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Old 23.12.2008, 00:58
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Foreign legal qualifications - Recognition in Switzerland


First of all, I would like to say hello to everyone, as I am new to the forum.
I have searched the forum, and have not seen this question yet.
Please let me know, if you think an existing thread already covers this topic. I sincerely apologize if this is the case.

My situation is this:
I have been offered a very interesting opportunity in Bern. My wife and I are of Belgian nationality and we are living in The Netherlands. We are really keen on moving to Switzerland. We are married and we have a little baby girl. If I am to take up this position, it is very important that my wife also has professional opportunities in the broad region (essentially French-speaking Switzerland for her).
Now, my wife has a degree in law (Master), which she obtained in Belgium. Her field of specialization is competition law (anti-trust, mergers and acquisitions, ...). She chose not to qualify as a lawyer until now either in Belgium or The Netherlands (i.e. doing the traineeship, and sitting the bar exam).

While looking on the Swiss recruitment websites, we saw that most employers for a legal position require applicants to be qualified as Swiss lawyers. My wife's diploma is recognized in Switzerland, and as far as our information is correct, she'd have to do a 1-year traineeship and pass the Cantonal bar exam in order to become a qualified Swiss lawyer. However, she's very much interested in working as an in-house counsel in a company.

My questions to the forum would be:
How do Swiss employers look at foreign legal qualifications ?
Does anybody have experience with finding a legal position in Switzerland while having a foreign legal degree ? In particular with applying for a Swiss qualification (through the cantonal bar exam) with a foreign law degree ?
Or, on the other hand, have you been succesful in securing a position as an in-house counsel with a foreign law degree without qualifying as a Swiss lawyer ?

I would really appreciate any helpful feedback, as this is the main blocking element to our decision to move to Switzerland. If this is important: my wife is fluent in English and French.

Thanks in advance for your answers.
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Old 26.09.2012, 00:06
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Re: Foreign legal qualifications - Recognition in Switzerland


I am sorry to reply without any useful information on your part but I have completely the same question and I was wondering if you already got some information.

I am a Belgian Law student (Bachelor and Master from Belgian Law School), Erasmus in Fribourg, LLM. at the University of Virginia Law school.

I want to work as a lawyer in Switzerland next year (september 2013 - ...) and was looking to see if my law degree counts as an equivalent for a swiss law degree. I read in your comment that your wife's Belgian law degree is enough to apply for an internship and afterwards the cantonal bar? Is there no requirement to get a Swiss law degree? Because if not, I suppose applying for a law firm would work without any additional degrees?

Thank you very much,

Kind regards,

Michiel Van Roey
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Old 26.09.2012, 11:56
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Re: Foreign legal qualifications - Recognition in Switzerland

I think he doesn't need any info at this stage, as his post was 4 years ago.

See this thread for some help American Lawyer Living in Zurich and Looking for Advice
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degree, diploma, foreign, law, legal, qualifications

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