6 Unusual Places to Earn a Law Degree Abroad

by Mary Ellen Dingley

What's the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer? A bad lawyer makes your case drag on for years. A good lawyer makes it last even longer. HAH!

Jokes aside, getting a law degree is an exciting challenge, which can be even more exciting if you get your law degree abroad! A law degree abroad can set you up for a career in international law, but remember, law degrees don’t always translate over. Each country, and in some places each state or province, will have different rules on practicing law. Many law degrees abroad are bachelor’s degrees, which cannot be used to practice law in countries like the United States. Getting one of these degrees doesn’t mean you can automatically practice law anywhere! So do your research and think hard about where you want to go with your law degree.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia

Once you have a plan in place, be adventurous and look outside some of the “usual” countries for law degree programs. Perhaps think about unusual places to earn a law degree abroad like….

Estonia

Have you ever thought about studying in Estonia? No? Well you should! Estonia was named the best value destination by Lonely Planet in 2016! It’s a tiny, environmentally friendly nation with a huge history.  The old town of Tallinn is a UNESCO world Heritage site. Estonia is also positively overflowing with verdant forests and national parks and ancient castles that will send you right back to the middle ages. It has shaken off the soviet past and is embracing its music and a foodie culture. Also, Skype was invented there (NBD), and it has 1,500 islands, which makes it pretty awesome.

More specifically, you can earn your degree in international law and human rights at the University of Tartu. The program gives students a grounding in both the theoretical and practical side of international law, so that once you are done going to 1,500 different islands, you can go become a lawyer.

Colorful buildings in Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw, Poland

Poland

Poland has a fascinating history, from the mythical battles with dragons to the heroic actions of its citizens in WWII who saved many lives from Hitler’s wrath. You can earn a law degree abroad in one of Poland’s most exciting cities: Krakow, Warsaw, or Wroclaw. These amazing cities have ancient castles, delicious food, vibrant student communities, and architecture that reflects the myriad influences found in Central Europe. Wroclaw also has 130 bridges, which is almost too many Instagram worthy photo shoots waiting to be had. And yes, there are so. many. pierogis. If you get tired of the city life, the Carpathian Mountains aren’t so far away, awaiting with tons of hiking and camping!

Polish law degree programs are specifically set up to help students make a smooth transition, often providing an insular program for the first semester or year and then letting students go it alone. So, if you’re just too overwhelmed by bridges and pierogis, don’t fret, there will be someone there to help you out.

Spain

If you’re a Spanish speaker, the law degree programs in Spain could be for you! You could study Law in Valencia, a city in Northern Spain which has architecture ranging from modernist sci-fi to ancient gothic, a beautiful park created in an old riverbed, and famous paella for you foodies. When you’re not studying you can explore museums, ranging from international modern art to the Flemish fine arts, or check out sharks at the local aquarium. And of course, northern Spain is a gateway to explore other parts of Europe! Come away from studying in Valencia with a solid law grounding, improved Spanish, and a tummy full of delicious paella. What else do you need, really?

Mountains view in Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand on the South Island

New Zealand

New Zealand is known the world over for its gorgeous landscape and plentiful outdoor activities, and also for being the closest thing we have to Middle Earth. International students can get a law degree abroad at the University of Otago, which is located in Dunedin, a city on the South Island that is very proud of its Scottish heritage; Dunedin was where the first permanent settlers to New Zealand arrived from Scotland in 1848. The University of Otago is the oldest university in the country, founded in 1869. Dunedin is a university town, with all the fun and energy that students can bring to it. It has a great museum on the Māori people and early settlers if you’re into history, and of course the beautiful countryside isn’t hard to escape to for the weekend!

Malaysia 

Kuala Lumpur is known for its fusion food, and it’s truly a fusion city, with an emerging digital economy and glass skyscrapers alongside traditional temples, both Hindu and Buddhist. You can revel in art museums, restaurants, shopping and cultural festivals while earning a degree in Kuala Lumpur. But, if you get tired of the city there are also the Cameron Highlands not too far away where you can soak in the verdant green nature. Eat amazing fusion Asian food for a year and a half or more while you get a law degree in Malaysia. Win win!

Colorful homes in Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina

Get a degree in law at one of four amazing universities in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. While it might be hard to study in such a fascinating city, especially with the nightlife that truly never sleeps, the program does provide helpful advisors to help you find the right educational fit and answer questions. When you’re not studying law you can check out a tango performance or the delicious wine and food. Some of the other must do activities in Buenos Aires are wandering through old cemeteries and quiet, old town streets, shopping and sipping coffee, watching some fútbol and bathing in beautiful art. Study law, study tango, study art!

Make sure you dig into reviews for any law degree program abroad, talk to alumni, and think about the degree from every angle. What sort of law do you want to focus on? Outside of the classroom do you want to improve your Spanish, dig into Asian culture, or hike in the mountains? Once you’ve done your research on each and every unusual place to eran a law degree abroad, grab your thinking cap and your passport and get ready to study and explore! The defense rests.