The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) is a great way to seek a foreign, professional qualification, and has become quite popular with Indian lawyers looking to move out of the country.
Priyasha Corrie, an Indian law graduate currently working as a corporate lawyer in the UAE, has not only taken the QLTS but has also set up QLTS Geek, a website and app meant to help those who are looking at taking up the QLTS.
In this interview with Amicus Partners, she talks about the journey behind QLTS Geek, her own experiences with the QLTS, and a whole lot more.
QLTS Geek – how on earth did you find the time for this? Also, when did you start planning the site?
When I was preparing for the QLTS, I longed for a mobile app which would help me with the QLTS subjects. After I cleared the QLTS, I thought to myself – why not make this a reality? But I was in two minds because taking this initiative required commitment and time and I wasn’t sure whether I had it in me to give the project my dedication.
In any event, I started blogging about my experience on LinkedIn. I then started receiving a lot of LinkedIn messages from QLTS candidates asking for advice and I felt that it would be good to follow through with what I had in mind because there isn’t much guidance out there on the QLTS (as against, say the New York or the California Bar Exam).
QLTS Geek’s objective is essentially two-fold. First, I’ve created a mobile app with flashcards on OSCE subjects, which is for the whole ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning experience. Second, I have created a website with a blog and guidance on the QLTS – I hope to create a discussion forum and a way to review prep schools on the website soon. I still don’t know whether this initiative is going to be a success, but when I receive feedback from candidates saying that the blog or my app has helped them, it really makes my day.
Working on a side project outside of work is tedious and I spend my evenings and weekends on QLTS Geek. I don’t party much and so basically don’t have a life! But I’ve always loved challenges and working hard towards a goal. I am a geek myself and so the name ‘QLTS Geek’ is apt, I guess! Perhaps I could call QLTS Geek a ‘labour of love’.
I don’t party much and so basically don’t have a life! But I’ve always loved challenges and working hard towards a goal. I am a geek myself and so the name ‘QLTS Geek’ is apt, I guess! Perhaps I could call QLTS Geek a ‘labour of love’.
How did you go about the “non-law” part of it like website design, the proposed app etc?
I might have been into computers had I not chosen to be a lawyer, and so I still like to keep myself at least a bit technologically savvy. Thanks to Google research, I was able to make the website myself on WordPress. Unfortunately, creating an app is complex and requires one to depend on developers and that’s what I did. I googled developers and engaged one in India to help me out.
It was expensive, but I’ve learned a lot through the process. I look at it as an investment in my learning – an alternative to spending thousands of dollars on an MBA course for theoretical knowledge.
Do you think the QLTS is becoming more popular amongst Indian lawyers? What prompted you to take the QLTS?
An Indian qualification is often not perceived on equal footing with a western qualification and you will realise this once you start practising outside India. This is one of the reasons the QLTS is popular amongst Indian lawyers practising abroad. As such, the idea behind taking the QLTS was to make myself more marketable. And like I said above, I love challenges and taking this one on made sense.
The QLTS may not be that relevant for those lawyers who do not intend to move outside India. But since a large part of Indian law is based on English law and the assessments place a strong emphasis on practical skills, there is a lot to learn and gain in the process.
In addition, there is a significant focus on professional conduct in the QLTS assessments and I appreciated that because I believe ethics are important for a lawyer.
Apart from the obvious advantage of admission to the roll of solicitors, do you think the QLTS provides any other skill sets for international lawyers?
What I loved about the QLTS assessments was that the OSCE focussed on the practical skills of a lawyer — interviewing a client, advocacy, research etc. I don’t think any other bar exam in the world tests these practical skills. I learned a lot of soft skills in the process and have emerged a better lawyer.
I don’t think any other bar exam in the world tests these practical skills. I learned a lot of soft skills in the process and have emerged a better lawyer.
Also, the SRA is very organised and sends regular newsletters for solicitors to be updated about the profession and elicits feedback on the admission process and assessments. It just made me realise how much catching up our Bar Councils in India have to do.
As a starting point, we need to have an online roster for lawyers in India and lawyers from corporate law firms should be represented in the Bar Councils.
In terms of prep time, you do write that to each his own. But looking back, what is the minimum amount of time one should look to devote to QLTS prep?
For the MCT, I would advise about 3-4 months (with the aid of a prep school) for a working lawyer, in order to feel confident taking the assessments. For the OSCE, I would suggest 4-6 months for a working lawyer.
The QLTS is a significant financial investment – are there any ways at all in which an international lawyer could lessen this burden (Do employers offer financial aid, are there any waivers or bursaries of any sort?)
It sure is an expensive process and I paid for all of it myself – that’s where my credit card came to the rescue! Many lawyers are sponsored by their firms, particularly if one is working for an international firm. I’m not sure whether there are any fee waivers though.
What is your view on the Indian legal market, specifically when it comes to smaller, transaction-based firms? Do you see space for more breakaway firms?
The Indian legal market does look like it’s on fire. There are a lot of opportunities and I think firms have risen to the task. Looking forward, I think there will more breakaway firms because the millennials and Gen-Zs will not be able to gel with those having traditional mindsets. Firms evolving and adapting to a flexible approach to work will do well, in my view.
Lastly, any predictions on international law firms (somehow) making it to India?
It is hard to predict international law firms making it into India because the subject does seem politicised. I see no harm in allowing international law firms in India – it would only make the market better and competitive. I also don’t believe that they would eat up the share of local firms. In fact, international law firms will most likely outsource many of the smaller matters to smaller boutique firms or collaborate with local firms.
I see no harm in allowing international law firms in India – it would only make the market better and competitive. I also don’t believe that they would eat up the share of local firms.
I can go on but I will end up digressing. Again, we need corporate lawyers in Bar Councils who would be able to add more dimensions to the discussion. For instance, in the UAE, both international and local firms thrive together and the market is better because of it.
Final question – You have had quite an interesting career so far. A mid-career break, shifting jurisdictions and jobs, acing the QLTS – what keeps you motivated?
Thanks for your kind words, although I don’t think my career has been that interesting! I look at everybody else’s career and fret about mine — I’m still learning the art of not comparing myself with others.
I have a passion for learning and that’s what keeps me going. I don’t believe in the theory of ‘Work hard now, enjoy the rest of your life’. I believe one should always work hard on all spheres of one’s life, and enjoy the process (including seeing the merits of the tough times). There’s a still a lot more I want to do although I think I need to be clearer with my vision and chart out the map to get there.