• Aleksandra Nowicka

Studying law... in Bahrain

This week we are looking at studies and career in the Kingdom of Bahrain, one of the states in the Persian Gulf. Details will be introduced by Walaa, a qualified attorney and current GDL student at BPP (remote online studying). Walaa is a legal consultant and translator at the moment, and in the past she worked for such global firms like KPMG or Axa Gulf.

“Hello everyone

My name is Walaa, and I am a Bahraini law graduate and a current part-time GDL student at BPP (online learning). I am also a qualified attorney in the jurisdiction of Bahrain.

Let me tell you how do legal studies and career look like in my home country.

Legal Background at Legal Studies in the Kingdom of Bahrain

In the Kingdom of Bahrain to qualify as an attorney there are mandatory procedures to follow. Law students conduct the majority of legal coursework in Arabic. There is only one English language legal course. Therefore, any student embarking on legal studies must have a good command of written Arabic.

Studies may last from three to four years. The mandatory core subjects are: Sharia Islamic law, civil law (which is derived from Egyptian law), administrative law, constitutional law, criminal law, and commercial law. However, there are also modules such as human rights law, political sciences, and Arabic and English language courses. Moreover, students in the final year are required to submit a thesis on any subject of their choice, and it should be reviewed by a legal committee at the University.

When it comes to the concept of practical training (vacation scheme), students in Bahrain should complete training before graduation, preferably at a law firm or an office, and demonstrate basic legal knowledge of the court’s function. It should be noted that legal training can be conducted in the legal department of any company if the student is supervised as a lawyer.

After graduation law students are called ‘trainee lawyer’. If they wish to qualify under Bahraini jurisdiction, they should complete a two-year training period with the law firm or office recognized by the Ministry of Justice.

My experience as a Bahraini former law student and a practicing lawyer undertaking GDL

In the past, I thought it was demanding to study law in Bahrain but I ultimately found it very manageable once I grasped the concepts of civil law and Sharia Law. In comparison to the amount of reading and case law an English student is obligated to memorize — whether they are choosing to take the LLB or GDL route— civil law students generally focus on statutes. Therefore, there is not much room left for practice.

Foreign lawyer wishing to qualify in Bahrain

Regarding the matter of qualified foreign lawyers or law students from other countries who wish to qualify in Bahrain, lawyers must undertake the Sharia law exam to demonstrate knowledge of Islamic Sharia law, as well as a certificate of good conduct and behaviour to prove they don’t have a criminal history. Nevertheless, only Bahraini citizens can qualify as lawyers, thus foreign qualified lawyers who are not Bahraini nationals can practice law as in-house legal counsels in partnership with a Bahraini lawyer.

Bahraini lawyers wishing to qualify in the United Kingdom or the United States of America

Because civil law is not a recognized law degree, students in Bahrain are required to undertake legal conversion courses such as the Graduate Legal Diploma (GDL) and then the Legal Practice Course (LPC). From my point of view, it is very challenging to embark on a common law degree as it is based on case law rather than statutes. A student should have an excellent command of academic English to manage the readings and grasp the legal concepts for exams.”

I don’t know about you but I have found her story fascinating, and extremely insightful. In case of any questions, you can contact Walaa via her Instagram, LinkedIn, e-mail.

Have a great day


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