QUALIFYING IN SPAIN AS AN ENGLISH LAWYER WITH THE “ENGLISH LAW STUDIES (ELS) COURSE” AND YOUR PATHWAY TO ‘GLOBAL LAWYER’ ACCREDITATION
For admission to Level 1 of the English Law Studies (ELS) course for Global Law accreditation, undergraduates must be registered in year 1 or 2 of an AGL approved University Law School in Spain and have a minimum proficiency in English equivalent to CEFR C1(-).
STEPS TO ENROLMENT:
- Request a PRE-ADMISSION APPLICATION FORM from the Association of Global Lawyers (AGL) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Complete and return the form
- Wait to be contacted about an interview and an admission test (if required)
- Contact  659097721 if you need to speak to someone.
FULL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ELS COURSE CAN BE FOUND AT:
FIRST YEAR/LEVEL 1:
- (a) A student who passes ELS Level 1 with 50% or more, but less than 70% obtains:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 1
- the chance to negotiate admission to Level 2 of the ELS course with undertakings to perform any conditions agreed for continuance (admission ‘sub conditione’)
(b) A student who passes ELS Level 1 with 70% or more obtains:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 1
- automatic eligibility for admission to Level 2 of ELS
SECOND YEAR/LEVEL 2
- (a) A student who passes ELS Level 2 with 50% or more, but less than 70%obtains:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 2
- A student admitted to Level 2 ‘sub conditione’ from Level 1 will be eligible for a further conditional pass to Level 3 only in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of AGL
(b) A student who passes ELS Level 2 with 70% or more obtains:
- automatic eligibility for admission to Level 3 of ELS
- eligibility to apply for membership as an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) in the United Kingdom on registering at ELS Level 3
- an invitation at no chargeto join the AGL as a Student Member of the Association of Global Lawyers (Student ‘Glober’) on registering at ELS Level 3
THIRD YEAR/LEVEL 3:
(a) A student who passes ELS Level 3 with 50% or more, but less than 70%obtains:
- a Certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 3
- the chance to negotiate admission to Level 4 of the ELS course with undertakings to perform any conditions agreed for continuance (admission ‘sub conditione’).
- a student admitted to Level 3 ‘sub conditione’ from Level 2 will be eligible for a further conditional pass to Level 4 only in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of AGL
(b) A student who passes ELS Level 3 with 70% or more obtains:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 3
- automatic eligibility for admission to ELS Level 4
- eligibility to apply for membership as an Associate Paralegal of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) on registering at Level 4
FOURTH YEAR/LEVEL 4:
(a) A student who passes ELS Level 4 with 50% or more but less than 70%:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 4
- an AGL ‘Certificate of Attendance’ at ELS Level 4 provided he/she has attended at least 80% of the time. No admission to ELS Level 5
(b) A student who passes ELS Level 4 with 70% or more obtains:
- eligibility to apply for registration with the IoP as a Certified Paralegal and for permission to use the letters ‘M.Inst.Pa’ (Member of the Institute of Paralegals) in correspondence and on visiting cards, etc..
- eligibility as a Certified Paralegal, to apply for registration at Tier 2 or 3 of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) and (depending on level of accumulated work experience and/or Specialist Legal Training (SLT)¹, work placements², year abroad³, etc.) to apply for the grant of a ’Specified Practising Certificate’ to provide legal services to the general public in one or more specified areas of the law that are not ‘Reserved Legal Activities4
- having satisfied AGL of his/her minimum level of proficiency in English (equivalent of CEFR C1+/C2), proficiency in Spanish (equivalent of CEFR C1+/C2), and proficiency in a ‘third language` (equivalent CEFR B1), an invitation to join the AGL as an “Associate Global Lawyer” on registering at ELS Level 5
FIFTH YEAR/LEVEL 5:
(a) A student who passes Level 5 with 50% or more, and less than 70% obtains:
An AGL ‘Certificate of Attendance’ at Level 5 provided that the student has attended at least 80% of the classes.
(b) A student who passes Level 5 with 70% or more obtains:
- a certificate from the AGL accrediting the pass mark at ELS Level 5
- “Approved English Law Adviser” status (A.ELA) from the Institute of Paralegals in the UK
- eligibility to apply for registration with the IoP as a Qualified Paralegal and for permission to use the letters ‘F.Inst.Pa’ (Fellow of the Institute of Paralegals) in correspondence and on visiting cards, etc..
- eligibility to apply for registrationat Tier 4 on the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) in the United Kingdom and (depending on level of accumulated work experience and/or Specialist Legal Training) to apply for a ‘General [full] Practising Certificate’ to provide legal services to the general public in all areas of English Law that are not Reserved Activities.
