Law School Discussion

Non-American Law Schools

Non-American Law Schools
« on: June 22, 2012, 11:56:17 AM »
When I attended law school for the first time, I went to an American law school.  Now I want to go back to law school and wonder about law schools outside America.  For example, in Europe.  How does the system work in Europe?  Is there a test like the LSAT?

Re: Non-American Law Schools
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2012, 10:50:17 PM »
The European system is very different from the American system. General university entrance exams are required, and in some countries an additional law exam may be required, especially if it's an impacted major. Law degrees in some European countries (U.K., Ireland) are undergraduate degrees (LL.B), and require about four years of university study, a series of state exams and some monitored/mandatory internships (they don't use the word "internship", but I can't remember what it's called). In some continental civil systems, like Germany and the Netherlands, I believe it takes about six years altogether and law students will often pick a track while still in school: civil, criminal, judicial, administrative attorney, etc. Civil law degrees are essentially professional doctorates, much like the J.D. Unlike the U.S., there is little or no crossover between fields. In other words, if you become a prosecutor you will likely remain a prosecutor for the rest of your career.

The U.K. has a distinction between solicitors and barristers, although it's been substantially reduced over the last few decades. Graduates from common law countries (U.K. for example) can take the California bar without an LL.M, but I think that most civil law graduates would be required to at least obtain a U.S. LL.M first. Admissions to European law schools can be very competitive depending on the school, just like the U.S. My guess (and I could be completely wrong) is that it would be pretty difficult to get accepted to most European law faculties as a U.S. student.

Europen universities (especially on the continent) tend to be far more traditional than American schools. Since you already have a B.A., you'd be applying for something like a second, unrelated B.A. which really can't be used in the U.S. (and unless you have joint EU/US citizenship, you will almost certainly have to return after graduation.) You'd probably have a much better chance with U.K./Irish schools than with civil system schools.

Re: Non-American Law Schools
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 08:02:17 AM »
Are the entrance exams like the LSAT?  I'm studying for the LSAT again and this time I have my sights set on a 170 again. 

Re: Non-American Law Schools
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 01:46:45 PM »
I'm not sure what European law school entrance exams consist of, but I'm sure it varies from country to country. Like I said before, in many EU countries a law degree is an LL.B or some other undergraduate degree. Standard university entrance exams are required for admission and resemble the SAT more than the LSAT. Math, history, biology, etc. Whether or not another law-specific test is required varies from country to country. Sometimes a separate exam might be required for law or medicine only if the major is impacted.

Here's the real issue, however: do you want to live in the U.S. after graduation? If so, there really is no point in pursuing a European law degree. Civil law degrees (most of continental Europe) are useless in the U.S. Common law degrees (U.K. and Ireland) may permit you to take some U.S. bar exams, but will not really help you at all when it comes time to get a job.   

The next issue is immigration. It is very difficult to move to Europe, they tend to be far stricter on immigration and employment than the U.S. Even if you were permitted to attend a European university, you would then have to begin the laborious task of seeking a work permit. Without joint US/European citizenship, this is very difficult. Most European countries have small economies and highly protectionist regulations. They really don't want foreign students or lawyers competing with the local talent.