What Happens When You Lock a Heap of Lawyers Together in Quarantine

Lawyers milling around awaiting voluntary imprisonment

Milling around waiting for voluntary imprisonment

Several times a year, lawyers from around the globe huddle in anxious little bunches to sit the QLTS exam in London. The “Qualifed Lawyer Transfer Scheme” (you know you wanna do it) allows lawyers admitted to the bar in foreign jurisdictions to qualify as a solicitor in England (and Wales, but not Scotland). It is divided into two parts: the first is a 6 hour multiple choice exam (MCT), and the second (OSCE), is a 6 day carousel of presentations, meeting thugs (aka clients) and faffing around on Lexis Nexis to prove your research-savvy.

Last week, I was churned through and spat out the second-round OSCE mill and here’s what I remember…

The Quarantine

Not that they were trying to preserve the legal profession from an outbreak of disease – we all know how lawyers would fare (and perhaps reproduce) in an epidemic – but rather, my batch consisted of last-minuters who had to be quarantined in order to protect us from accidentally learning about the exams from the morning batch.

For three days straight (three hours per day), we stared at each other’s faces, shoes, and sandwich lunches. Eventually, we morphed into our natural states. If driving reveals our true personalities, exams are even more piercing of the suited veil.

The Scary Asian (Far East)

Though no real math is involved (apart from a bit of tax law), certain stereotypes still persist. These super well-organized Chinese attorneys had spreadsheets, diagrams, flowcharts, and stacks full of notes in cramped, tiny handwriting (wood famine in the Orient?). The level of preparation was Very Intimidating.

The Bulldozing Asian (Indian subcontinent)

As part of our “tests” we had to interview clients (e.g. grieving widows, thugs who beat up their girlfriends) and present defences in front of judges. It’s a tough spot to be in when you have no clue about the law on (let’s say, restrictive covenants) and you are expected to blather on for 25 minutes, “winning your client’s trust and confidence”. Lawyers in this category reported a rather aggressive tactic – i.e. charging in and juggernauting over any questions the client attempted to ask. 

The Fans of Earplugs

I can’t get earplugs into my ear canals so whenever I see people sporting this look, I can’t help but to stare in admiration for a long while. First, at their focus, and second from jealousy at the size of their ear holes, and the attendant flourescent foam bits I can only ever dream of fitting into.

The American

One can hear and see these from a mile away. They usually look awesome in their suits (a requirement for the first 3 days), but a drastic difference is noticeable at the Research & Writing exams (the last 3 days). Sneakers and loose shirts 3 days running is a favourite uniform. They tend to sound extremely well-prepared and ready for a stint on LA Law. Hanging around them is extremely useful if you are woefully underprepared, thus just vacuum up everything they are saying. However, if you are somewhat prepared but could have done more instead of catching up on Game of Thrones, steer clear if you don’t want to feel overwhelmed and underprepared (as you obviously are!), as they joyfully debate the minutiae of everything, ranging from sentencing limits to inheritance tax percentages.

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