Lawyer-Linguists | 2023 EPSO Exams | Info Webcast

This free webcast recording covers the essentials of EPSO's Notice of Competition for the Lawyer-Linguist exams covering six languages. Find out how to get started - from the application process, to the competition phases to preparation tips and advice on how to get on the coveted reserve list.



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Questions 1
Questions 2



Hello to everyone joining us today to this information webinar on the Lawyer-Linguist EPSO Exams, 2023. 

We are here to cover the new version of these lawyer-linguist exams. You might already be aware that in 2023, EPSO changed the way it selects future EU officials and how it creates the reserve list, based on which you will be recruited and hired. That’s what we’re going to cover extensively during this webinar and I’m going to share with you all the insights I possibly can. 

You might already know something about me as I’ve been dealing with EU careers for quite some time. We’ve been working in this field for over 15 years and that gives me a certain perspective that you can benefit from. We have the tools and resources you need to ensure that you pass the competition. 

Quick caveat: we are not the official source of information, although we do our best to be as accurate as possible. The notice of competition and selection board remain the official source of information. 



Our company has a robust community of people interested in EU careers and many of our clients are EU officials in one way or another; they might be contract or temporary agents or fully-fledged officials who want to jump a grade or pass an internal competition. 

Our question database is an ever-expanding tool of not just abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning tests, but many other things beyond that. 

We do these kinds of information webinars for every upcoming competition. Check out the practice tests on our website and our webinars (lots of them are free). These can help you improve your skills and performance. We are here to help and support you in this journey. Let us know how we can help. 

We also have the EU Test books and the Administrators 2023 edition available. There is also a new edition coming up in probably January 2024 with even more updated content. 

There is also the Facebook group that you can join where you can connect with fellow candidates and share ideas, information and best practices. 

We are increasingly invested in LinkedIn, so that’s another platform where you might want to follow us. 



The new system is not radically different from the old one, but there are certainly changes that have made the process more streamlined and faster. The entire process from application to appearing on the reserve list shouldn’t take more than six months. In EU terms, this is a quick procedure, as opposed to the previous system that could take a year or more. 

Everything starts with the application, followed by the submission of supporting documents. Please note that there are two different deadlines for both steps. The application deadline happens first, while the supporting documents deadline happens a little later. This gives you the chance to collect what you need, get documents translated or certified, depending on the requirements. 

The tests are all automated and remotely proctored. Every EPSO competition going forward will be done remotely and they will also be automated, meaning there won’t be humans on the other side of the screen who are going to check whether you comply with all the technical and legal requirements while taking the exam. A computer will supervise you to make sure there is no one else in the room with you and that no cheating takes place. 

If you happen to be in Brussels and looking for a place where you can take the test, we have a silent and technologically reliable space available that you can use for a small fee.  

Although the new exams have a certain variation of components, they do not vary a great deal. There are a small number of tests that EPSO may pick for any given competition. 

Today we’re looking at the tests required for the lawyer-linguist competition, but if you’d like to apply to a different competition in the future, please note that a different combination of tests may be required. 

The eligibility check only happens later in the process. This is where the selection committee checks the authenticity and relevance of the supporting documents. It usually only happens towards the end of the selection procedure. So, you may pass all steps and tests and yet get the news that your documents were checked and found to not fit the criteria. You are therefore deemed not eligible to be placed on the reserve list. 

If your documents do pass the eligibility tests and you pass the tests, then you will be placed on the reserve list. Being placed on this list means that you are recruitable and can be hired by any EU institution where there is a specific vacancy. 

In this particular competition, that means the European Court of Justice and the lawyer-linguist, linguistic or translation department where lawyers-linguists would be hired. 

However, I have to point out that getting on the reserve list, although necessary, is an insufficient criterion to getting hired. There is no guarantee you will be offered the job. 

Legally speaking, once on the reserve list, you may simply receive a job offer. But equally, you may be required to attend another interview before you are hired. SO, there might be an additional step to navigate before you get a job.  We simply do not know at this point. Our focus is getting you through the selection procedure and on the reserve list. 

However, the lawyer-linguist positions are a little different because it is a very targeted and specific job, unlike other competitions that are far broader and where the number of applicants are higher. For this reason, I do not expect there to be an extra step, once you are on the reserve list. 



Full disclosure: I used to be a lawyer-linguist and I passed a very similar competition many years ago. And I was also on a selection board recruiting other lawyer-linguists. So, I am very happy to share my insights from that time. Although some things have changed, the general approach is still very similar. 

There are different linguistic profiles and each has a certain reference number depending on the language. An important point to emphasize is that the language is decoupled from your passport. The language you choose is not linked to your nationality, as long as you hold a passport from one of the EU 27 countries. For example, as a Hungarian, I could choose English as my language, as long as my English is at a good enough level (especially my written skills). This means it needs to be at a native level. 


