positive impact I can make in the world.

I have always wanted to continue my higher education studies in the United States and was accepted to a Master of Business Administration program (Global, Social and Sustainable Enterprise focus) at a university in Colorado. I decided to make my legal skills transferable, as well, and applied to sit for the Colorado bar exam.

Based on its outstanding reputation as the best U.S. bar review course, I chose BARBRI to prepare. Furthermore, BARBRI was the only bar review company to offer the flexibility and convenience of a separate, tailored home study option for international students like me.

THE QUANTITY OF BARBRI BAR REVIEW CONTENT was equally matched by the course’s high quality lectures, homework and practice exams. The substantive law did prove particularly challenging as the foundations of South African law and U.S. law are vastly different – South Africa’s mixed legal system incorporates Roman-Dutch law and the U.S. employs a common-law jurisdiction. Despite this rather significant hurdle, I progressed steadily through the BARBRI personalized study schedule and assignments. Continuous assessments and immeasurable support from BARBRI support attorneys and staff was another big advantage.

By following the BARBRI Bar Review study schedule – knowing it was specifically designed to prepare international students – I passed the Colorado bar exam the first time. Taking and passing a U.S. bar exam was a challenging yet fulfilling experience that would not have been possible without the help of BARBRI.