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How Studying Law in the U.S. Differs from Other Countries

If you want to know the real difference between studying law courses in USA and other countries, this article is for you.

Andrew Deen

In the US, a law degree is treated as a professional doctorate degree and can only be obtained by a person who has already earned an undergraduate degree in a related subject.

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Some individuals feel that they will get a well-rounded education from studying in a different country. This is true in many ways; in fact, studying abroad can actually boost a person's job prospects in his or her own country. However, a person studying law should be aware that studying law in another country is quite different from studying law in the United States. Following are some important differences of which a law student will want to be aware.

 

Differences in Length of Study Time

 
In the United States, law is a professional doctorate degree. This degree is known as a Juris Doctor and can only be obtained after a person has gotten his or her bachelor's degree. However, in many other countries, law is an undergraduate degree and a person can start studying law after having obtained his or her high school diploma. Once a person has obtained his or her undergraduate degree in law, then that person is able to become a lawyer by passing the country's equivalent of the BAR examination. 
 

Law System Differences

 
A person who is studying law should be aware that there are two law systems in the world. These are the common law system and the civil law system. The common law system is used in the U.K. and its former colonies, including countries such as Australia, India, Pakistan, and the United States. However, many other countries of the world use civil law. Naturally, a university in any given country will teach the type of law that governs the country in question. 
 

The Ability to Work Internationally

 
Many people do not realize that studying law in the United States will not enable them to practice law in other parts of the world. Some countries, such as India, only allow nationals of the country to become lawyers. However, most countries will allow foreign nationals to practice law if these individuals have a LLB (Legum Baccalaureus) degree, which is offered by many universities globally. Unfortunately, United States law schools provide a JD (Juris Doctor) degree, which is not recognized on an international level. Conversely, a person who wants to practice law in the United States would not be able to do so with an LLB degree. 
 

Course Material Differences

 
A number of foreign nationals have noted that passing the BAR exam in another country is more difficult than passing the BAR in the United States. While top notch law schools in the United States churn out tens of thousands of qualified law school graduates every year, it would seem that foreign law schools have a more challenging curriculum than their American counterparts.
 

Other Important Information to Know About Studying Law in the United States

 
A person who is from a country where English is not the national language will need to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in order to gain admittance into a law school or university. An individual will also need to gain admittance to a college or university in order to apply for a student visa. Americans who want to study abroad will likewise need to gain admission to a law school before being able to get a visa. 
 
American law students can gain credits from studying abroad, but only if certain conditions are met. First of all, the overseas university that a person is studying at must be ABA approved. Additionally, the exact study program has to be approved by the ABA. Furthermore, the student must have completed his or her first year of law school prior to studying in a foreign country.
 
A person who wants to study law should generally do so in the country in which he or she intends to work. The big differences in degree type, study programs, and course matter make it difficult for most lawyers to study at a law school abroad and then practice law in their home country, although some lawyers are able to do so after taking additional courses and passing one or more BAR equivalency exams. 
 
Students who wish to strive for a "Law Masters Degree" should take the time to research different programs and be aware of the international differences surrounding this field.
 
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