Students from all over the world come to the United States to study law. An American law degree can be very beneficial to your career, but can also come with its challenges. Below is a brief description of the study of law in the U.S., along with basic entry requirements.
Studying Law in the U.S.
In many countries, students start their law studies right after high school or secondary school. Most universities in other countries only require a high school diploma or the equivalent in that country to admit students to their law faculties. Studying law in the US is quite different from that international format. First of all, the basic law degree, the Juris Doctor (“JD”), is considered a graduate level professional degree and students enter the program already possessing a college diploma. The J.D. is earned over a three year period.
Many U.S. law schools offer LL.M. and other graduate courses for international law students, as well as American students. Most international law students in the United States will earn an LLM (Master of Laws) degree. LL.M. students generally take classes alongside their J.D. counterparts. Depending on the policies of the school, special LL.M. seminars may also be offered, but may be open to J.D. students as well.
A word about assigned readings. The necessity of reading English quickly and with good comprehension cannot be over-stressed in order to succeed in graduate study in the United States. Typical reading assignments may range between fifteen and sixty pages per class. I have had international friends tell me that the most difficult part of their LL.M. experience was trying to complete all the reading assignments.
Requirements for International Students to Apply to an American Law School
- A Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (4-year university degree) in any subject.
- A good LSAT score. The Law School Admissions Test is a major factor in law school in law school admissions in the US. A good score on this exam is crucial to acceptance to top schools. For international LSAT prep, check out an online LSAT prep course like LSAT Freedom.
- Letters of recommendation. Most schools require 2 letters of recommendations from prior professors or supervisors.
- TOEFL scores if English is not your native language
- Registration for the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) – Nearly all American law schools require that applications be completed through the LSDAS.