Here’s some good news for students of law: studying law abroad is a completely realistic possibility, and one that more and more future legal professionals are proceeding to take advantage of. As long as your host university is endorsed as having a legitimate law school, you can study law abroad anywhere in the world that your ambition may take you.
Why Study Law Abroad
While each country’s legal system differs from the next in distinct ways, the increasingly global context of the legal profession makes studying abroad an invaluable experience while working toward your future trade. Deciding to study law abroad will challenge you to learn outside your comfort zone, develop nuanced cross-cultural communication skills, and build a professional network that expands past national borders. The most important question then becomes; where in the world will you take the journey to study law abroad?
Governance and legality are universal practices, meaning that virtually every country in the world will feature the opportunity to study law abroad in one form or another. The content of your education, however, may vary significantly based on where you decide to go.
Among the Western democracies, some of the best law schools in the world are located in England, Australia, the United States, and France. Studying law abroad in any of these countries will give you the opportunity to learn within long-standing governmental systems with a rich tradition in legal studies.
For a much different experience, which can be equally rewarding, you may want to alternatively study law abroad in Eastern Asia, where there is a strong emergence in internationally reputable law schools. China, Japan, and Singapore are all examples of Asian countries that yield huge global influence and boast some of the most prestigious law schools in the international arena.
A major factor to keep in mind when deciding where to study law abroad is the language barrier. While many countries offer specialized English speaking courses, most often domestic universities will utilize their own language as the medium of education. Learning a new language may not always be necessary, just make sure the law school you choose offers courses in a language that you are adept in.
Studying Law Abroad
While pre-law is a popular undergraduate course of study that you can take relevant courses in pretty much anywhere, studying law abroad at the postgraduate level can prove a bit more complex. You will usually have to earn the endorsement of both your home law school and whatever legal oversight committee your country utilizes (such as the ABA) in order to gain approval that credits will transfer back toward your law degree track.
Summer intersession programs are the most popular option among students who want to study law abroad, because they do not require you to miss any time at your home law school. These programs often give you the opportunity to specialize in focused areas, such as international law, comparative law, and corporate law, within a foreign university context.
Semester or year long study abroad programs are also available, but require a greater degree of finesse in budgeting the experience within the timing of your home law degree track. Law schools often have a rigid three year structure that is challenging to take time away from, so discuss what your study abroad options are with your own school. Many law schools have international partnerships with other academic institutions, which can be a great way to study law abroad through an exchange program.
Benefits & Challenges
International Context. No government exists in a vacuum; learning about the legal system of another nation will add tremendous perspective to the study of your own.
Global Networking. Finding a job after law school can be a great source of anxiety for many students. Studying law abroad will give you the chance to expand your base of professional contexts into the international realm.
Cultural Challenge. Living in another country for a while can be challenging enough in itself. Mastering cultural nuances to the level that a legal professional must attain to will provide an entirely new well of growth.