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How clearing SQE can help you move to the UK

You have a licence to practice law in India or any other jurisdiction. And now you want to migrate to the UK as a multi-jurisdictional lawyer. 

That is not unusual. The UK is a preferred destination for skilled immigrants from across the world, thanks to its reputation as a safe, democratic and tolerant country with a multicultural and open-minded society. Plus, most of these immigrants already speak English, which makes it easier to find work and integrate into the mainstream. 

But what is the simplest way for a lawyer to get there? That is one of the questions we will answer at our upcoming free bootcamp on how Indian lawyers can crack the SQE. 

Without resorting to expensive options such as an LL.M or equivalent degree from the UK, which could easily cost you up to INR 50 lakh, here is what we suggest you do:

  1. Write the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) – most of it can be attempted from India without travelling to the UK, except just one phase at the end. Once you clear this exam, you are considered equivalent to any British law graduate and qualified to practice in England and Wales. 
  1. Remember, even non-law graduates can write the SQE. Though it obviously helps if you have some kind of prior legal training 
  1. Start doing remote paralegal work for UK lawyers and law firms. Once you acquire a high-demand skill, and are preparing for the SQE, it is exceptionally easy to get remote freelance work from UK lawyers. 
  1. If you are looking to start remote work for UK lawyers/ law firms/ startups, here are 10 skills that are in demand:
    1. Drafting commercial contracts
    2. Contract management & administration 
    3. VC & PE investment deals, due diligence in startups, documentation & negotiation, banking & finance contracts, term loans and syndicated loans
    4. International taxation, transfer pricing and tax structuring
    5. UK IP Law – patent, trademark, copyright – registration, office action, licensing and infringement monitoring
    6. International business expansion and market entry
    7. Data protection and privacy management 
    8. Tech contracts, governance of emerging tech
    9. Litigation support – legal research, drafting, finding precedence, formatting and vetting documents
    10. Content writing/marketing/ business development for law firms/legal tech companies
  1. As a remote freelancer who does not have qualifications to practice in the UK but can perform paralegal work, you can charge as little as USD 10 per hour and still earn up to USD 2,000 (INR 1.64 lakh) per month, working for 200 hours (8 hours per day, 6 days a week). This is better than what most lawyers earn in India in any case.

If you are already working elsewhere, you can still work for 2-3 hours every day and earn INR 50,000-75,000 per month on the side. 

USD 10 per hour is a rock-bottom rate, since the minimum wage in the UK and most of Europe is more than GBP 10 (USD 12) for unskilled work. In this scenario, hiring a trained paralegal at this rate is highly cost-effective for a UK client.  

  1. Clear your SQE. For the oral assessment of SQE phase 2, you need to be in the UK in person. It is possible to write the bar exam by getting a standard visitor visa. This includes a business visa and a tourist visa. 

You can get this visa if you visit a friend/family/relative, attend a conference, or for a business trip to network with your clients, and then write the bar exam. A standard visitor visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. 

If you already have law firms/ startups in the UK as clients who will give you a letter of invitation, and your financial statements show a healthy influx of money from the UK every month, getting such a visa is not a difficult task.

What next after clearing SQE? 

Once you are SQE-qualified, you can comfortably charge USD 50-100 per hour and earn USD 5,000-10,000 per month (GBP 4,000-8,000), working for 100-200 hours. 

This earning allows you to visit and live in any place in the world as a tourist or on a regular business visa.

You can visit the UK freely, as many times as you want on a standard visitor visa, on business, and stay for up to 6 months to network and meet your clients. 

Visa authorities also want to ensure that you will be able to support yourself financially before granting you a visa. If you have some UK clients who regularly pay you, it helps to get a visa. Remote freelance work is a great deal here.  

Plus, if one of your clients wants to give you a job, or an employer sponsors you, you could also get a work visa.

This is called a Skilled Worker visa (Tier 2 or T2 visa) 

Your minimum salary should be more than GBP 10 per hour or GBP 25,600 per year to be eligible for this. This is very easy for any SQE-qualified lawyer because lawyers in the UK earn upwards of GBP 70,000 per year. 

The good news is that once you are dual qualified and have a track record of performing remote work for foreign clients, you stand out from all the other applicants who are applying for work visas there, including SQE-qualified lawyers. 

You can stay in the UK for 5 years on a work visa, and it can be renewed upon expiry. You can also apply for permanent residency, called indefinite leave to remain, upon expiry. After six years, you will qualify for citizenship. 

There are other kinds of visas, too, which we will discuss in detail at the bootcamp

Why our bootcamp is essential

Please understand that clearing the SQE only gives you a floor to stand on, and does not guarantee success as a lawyer, just as your Indian citizenship and clearing the All India Bar Exam does not guarantee a well-paid job in India. 

For a successful career as a solicitor in the UK, apart from having important high-demand and low-supply skills, you need to build a track record, and conduct a strong outreach.

Can you prepare for the SQE, build a successful profile as a remote freelancer, create a network of clients in the UK, and meet all your logistical requirements on your own?

We thought not. 

That is what we will guide you on, apart from answering all your questions regarding the SQE pattern and syllabus. We will also give you a roadmap on how to maximise your learnings from the nine hours you spend with us across three days. 

For more useful information and links, do also join our Telegram channel.

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