Some of the very best law schools in the world are located in the USA. This is most likely why students worldwide show interest in studying or practicing law in the United States. This is not a surprise because whether you choose to practice in the US or not, you stand a higher chance of getting employment opportunities in your own country after you obtain a law degree from the United States. Some Law Schools in the USA even take pride in training smart students from various parts of the world.
But studying law in the US differs greatly from other countries. A high school diploma is all that is required to gain admission to study law in some foreign countries. However, the United States regards law as a professional field equal to graduate degrees in other countries. It is habitual for international students to show interest in law degrees at the graduate level like LLM or JD.
You will need to meet the following requirements to apply to any Law school in the USA.
A student’s visa
There are numerous visa options, and it can be a complex area to negotiate. In most cases, you will need a J2 visa, but it is always worthwhile to seek assistance from a student visa specialist to ensure you obtain the visa that is appropriate for your circumstances.
A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
Law schools in America do not regard some international degrees as being good enough. One of the most important first steps to take is to make inquiries about the validity of your degree. You need to be sure that your undergraduate degree is acceptable at your potential law school.
TOEFL score for native non-English speakers
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was created to measure candidates’ ability to write, read, and speak English. Schools require the test result to be sure that you have a good mastery of the English Language.
LSAT is an acronym for Law School Admission Test. It measures the skill necessary to practice law successfully. Hence, all applicants must take it. The test is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The council is responsible for processing an applicant’s information and sending it to the chosen law school.
Credential Assembly Service registration
LSAC also provides Credential Assembly Service (CAS). The service summarises and interprets the transcript of an applicant and comes up with a report. The report has to be submitted to the law school as part of the application process.
Law school financial documents
International students will still need to sort out financial aids, accommodation, and other related complications just like the domestic students. A lot of law schools admit a few international students yearly. This also contributes to the already tough admission process.
As a foreign student, you have to show exceptional abilities through excellent test scores and non-academic activities. It can be difficult to get the approval of transfer grades without a good SAT score. Apart from this, a foreign student must have a high TOEFL exam score. This is important to prove that you understand and communicate in English.
When it comes to selecting a law school, you will need to do a lot of research to find out if the school is suitable for you. Consider the school’s ranking and its financial implication. And most importantly do not forget to check to see if you meet up the requirements of your chosen school. A tour around the school, if possible, could be of help too if you are in the country already.
Passing a bar exam is necessary to test how qualified you are to practice law. A foreign student with a law degree or a part of it from other countries would not be qualified to write the state bar exam in most American states. Currently, only Alabama, California, New York, New Hampshire, and Virginia permit foreign law degrees.
That these states permit international students to practice law does not make the process any easier. A major challenge is that each state has distinct criteria for students’ admission into its state’s bar. Nevertheless, there is a major criterion that crosses across most states; the possession of a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. You will spend three to four years in a law school to earn a JD. The degree must have been approved by the American Bar Association.
After the approval of the JD degree, the international student can go ahead to write the state’s bar exam. If the candidate successfully passes the examination, he may be allowed to practice in other American states depending on the agreement of reciprocity among the states. Or you may need to another bar exam to be a dual-qualified law practitioner.
If you are an international student considering the idea of studying law in a law school in the United States, what better place to begin than to speak to immigration lawyer New York? We can guide you not just through the process of obtaining a law degree but also on how to do so as an international student.