- subject to the student (i) being admitted to practice in a Continental Civil Law jurisdiction and/ or having sufficient AGL approved experience in legally related work in an international context, (ii) having satisfied AGL having satisfied AGL of his/her high level of proficiency in English (equivalent CEFR C1+/C2, in Spanish (CEFR C1+/C2) and proficiency in a third language (CEFR B2), an Invitation to join the AGL as a “Global Lawyer”
1 Specialist Legal Training (SLT) workshops and seminars are available to ELS studentsin a variety of areas (e.g. advocacy, mediation, conveyancing, will drafting, sports law, disclosure and privilege, cross-border jurisdictional issues etc.) to help develop practice skills beyond those that form part of the structured ELS course. SLT also provides opportunities for the continuing practice development of ELS qualified students (Associate Global Lawyers and Global Lawyers).
² Undergraduate students who receive good grades in the continuing evaluations, may be offered the opportunity to attend holiday work placements in international law firms in Spain or abroad.
³ Course Level 4 may be studied in a year abroad entirely at a University or AGL approved higher education body or organisation situated in the UK or in other Common Law jurisdictions (e.g., Australia, Canada, Hong King, etc.) with which the AGL an established cooperation agreement and subject to availability of places
4Reserved Legal Activities are the exercise of audience and conduct of litigation in UK courts, reserved instrument activities, probate activities, notarial activities and the administration of oaths. They are set out in detail in Section 12 of the Legal Services Act 2007. They include a very limited number of legal activities and will be of no practical interest at all to lawyers who are not planning on concentrating on the conduct of litigation in the domestic courts of England and Wales.
Until more recent times, two independent professional organisations more or less ‘monopolised’ the market in England and Wales for providing services and advice in matters relating to English Law. These were the ‘Barristers’ and ‘Solicitors’. For largely historical reasons, a limited number of legal activities (known as the ‘Reserved Legal Activities’) were for decades ‘reserved’ by law for these two bodies that over time were able to establish strong ‘brands’ and to persuade large sectors of the general public that they were the only legal professionals or lawyers permitted to provide any legal activity. Even nowadays, it is not uncommon to find people who continue to think that the only ‘lawyers’ in the UK are ‘solicitors’ or ‘barristers’ and, it goes without saying that neither are particularly anxious to see their hard-earned brands challenged by others looking to have a slice of the legal services cake.
In these more modern times, the emphasis is on encouraging competition and providing the public with a wider range of opportunities to access justice with more and more emphasis placed on pro-active law to prevent problems arising and alternative dispute resolution processes to reduce the traditional reliance on cumbersome, destructive, and expensive litigation through the courts.
The rise of the ‘Chartered Legal Executive’ and perhaps more importantly, in an international perspective, of the ‘Registered Paralegal’, is evidence of changing needs and the response to the growing demand for expedite, efficient, financially accessible and often specialised legal services in areas of the law where the older UK professional brands have frequently priced themselves out of the market in more than one of these performance areas for all but the larger corporate clients.
It is safe to say that most solicitors in the UK today would not make a living if they were to undertake only Reserved Activities. If they are profitably employed in providing legal services and advice, it will largely be thanks to the ‘unreserved’ activities they undertake and for which they do not need to be ‘solicitors’.
That begs the question of how much of the ‘unreserved’ work they do would come their way were they not able to call themselves ‘solicitors’. The solicitors’ profession has not gone unblemished and its image has been weakening steadily since the mid-90’s. It continues to be the case, nevertheless, that for much of the general public, the term ´’lawyer’ is synonymous with ‘solicitor’ and a perception prevails that who is not a ‘solicitor’ is not a ‘lawyer’. By way of response to the waning reputation of the solicitors brand within the legal profession, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is making an effort to reassure local consumers that lawyers who are authorised to use the title ‘solicitor’ are always going to be more highly qualified and more reliable than those who are not.
The arrival on the scene of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) (scheduled to come into force in 2021) is clearly designed to reinforce the ‘solicitor’ brand by making it more ‘difficult’ to gain the title. Given, however, the exam is geared (necessarily) to accrediting the ability of students to perform UK Reserved Activities and it is therefore less likely provide those who pass it with any wider perspective in terms of foreign language competence or other systems of law practiced world-wide and so to meet the challenges of globalisation.
Of more immediate practical relevance is the fact that as from 2021 it will no longer be possible for a qualified lawyer in a European Union member state to become a solicitor unless they pass the new SQE.
Passing the SQE requires a considerable knowledge of the laws and practice in England and Wales and a duration and intensity of training that can only be realistically achieved by studying law at university level (such as that provided by the ELS Course in Malaga) or by going to the UK for long enough to qualify.
Conversely, it will no longer be possible for English solicitors to operate in Spain unless resident and then only to advise in English Law unless they qualify and reside locally, which will be as difficult as it will be for a European lawyer to practice in the UK.
The effect will be to limit the number and range of the activities of ‘solicitors’ operating in Spain who have in the past been able to tend to the local needs of ex-patriate British and English-speaking clients with some flexibility. As a consequence, there will be growing opportunities for local lawyers with alternative English legal qualifications.