The short answer is yes, you can! There is no LSAT and you don’t need to even take Barbri. Welcome to Saudi Arabia, my home country.
There is a great deal of mystique in Saudi Arabia. In a series of articles, let me help shine some light on various aspects of my home country.
The English-speaking world knows so little about this large geographic territory with a population of over 33 million people. As it relates to the legal profession, there are only 4,620 practicing lawyers as of September of 2017.
But really, how does this work, you may be asking? It’s actually quite straightforward. The idea of practicing law, especially if one had the knowledge of how involved a US-style legal education actually entails may discourage you from pursuing it. Trust me, I know.
I’m currently a LLM student at USC Law School. In Saudi Arabia, in my opinion, because we do not need to obtain an advanced graduate degree in law besides your undergraduate studies, this relieves the stress and debt that accumulate from the high-stakes nature of bar examination.
So, the question is: Can I graduate with a law degree and practice law without having to sit for the bar? Yes. In the United States the answer is no, at least for the most part. In Wisconsin, for example, if you are a local resident and graduate from law school approved by the ABA and satisfied the mandatory legal subject matter required, voila, you too can become a lawyer without taking the bar exam. However, our system is much different than Wisconsin, as you are able to practice law anywhere in the country.
In Saudi Arabia, you do not need to sit for any kind of exam to be licensed. If the following conditions are met, you can start the process of providing the necessary documents to apply for a license.
First, you need either a bachelor’s degree in law (or regulations), a certificate from Sharia college, or a diploma in law studies after receiving a college degree. In some universities, the field of law is referred to as regulations instead since the words in Arabic are interchangeable. Second, you will need to have experience working in a legal field for at least three years if you want to apply with your bachelors, or at least one year if you are applying with your master’s degree in law. To sweeten this even further, the experience requirement mentioned above is waived if you are applying with your doctorate degree in law. Third, which is similar to the US, is meeting the basic standards of good character and conduct, and not incapacitated or internee. Fourth, you must not have been convicted or sentenced for committing an honor or integrity crime. The final requirement is that you must be a resident in Saudi Arabia.
These requirements are applied and practiced throughout the entire country and are not region specific. So yes, you can practice law in Saudi Arabia and never have to take a single bar exam. In our next installation series of short and insightful commentary, will discuss Sharia School. There is so much confusion around this term, so I would like to introduce the western world to this type of educational system. As I indicated above, I’m currently an LLM student at USC in Los Angeles, so I will attempt to contrast this from my experience thus far in the LLM program.