More and more students are considering studying law abroad these days. For those that are interested in doing so there are several options. Several UK universities offer law students the option to take a year abroad in your penultimate year. Some also choose to take the whole law degree in another country. This article will explore these options and advise you on things you should bear in mind when choosing to go to law school abroad.
The benefit of choosing to do a year abroad through a UK university is that you still obtain law qualifications recognised in England and Wales. As such you won’t need to be concerned about being allowed to practice in the UK afterwards. You’ll also get the benefit of acquiring international legal experience and study foreign cases. There are, however, some things you should bear in mind before choosing to take this step.
Obtaining international experience will be more relevant for some law students than others. For instance, if your intended career path is regional or national, a year abroad may not be particularly relevant. However, if you intend to go into commercial law, international experience can be very beneficial. Commercial lawyers normally work with large international companies so having been exposed to foreign legal systems can be advantageous.
International criminal law and human rights law also operate overseas. Law students intending to enter these legal areas will therefore benefit from gaining international legal experience. For instance, you might be able to study criminal and human rights cases in that country.
If you do choose to study abroad, you should bear in mind the particular country you are choosing. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is situated in the Hague, Netherlands, so this country might be of particular interest to those intending to enter international criminal law or human rights law.
As the world is becoming smaller and the business market more global, there are benefits to committing to taking your whole degree abroad. The UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the US are all common law countries, meaning their legal systems are characterised by case law. This makes it easier to transfer your degree between these countries. But there are things you need to bear in mind before choosing this path.
First, some countries will only allow you to practice law in the state or territory you took your law degree in. In both Australia and the US it can be difficult to practice law in another area than where you studied due to there being different admitting bodies and requirements in the states within the countries.
For instance, if you take the bar exam in New York or California, you can only practice in those states. As such you need to consider whether you see yourself practising law in the area you intend to study in. However, it is possible to transfer to another state. Every state has different requirements, so you need to look into this before choosing your place of study.
Second, it can be difficult to practice in the UK after studying abroad. The SRA does not recognise most overseas law degrees as a qualifying degree in the UK. However, if you have just finished your law degree in another country and want to return, you can take a law conversion course once returning to the UK.
Going to law school abroad is definitely something to consider now that more employers are looking for international experience and law firms are establishing global offices. Researching and considering the things mentioned above ensures that you don’t end up with a law degree that you’re not able to use.
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