The numbers they are looking to fill are not huge. It is quite a niche competition and there are a lot of linguistic requirements. Therefore, the number of applicants will probably be limited. 

If you have the luxury to choose from a number of options because you speak the languages at the required level, then you can play the odds and apply to the profile with more places available e.g. English has 30 places and Portuguese has 25. This may increase your chances. But be sure that you have a real chance of passing the competition because that is your primary objective at this point. 



You will be working in Luxembourg because the job requires you to work as a lawyer-linguist at the European Court of Justice. Legally speaking, there is a chance you could be hired for the Council, the Parliament, or the Commission. Once you are on the reserve list, there is a possibility you could end up at one of these institutions. But this is not the priority of this particular competition.

That raises the question of whether you could, once working at the European Court of Justice, transfer to another job inside the Court of Justice or to the Court of Auditors or any other institution. My insight on that is you would have to be in a job for at least three years before you could apply for a transfer while keeping your grade and salary intact.

What will you do?

A lawyer-linguist does varied work. You will do translation work, translating judgements, for example, from the Court of Justice, General Court, opinions of the Advocates General, written pleadings of parties etc. You’ll be translating legal documents in the context of the European judicial system from the source language into your language 1. This means that your language knowledge here must be almost impeccable. That’s the target language into which you’ll be required to translate texts. 

But it’s not only translation work that you’ll be doing. Sometimes it will be reviewing translations, proofreading or providing some legal analysis if it is based on your knowledge of certain legal systems. This could be the EU legal system as well as a particular national legal system (not necessarily linked to a given language) that you may have expertise in. 

The core of the job is to translate, review and proofread legal texts and ensure that you are completely accurate with the terminology and style, and that you can turn the source language into a fully accurate text in the target language.



I’ll pause here to take some questions from the chat box.

Q: Do they need to follow the ranking of the reserve list?
A: This question supposes that there is a ranking in the reserve list, but typically there is no longer any ranking. 
I say that with some degree of caution because perhaps for larger competitions, for example the upcoming AD5 Administrator level on the 9th of November, there might be a ranking of the reserve list. But for competitions such as this one, with a relatively limited number on the reserve list, they do not do a ranking. It will be one unified reserve list for any given profile and anyone who wants to hire from that reserve list will have access to the database to look at the different backgrounds, information you supplied and supporting documents etc and make their pick. 

Q: Those who are not picked from the reserve list, will those candidates remaining on the list be considered by other institutions?
A: Legally speaking, any of those individuals could be considered by other institutions because they passed a competition. But in practice, the court may not want other institutions to hire from that reserve list, even if they themselves have not hired everyone. That’s because of fluctuations in staff; there may be a need to hire in six months’ time. So it is not necessarily in their interests to open up that list to other institutions. 

But it is possible. If you don’t get hired for some months, you may want to ask around at other institutions. It can, however, be tricky for other institutions to hire you from another reserve list. They may take a ‘hands-off’ attitude. If you’re ever in that situation, please reach out to us and we might be able to offer some advice. 

Q: Regarding the supporting documents. When there’s a requirement of work experience, should you provide evidence up to just the minimum requirement?
A: I won’t go into too much detail on this one because there is no work experience required here, except in one special scenario depending on your diploma. It’s very interesting that there is no work experience required, despite the fact that it is an AD7 competition–we’ll look into that in a moment. 




There are three general requirements and this is usually true for every EPSO competition. 

You should:

  • have EU citizenship.
  • have fulfilled any required military service (or have received an exemption).
  • meet the character requirements (i.e., not have a criminal record).

The third requirement here relates to receiving a security clearance. You may have to work with highly confidential documents and cases, so confidentiality for these roles will be even more crucial than for other standard EU roles. For example, if you are working on a competition case worth billions of euros, you cannot have anything in your past that puts that in jeopardy.

It’s a broad requirement that will only be checked at the moment of recruitment and not during the selection process.  


You need to know at least three EU languages. The level you need to have in these languages does differ. In practice this might mean that you need to have procured two foreign languages, if your native language is one of the EU official languages. 

It definitely helps if you have more than three languages, so mention that in your application. It may aid you in getting hired. But it does not add to  your score in the selection procedure. 

Language 1  

C3 or native-level knowledge in one of the following  languages of the competition (Spanish, Lithuanian, Dutch, Portuguese, Slovak or English). It does not need to correlate with your citizenship.

Language 2

Must be French: a minimum of C1 level, at least at reading level. The reason for this being that the official language of the court is French. In most cases it is the source language from which you will need to translate into your language 1 ( judgements, rulings, advocate general’s opinion, etc).

Language 3 

At least C1 level knowledge of any of the other official EU languages (except French and your language 1 choice)


UPDATE: From now on official legal qualifications from Maltese and UK universities will be accepted. Because of this new development the application deadline has been extended.

