Foreign Qualified Lawyers – A Valid Solution for Legal Roles in Ireland?

Some of the clients in Ireland that we partner with in Barden‘s Legal recruitment practice might, at times, be hiring for certain roles which, for one reason or another, do not get the desired attention from the domestic candidate market. This is typically due to a combination of a few factors: niche requirements/nature of the role, fixed term contract, lower budget, location/flexibility/hybrid working (or lack thereof), etc.

When advising clients, if we feel that a specific opportunity might not gather enough interest from Irish qualified lawyers, one of the questions that we often raise is: “Would you consider a foreign qualified lawyer, particularly those from other European jurisdictions or which are otherwise fully eligible to work in Ireland?”.

We of course understand that such an option isn’t always appropriate, particularly in roles which are very focused on Irish matters, legislation or regulations. However, there are certainly some positions where the Irish qualification is likely not a strict requirement, namely those which have some sort of international scope or component, and particularly in those which are more commercial in nature. Even in such cases though, we’ll sometimes still see a certain reluctance towards considering foreign qualified lawyers, with the Irish or UK qualification still standing as an almost “informal” requirement or an extremely strong preference.

Addressing Some Concerns

That is very often due to valid concerns. However, as we in Barden are in regular contact with strong lawyers qualified in other jurisdictions who are either already in Ireland or would be keen to relocate and progress their career in the country – many of whom qualified in other European countries, with very specialised experience, working in multinational companies, and with an excellent command of English language on a professional level -, we always try to make sure that we have a thorough understanding of those concerns and are in a position to fully address them, where appropriate. The goal is for us to potentially expand our clients’ candidate base in certain roles and advise them of their options in the market.

Over the years, myself and Kiara Daly have often heard our clients express some of the concerns outlined below (or a combination of a few of them):

  • There is a sense of familiarity with the career path taken by an Irish or UK qualified lawyer, and potentially the companies where they’ve worked, vs. that of a foreign qualified lawyer;
  • Although the role might have an international component, a common law training is still desirable vs. a civil law one;
  • Uncertainty around eligibility to work as a lawyer in Ireland, particularly in relation to the Law Society requirements;
  • Concerns around genuine English language professional fluency or communication skills;
  • Doubts around relocation logistics or likelihood of “cold feet” when things get “real” (e.g. will the candidate panic when they research Ireland’s housing prices?);
  • Questions around how well and/or how long for someone would settle in Ireland (not the nicest of weathers after all…);
  • Fears around the fact that, if someone based abroad is considering opportunities in Ireland, there is a likelihood that they are also looking in several other countries and therefore might have multiple options to choose from around the globe.

These and some other possible concerns are understandable and certainly sometimes applicable to some candidates. There are, however, situations where we can potentially provide additional context into someone’s specific circumstances which might alleviate or mitigate some of the perceived risks.

We are looking forward to continuing to discuss and advise our clients in relation to their requirements and helping to determine whether foreign qualified lawyers might be a solution for certain positions.


Are you looking to build your legal team? Or need help achieving your career ambitions?

If so, get in touch with one of our expert team below:

Bernardo Pina | Partner at Barden & Expert Recruiter in Legal Careers |

Kiara Daly | Partner at Barden & Expert Recruiter in Legal Careers |


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