International Lawyer Coach Blog

Study Abroad Opportunities for Law Students

Filed under: Cultural Differences,Foreign Lawyers in US,General,US Lawyers Abroad — Janet Moore, February 18, 2007

Are you a law student interested in an international career?  If so, studying abroad has many advantages including: (1) signaling employers that you are interested in and have exposure to the international arena, and (2) making international contacts.

Unless you have a fabulous clerkship offer, the 1L summer can be an ideal time to study abroad.  Future employers usually don’t look askance at studying abroad  during the 1L summer (in contrast to the 2L summer during which study abroad may signal an inability to get a clerkship).  Spending a semester abroad during the 2L spring or 3L fall are also good options; doing so will give you a more substantial foreign living experience, and, as a more senior law student, you will better appreciate and understand the subjects studied overseas.

How do you choose a program that’s right for you?  If you are drawn to a particular geographic region or legal specialty, you might choose your program accordingly.  For example, if you want to jump in the Chinese bandwagon, choosing a program based in China and focusing on Chinese law seems logical.
You should certainly also research and check the caliber of the professors who have participated recently in the program.  Find out whether foreign professors or merely US professor transplants will be teaching.  It can be enriching to study under foreign professors; they will become future overseas contacts and approach the legal world differently than your US professors.  Foreign professors (and foreign students) can also help you with future international networking.  When examining the faculty at a study abroad program, delve into the professors’ professional backgrounds.  How are they linked to legal specialties or geographic regions that interest you?  Who are the contacts that they might have?

Be sure and consult with recent program graduates and inquire about their experiences. A program with a large enrollment of native students will make your study abroad experience feel more authentic and teach you a lot about foreign legal systems.

Helpful websites include:
http://www.nyls.edu/pages/241.asp
http://www.abanet.org/legaled/studyabroad/abroad.html (with links to summer, semester, and co-operative programs).

Interesting summer programs include:
http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/international/study_abroad/paris_summer/index.cfm
http://www.law.duke.edu/internat/institutes.html
http://www.law.case.edu/summer-institute/

Good luck with your study abroad adventure!

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