A degree in law as specified for each language profile. If you attained that outside of the EU, then you will need to provide an equivalence, probably. 

Work experience is NOT required which is interesting considering this is an AD7 level role. 
The rule of thumb usually is that each grade, starting from the entry level AD5, requires three years of work experience; AD6 would usually require 3 years of work experience, while AD7 would require 6 years of work experience. Usually. 

But this is a notable exception and an amazing opportunity to start at a relatively high administrative grade, and by extension a high salary, despite not having any work experience.

However, work experience IS required if you only have a three-year degree (a bachelor’s degree). Then at least one year of work experience is required. But if you did a full master’s level course in law, then no work experience is required. 

As a side note, it is not always easy to hire lawyer-linguists for a specific language profile. Therefore, going in at a higher grade than what other opportunities can offer is an incentive for candidates to apply.

If professional experience is required, the areas that are considered relevant are: legal translation, as well as legal experience working as a lawyer, either in a self-employed situation or within a company or institution. 

I’ll take this question quickly...

Q: Do we need to provide a certificate regarding our language level?
A: No. The exam itself is where you prove your language level. It will not be proven through certification for this competition. 



There are a lot of advantages. Aside from working with legal texts and learning a lot about EU law and how court judgements are formulated, presented and the substance of these judgements, there are great benefits including health insurance, European schools (if you have children) and of course attractive salaries. 

Not only is it an EU job, it is at an AD7 level which gives you a quite attractive salary, no matter where you are coming from in Europe. We have done a rough salary calculation via the salary calculator on our website (which you are free to try out). You can configure it based on your personal situation. In the particular example we tried out, the net monthly salary came out at 8,600 euro. By all measures, that is a good salary. 



Let's look at the very specific competition phases, what they entail, and what the exams are that you are required to pass.


There is nothing particularly surprising in the phases of this competition. One thing I would point out, however, is the language in which you fill out the application on EPSO’s website. It is preferred that you do this in your language 1. You should do that for practical reasons because those who will look at your profile beyond the reserved list recruitment stage will be from that linguistic unit. 

Application deadline is October 17th, 2023at 12:00 noon / Luxembourg time.

  • Do not leave your application until the last moment. 

NEW APPLICATION DUE DATE for all language profiles: Submit your application through the EPSO website by 24 October 2023 at 12:00 noon / Luxembourg time. 


There is a computer-based part in language 1. That is when you have the classic abstract, verbal, and numerical reasoning tests. Then you have the translation test in languages 1, 2, and 3. 

You do two translation tests and the abstract, verbal, and numerical tests on the same day. It is remotely proctored. Be sure you have a computer where you have administrative rights. This might be an issue if you have a company computer because you may not be able to install the software required to sit the tests. All that technical information will be communicated to you well before the test.


They are conducted in language 1. We have a lot of information for your use regarding these tests: ebooks, webinars, methodology articles, and other resources on our website; some are free and some are available for a fee. We also have trainers and individual coaching and group sessions, so if you feel you need to improve in this area then please do get in touch so we can point you in the right direction. 

The verbal reasoning test comprises 20 questions in 35 minutes. Generally, that tends to be the easiest of the tests, especially if you are good with words. 

Challenges usually arise with the numerical reasoning test which requires calculating and estimating. This is especially tricky in a time-pressured environment. 

The abstract reasoning test tends to be the most difficult for most people as it is 10 questions in 10 minutes. 


These are elimination tests that are pass or fail; the mark you achieve does not count towards your final score. There is no ranking and no cut-off point for the top X percent of candidates. The marks are, however, calculated overall. So you need to achieve an overall mark of 20 out of a possible 40 for all three tests. 

This means that if you get a perfect or great score on verbal reasoning and completely fail numerical and abstract reasoning, you can still pass as long as you get 20 points. Obviously, this is a risky strategy and you want to make sure you don’t fail any of the tests. However, the threshold is relatively low compared with other competitions. 


Only those candidates who pass the CBT tests (and achieve a mark of at least 20 out of 40) will have their translation test scored. But it is important to note that you still have to sit these tests as you will not immediately know on the day whether you passed the CBT tests or not. At least this is the case right now, because the system is still being fine-tuned as we speak. 

There are two translations that you are required to do without any kind of dictionary (hard-copy or digital). It’s a translation test where you will be given a legal text in language 2 (in French) and you have to translate that into your language 1. And then there is a second test with a legal text that is in language 3 and you need to translate that into language 1. 

To share my personal experience: Back in the day, I had to translate from French into Hungarian, and then Spanish into Hungarian. The target language is always language 1. 

The scoring is done on a scale of 0 to 80. The passmark is 40. Only those who have a pass mark will have their Language 2 test scored. 

