Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: emilyellenwilliams on September 25, 2014, 11:40:06 AM

Title: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: emilyellenwilliams on September 25, 2014, 11:40:06 AM
Hi Everyone,

I am wondering if anybody out there knows any American lawyers that have gone to Europe to study law, and how their experiences may have been.

Alternately, does anyone know any American lawyers who hold a JD, but are now working in Europe? These individuals, too, could surely provide some insider knowledge on the job market for new graduates across the pond.

In Europe, lawyers earn an LLB and possibly an LLM, too, and are then eligible to practice. Obviously, in the US, one needs a JD to practice. In some states like New York and California, it is easier to gain reciprocity. From what I understand, however, my state (Florida) is not very friendly at all when it comes to this sort of thing. Has anyone heard of any lawyers holding an LLB and LLM (but no JD) doing legal work in the US -- perhaps on a consultancy basis? Or anyone that knows lawyers on the other side of the pond, and what the job market is like over there? Anyone that can refer any resources that could shed light on these issues?

I have an opportunity to study in Germany. Legal education is free over there. I've been dating my partner who is German for three years now, and have a great network of social, practical, and moral support over there. I've lived in Europe before and would love to go back there again. However, I do not want to commit to studying a law degree that will be virtually meaningless over here, especially if the job market is equally challenging over there.

Advice?

Best,

Emily 
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: barprephero on September 25, 2014, 08:10:44 PM
I see "partner" and assume you mean same sex partner. Doesn't Germany have a HORRIBLE track record when it comes to that? I'd factor that in.
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 26, 2014, 09:54:58 AM
If your goal is to practice in the U.S., then you should go to law school in the U.S. If your goal is to practice in FL specifically, you may want to attend a FL law school.
 
A German law degree will not be sufficient to sit for the bar in most states. They will require you to obtain an LL.M (from an ABA school) first. Even CA and NY don't really have true reciprocity with any European jurisdictions, meaning that even if your degree is acceptable you still have to take the bar exam.

In CA (which is more open to foreign degrees than other states) your foreign degree will be evaluated to determine whether an LL.M is required. Usually, only common law degrees (UK, Ireland, Canada, etc) are exempt from the LL.M requirement. Some other states may not even accept a German degree with an LL.M, and will require a JD. The German civil law system is so different from the U.S. system that the degree is of very limited use in terms of understanding U.S. law.

A German law degree will not prepare you for any U.S. bar exam, so you'd basically be starting from scratch. The pass rate for foreign educated lawyers is very low.

If you plan to stay in Germany after law school or attend law school in the U.S. and then move to Germany, then you need to look into immigration policies. Most EU countries are quite strict on immigration. It's not easy to get a work permit, especially if you are seen as competing for a job that a citizen might desire (like lawyer). Usually, you have to get sponsored by an employer, which means they have to really really want you.

Something else to consider is language. Is your German good enough to get through a university course in law?

I don't know any JDs working in Europe, although I'm sure they exist. I'm not sure if most EU countries would accept a JD as sufficient to practice, with the possible exception of the UK. The systems are very, very different.

Your best bet is to contact individual countries in which you would like to live and ask about their policies. You may be able to gain admission to the local bar, or as you said, work as a consultant. Also contact any states here in the U.S. in which you are interested and ask them about their policies on foreign degrees. The best information is that which you get straight from the source, so go there first.

Good Luck with your decision!

Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 26, 2014, 09:55:54 AM
I see "partner" and assume you mean same sex partner. Doesn't Germany have a HORRIBLE track record when it comes to that? I'd factor that in.

Germany is quite progressive on this issue.
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: emilyellenwilliams on September 26, 2014, 10:19:34 AM
Thanks for your responses.

In terms of same-sex partner, Germany has allowed residency for same-sex partners for 15 years and is very progressive on this. If we were to get married, my girlfriend's German company would even fund part of my relocation. But that's aside from the point, because ideally I would want to be independent in this transition, and would be immigrating based on admission into a law program.

Maintain FL -- thanks for your words of advice. I have done quite a bit of research at this point and am (unfortunately) very confident that I would have to start over with a JD, especially in Florida. The very best that you can do here is find a university that will award you some credits from your past studies and shave a maximum of a year off the JD study time. Thus, my principal concerns are finding working with an LLB/LLM.

I've spoken with the embassies at length and know what it entails officially. It is possible to gain residency after schooling is completed, but as you mention, my greatest concern is how realistic that actually is. Right now, they have a system in place where you have to find work within so many months of graduating, and work earning a minimum of 46,000 euros per year, in order to be able to stay. Of course, I may have gotten married by that point anyway. But you bring up a great point! I need to know really how the legal job outlook is there, and what my chances are that employers will see me as a valuable asset in a congested job market.

Thanks for bringing up some great points.

Emily
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 26, 2014, 12:41:03 PM
Maintain FL -- thanks for your words of advice. I have done quite a bit of research at this point and am (unfortunately) very confident that I would have to start over with a JD, especially in Florida. The very best that you can do here is find a university that will award you some credits from your past studies and shave a maximum of a year off the JD study time. Thus, my principal concerns are finding working with an LLB/LLM.

Is it possible that FL would allow you sit for the bar exam if you obtained an LL.M from a ABA school? Or do they actually require the JD?
 
Either way, it's a couple of years of your life, but I think you can at least complete an ABA LL.M online which would allow you to work during that time and minimize debt.

As far as finding work in the U.S. with a German LL.B, I think it would be tough. Firms that practice international might be interested, but they'll likely want someone who is admitted to the bar as well.

Just think about your long term goals, be realistic in your expectations, and let that guide your decision making.
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: jonathan.atley on December 23, 2014, 12:58:20 PM
Law school in ENGLAND may be the best option for you. The reasons are:
- Takes 2 YEARS if you have a US college degree (in Germany it can take 5-7 years)
- It's FREE (law firms sponsor your tuition and living expenses)
- Your job is GUARANTEED if you sign a training contract before attending law school
- It's common law and much closer to US law than Germany (civil law jurisdiction)
- Many American firms have London offices and many UK firms are known in the US, so any experience you accrue in the UK after law school counts for something

I know people who have studied law in Germany and gone over to the US, but they are rare exceptions (they specialized in international arbitration or the like, which is transferable and not as country specific). If you want to go back to the US, but you want FREE tuition and time in Europe, then England is by far your best bet. That is of course if you can convince your partner to tag along to London. 

For details see website dedicated to the subject: www (dot) freelunchonbiglaw (dot) com.

Good Luck!
Title: Re: Studying Law Abroad
Post by: barprephero on December 23, 2014, 06:44:18 PM
Law school in ENGLAND may be the best option for you. The reasons are:
- Takes 2 YEARS if you have a US college degree (in Germany it can take 5-7 years)
- It's FREE (law firms sponsor your tuition and living expenses)
- Your job is GUARANTEED if you sign a training contract before attending law school
- It's common law and much closer to US law than Germany (civil law jurisdiction)
- Many American firms have London offices and many UK firms are known in the US, so any experience you accrue in the UK after law school counts for something

I know people who have studied law in Germany and gone over to the US, but they are rare exceptions (they specialized in international arbitration or the like, which is transferable and not as country specific). If you want to go back to the US, but you want FREE tuition and time in Europe, then England is by far your best bet. That is of course if you can convince your partner to tag along to London. 

For details see website dedicated to the subject: www (dot) freelunchonbiglaw (dot) com.

Good Luck!
Your post only makes sense if 1. He can find a sponsor and 2. He wants to live there for the rest of his life
Most who go to school abroad want to come home