If you ever meet a Jersey Advocate you should be impressed. For most, finally qualifying is the culmination of nearly two years hard work requiring attendance at a number of intensive study and revision weekends for each subject.
In order to be able to qualify as a Jersey Advocate you first need to have either qualified as a lawyer in the UK or to have passed appropriate post-graduate courses such as the BVC or LPC, to have practiced in a Jersey firm for two years prior to admission and to have passed seven exams. The reason behind these stringent requirements is that Jersey has been a distinct legal jurisdiction since the early 13th Century, when it separated from the rest of Normandy, which has developed its laws and jurisprudence separately from neighbouring jurisdictions.
In recent years the Institute of Law was founded providing a more structured approach to the process including the production of study guides collating the relevant core material for the syllabus, some of which are in excess of 400 pages. Study weekends are run by a visiting professor in conjunction with an experienced local practitioner and are invaluable for students in helping to clarify some of the more complicated aspects of each subject. The exams test knowledge thoroughly and encompass subjects, which will be very different from a lawyer's day to day work (as a litigator or a fund lawyer, for example).
The seven subjects examined cover a broad range of Jersey's legal system and are as follows:
- Jersey Legal System and Constitutional Law
- Contract (which is derived from Norman and French law)
- Immovable Property (also rooted in Norman and French law)
- An elective option of Trusts Law, Companies Law or Family Law;
- Civil and Criminal Procedure and Legal Professional Ethics
- Testate and Intestate Succession (which developed from Norman law)
- Security Interests and Bankruptcy.
Examiners understand that studying whilst working full time is a challenge in itself and so some students choose to split the exams over two years, sitting four in June of one year and three the following June. The study process is challenging, reading the significant volume of material in the evenings and weekends before each study weekend requires careful planning and dedication. This is not even taking into account the outside influences of friends, family and life in general.
You might ask why put yourself through this process years after having qualified in England?
There are number of good reasons, firstly it is the only way to qualify as a Jersey Advocate, which is important for career progression and professional development and is particularly important for litigators because, generally, only Jersey Advocates may appear before the Island's courts. Secondly the course provides a good grounding in Jersey law, which can often markedly differ from English law. Finally, from the firm's perspective, it is important because our clients expect a firm practicing Jersey law to be well resourced with Jersey qualified lawyers.
Walkers has seen a significant increase in its numbers of Jersey qualified lawyers in recent times to meet our clients' needs and I am sure this trend will continue as our business grows.
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