International lawyer Naomi Seddon has achieved what few lawyers have: she is qualified to practise in Australia, New Zealand, California - and most recently undertook the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) to gain admission to practise in the UK. Naomi spoke to Insights about her experience through QLTS, her advice to lawyers considering qualifying in another jurisdiction, and how qualifying in multiple jurisdictions has helped her career as an international lawyer.
Gaining a true understanding of global issues
“I have spent the last 10 years assisting companies with their global operations,” said Naomi. “There is an increasing need for lawyers who truly understand cross-border global issues. The best way to gain this understanding is to study local law.”
Studying law in different jurisdictions allows Naomi to explain similarities and differences between countries, and to create consistency across a client’s multi-national business.
“This is ultimately what most international companies want,” said Naomi.
She decided to take the QLTS as she was moving to the UK.
“I decided to take the QLTS because I was moving to the UK and I wanted to be able to work with my UK colleagues in a more collaborative way,” explained Naomi.
Qualification essential to help manage global operations and cross-border expansion
She credits much of her success to her deep understanding of local laws.
“Had I not taken the time to become licensed in a number of jurisdictions, I don’t believe I would have enjoyed the same success assisting global companies to enter new markets or manage their global operations,” said Naomi.
Helping companies expand into new markets consists of the bulk of Naomi’s work.
“I assist with company set up and structuring, engaging contractors, managing remote workforces, ex-pat arrangements, global migration, mergers and acquisitions, cross-border data protection and privacy, global policies, and various other aspects of doing business on an international scale,” she said.
Online study made upskilling easier
Qualifying in another jurisdiction is never easy, particularly as family and work commitments increase.
“Doing study later in life can be tricky; you have more family and professional responsibilities to consider,” said Naomi. “However, once I achieved the qualification it was a lot more rewarding because of the challenges that I faced getting to the end.
“When I sat the California bar exam over a decade ago, I was single, so it was much easier to dedicate twelve months of my life to studying,” said Naomi. “This time around, I am a partner in a law firm and married with twin toddlers. Studying nights and weekends was tough. You have to remind yourself that this is a short time of your life to commit to studying, and the benefit will be worth it.”
“If you don’t 100% commit to the process, it is not worth doing. It is a financial investment but it is also an investment of time,” observed Naomi.
The fact that the course was conducted entirely online helped immensely. However, staying focused is essential.
“Don’t do it unless you are going to find the time and commit to the process,” said Naomi.
“You will have to give up most of your evenings and weekends for a year so it’s important to understand that upfront. Do the work each week, take summarised notes as you go along, and don’t fall behind,” advised Naomi. “Your notes should be good enough to study from; there simply won’t be enough time to go through all the course content in the last few weeks.”
Confidence is key.
“A large component of attaining these qualifications is mental. It’s like a marathon. You need to be in the right headspace to succeed.”