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Author Topic: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?  (Read 3654 times)

mbw

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Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« on: May 06, 2008, 03:17:26 PM »
I'm completely clueless on the subject of practicing law in the US after attending law school in Europe, and so I'm picking the collective brain of LSD on the subject.  The reason is that the firm for which my spouse works, and my soon-to-be employer, is pressuring me to go to law school in Europe, so that we can commit to more than the one year overseas to which we're currently committed, beginning this summer.

Frankly, I really want to go to a US law school in 2009, but want to be better prepared to fight this battle.  I like my future coworkers a lot, and respect their opinions, but most are economists and not lawyers, and all are European, so don't really have a clue as to how the US system works.  I tried the "I can't study federal Indian law in Europe," but was parried with "do international human rights law instead."  Thing is, I'd have a great future working for this firm after I graduate, if I wanted to, so I don't want to burn that bridge unnecessarily.  And don't want to cramp my spouse's wonderful career there.  And my spouse and I have even agreed to look into my coming back for 1L on my own, so he could potentially commit to two years on site.

Arg.  Like I need this pressure right now.  Advice?
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

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ApesAMB

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 05:13:18 PM »
I am by no means an expert, but as far as I know, law school is very different in Europe.  Usually they start "law school" right after high school and go for 5 years.  It isn't something you get an undergrad degree in and then go on to a graduate program.  I think that you have to at least get an LLM to practice in the US with a European law degree, but I have heard that it varies from state to state.  I have met 2 people with law degrees from different countries (not European ones) that are doing all of their law school over in the US because they can't practice in the US with their degrees plus an LLM.

So my recommendation would be to get your degree in the US if you want to practice here.
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mbw

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 05:50:12 PM »
I am by no means an expert, but as far as I know, law school is very different in Europe.  Usually they start "law school" right after high school and go for 5 years.  It isn't something you get an undergrad degree in and then go on to a graduate program.  I think that you have to at least get an LLM to practice in the US with a European law degree, but I have heard that it varies from state to state.  I have met 2 people with law degrees from different countries (not European ones) that are doing all of their law school over in the US because they can't practice in the US with their degrees plus an LLM.

So my recommendation would be to get your degree in the US if you want to practice here.

That's my desire, but I feel I need some ammunition with which to parry their assertions that it would all work out fine.  I could probably do an LLM, but at my age, I will not put off my JD if an European degree doesn't fly here.

Thanks for your input.  I really appreciate it.
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

ApesAMB

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 06:25:15 PM »
I think you have to look into whether a European degree can be used here after you get an LLM.  Maybe if you tell them that it would take longer (5 years for the European law degree vs. 3 years for the American one) they would take it a little better.  If your ultimate goal is to work in the US, it's going to take you 5 years for the European degree plus 1 year for the LLM.  So it's going to take you twice as long to end up in the same place.

You could do quite a bit of work for them while still getting a degree here.  You could spend both your summers there plus at least 1 semester.  I know Washington and Lee changed their curriculium so your entire last year is spent in an internship, so maybe you could do your entire last year there.  (I don't know much about their program and if it can be done abroad, but just another thing to look into).

Is this an American company based in Europe, or is it a European company?
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mbw

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 06:33:51 PM »
European firm.  My spouse is the only US employee (I'll be the second.)
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

mbw

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 06:41:31 PM »
To practice in the US you one of two things: a foreign first law degree and an LLM in American Legal systems for a very few numbers of states that let you sit for the bar with an LLM, or you can do 2 years of the JD in the US on top of your foreign law degree (and then sit for the bar anywhere) but not all law schools offer this option. Either way you’re going to have to go to law school in the US for at least one year if not more.

This was my impression.  However, my future colleague said that after three years at Euro Uni, I could work for a Euro law firm for 1-2 years and then could be admitted into the bar in a number of states.  I expect that I would, as you say, need at least an LLM, and probably a JD, to work in states such as New York, California and Virginia.  Should I call one of the bar of one of these states and ask?
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

mbw

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 07:20:48 PM »
We'll be living in Switzerland, Matthies, Geneva in particular.  Swiss courts operate on civil law, not common law.
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

mbw

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 08:32:00 PM »
thanks, guys.  that's some good cannon fodder.
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

wtracing

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 10:05:26 PM »
I thought about attending LS in Belgium, but figured I might want to live in the states again so I decided not too. However, I do love Europe and slightly envy your position :) I know attending in the UK and working in the US is not terribly difficult. Maybe you can move to Louisiana with your degree though? I dunno.
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moonpie

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Re: Practicing in the US after law school in Europe?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2008, 12:59:33 AM »
I have a friend that did two years at LSE and then finished off her third year at USC in california - their program gives you an LLB from LSE and a JD from USC.