The overall score is calculated out of 160 and there is a ranking done on the basis of your translation results. 

What are the criteria that they consider? There is a structured system in place by which they come up with a score in an unbiased way. As a side note, the scoring is done by two people who independently score your application. You receive the average of the points they have given you. If you want to challenge the scoring, that is quite difficult to do and you will probably be unsuccessful. This is why they have this scoring structure in place. 

We’ve created a sample scoring grid (legal disclaimer and caveats inserted here! This is not an official version that is used!) which is on our website so please take a look at that. It is in a grid format and gives you an idea of the criteria the assessors or selection board use to be able to give you a score. For example: accuracy, formatting, presentation, how much you understood the actual text and how much you could bring that to life, the linguistic sophistication, etc. That gives you an idea of what they are looking for and will help you practice.


Once a shortlist is established of candidates who have passed the computer-based tests and have obtained sufficient scores on the translation part, eligibility checks take place. This is done with the understanding that some candidates will be disqualified at that point because their documents or background do not meet the requirements.  


After the eligibility tests, a ranking is done with the remaining candidates and then the reserve list is compiled. Earlier one of you asked about the ranking on the reserve list. But the ranking happens before this. Whoever is above that cutoff score will make it onto the reserve list, where there is no ranking. There may turn out to be a different approach under this new system, but based on our experience, they probably won’t do that. From your perspective, it doesn’t have such a great impact in any case. As long as you are on the reserve list, you are eligible to be hired. 

At that point, you can do some lobbying on your own behalf if you know some heads of units in the relevant linguistic area. 

Before you are hired, you may be required to do one more interview. But given the nature of this particular competition and the relatively low number of successful candidates, they might not need you to do anything additionally.



I’ll pause here to take questions.

Q: What are the chances for a certain language that the required people on the reserve list is not reached after the selection process?
A: Given the relatively low number of places on this particular competition, I would think those can be reached. But who knows? Perhaps for the Lithuanian profile there won’t be as many eligible candidates who pass all these stages. It’s more of a practical concern for that linguistic unit, it doesn’t impact the overall process. Perhaps that means they will hire everyone from the reserve list, or take some temporary agents to fill in certain vacancies. 

Q: As someone who passed the lawyer-linguist competition, how would you recommend preparing for the translation test in a couple of months?
A: My story may bring some lessons. A couple of months before sitting this competition back then, I landed a part-time job working for a translation office where I did legal translations for extra money. That was actually the best preparation for this competition because I was doing legal translations in the same way I needed to do for the competition. Find a translation bureau and offer your services, perhaps for a fee below market prices because you have the secondary goal of improving your translation and linguistic abilities. Or just do translations and have it cross-checked with friends or try ChatGPT. You need practice. Don’t just learn the terms. Translation is also about your ability to formulate sentences and convert text into the target language in a way that doesn’t feel like a translation to the reader. That’s the number one goal. 




What is our general advice? Practice! Practice the CBT tests, translations, and have a good understanding of what is expected of you and how that is evaluated. Whether that is one hour a day or three hours twice a week, that is up to you. But take it seriously because it is a competition and certainly there are many other candidates across Europe who are going to apply. 

Learn methodology, especially for the CBT (the computer-based tests) because you can be much more efficient and accurate if you know what it is you need to pay attention to. Very soon we are releasing explanation videos for numerical and abstract reasoning. It will walk you through step-by-step how you can come to a solution for a given test; it’s not just a short explanation of what the correct answer is. So, it can help candidates understand the methodology. 

This is a bit like preparing for a sports competition. You want to plan ahead and have a timeline and structured, process-driven preparation in place. And do the simulations! We’re proud to say that we have practice tests in all 24 languages for verbal reasoning. As for the webinars, some are free and some have a fee attached. We also have many other resources available like articles and books, so take a look at the links below and our website. 

Use our resources, the practice tests, and the webinars (lots of them are free). We are here to help and support you in this journey. Let us know how we can help. 

We also have the EU Test books and the Administrators 2023 edition available. There is also a new edition coming up in probably January 2024 with even more updated content. 

There is also the Facebook group that you can join where you can connect with fellow candidates and share ideas, information, and best practices. 




A final question from the chat box.

Q: Do you have best practice when there is one word or abbreviation that you cannot translate? Is it better to guess?
A: If it’s in the source language, then you have to translate that. You’re probably better off with a guess. Just to mention again, when I was doing my test, there was an expression that I remember to this day: interlocutory injunction. I’m not sure I could even explain it succinctly today! And when I spoke to other candidates after the exam, most of them had no clue what it actually meant, least of all in Hungarian. But we tried to translate it based on the context and what it likely means. The same goes for abbreviations. You’d want to put something there rather than just using the original version. 


If you have any other questions, then please do reach out to us. We’re here to help you successfully navigate this process.


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