The LL.M and J.S.D programmes offered by law colleges in the U.S are quite popular among Indian students. Your choice of law school and programme needs to be ideally based on a few important factors.
The first step in the process of choosing a law school is to decide which area of specialisation interests you. Some of the specialisations offered by U.S law schools are dispute resolution, environmental law, healthcare law, international law, intellectual property law, legal writing and tax law. You need to then check the rankings of the different law schools, which varies with the area of specialisation.
For law programmes in general, the obvious top three institutions are Yale University, Harvard University and Stanford University (source: US News). These are followed by New York University, University of Chicago and Columbia University. You need to then narrow down your choice by location, tuition, school size and test scores. By choosing a highly ranked law school, you can improve your job prospects and starting salary range.
If you are looking at studying law at a U.S university, it is also important that you understand that a different style of teaching is adopted there which varies vastly from how law is taught at colleges in India and in most other countries. While most disciplines are typically taught through a series of lectures, many law schools in the U.S use highly interactive methods of teaching where the faculty picks students at random and questions them about arguments made in the assigned cases, and ask them whether they agree with the argument. A series of questions are then used to expose the logical flaws in the students’ arguments. This style of teaching is aimed at training students in the reasoning methods required to interpret theories, and argue their validity both orally and in writing. This might be new to Indian students who are more accustomed to taking notes during the professors’ lectures.
Subjects covered in the curriculum of a law course typically include constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal law, property, torts, legal research and legal writing.
Indian students applying for the LL.M. and J.S.D programs must hold an undergraduate or graduate law degree (LL.B., LL.M., etc.) from a recognised institution, and have an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score. Some U.S. law school also require you to submit your score on the Law School Admission Test. To take up the bar exam in order to practice law in the country, you need to most often graduate from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association.
Based on your credentials and favourable faculty recommendations, you can obtain a one or two year clerkship with a judge after graduation. This provides you with valuable work experience. Competition in the legal profession is high with only a limited number of top positions available. This means you need to choose a law school that is highly ranked.