Studying law abroad - an overview
Are you thinking of studying law abroad?
If so, perhaps the first question you should ask yourself is what type of career you intend to take up once you have got your degree. People seem to assume that studying law is limited to wanting to appear in court, bewigged, in a black gown and carrying a sheaf of clever notes which will stun the defence (or prosecution) and help you win your case.
Of course, this is one path which you could take, but the percentage of law students who actually go on to take their professional exams, get offered a place in chambers and practise at the bar is quite small.
A far larger number of law graduates end up working in business, industry, for NGOs and government departments, for charities and in national and multinational companies, providing policy advice, drawing up contracts and documents, and dealing with the minutiae of rules, legislation and compliance issues.
If you have set your heart on studying law abroad, rather than concentrating on your national legal system, then there are many fields where your qualification and international experience will be highly valued. At a time of rapid globalisation and an ever-shrinking world, many issues cross borders. You could specialise in international commercial law, international criminal law, human rights law, migration and refugee law, tax law, or global governance – the possibilities are virtually endless.
Studying law in English in the EU
At present, there are approximately 20 courses available in Europe at undergraduate level where law is taught in English. At Master’s level, you will have a far broader choice. Here are some of the best rated law courses which you could study abroad for your first degree:
At Master’s level, you could apply to:
Other options include Master’s degrees in law, taught in English, in Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania and Finland. Contact Elab if these destinations interest you and we will give you up to date information on the courses on offer in the next academic year.
Studying law abroad – the UK
The list, below, ranks the best courses for studying law in Europe in 2020, and thus before Brexit, and the top five are all British universities:
The British legal system, like that of the US and Australia, is based on common law. Law courses can be divided into those which are Qualifying Law Degrees, which prepare students for registering with the Law Society and becoming barristers and solicitors, and those which offer transferable skills.
Many British universities expect candidates to sit the LNAT entry exam in order to study law, and undergraduate courses last for three years.
Law is often taught as a dual or joint degree, and the most popular combinations include human rights, medical ethics, criminology, accounting and technology.
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Students specialise in their second or third year and can choose between many very different areas, such as business and commercial law, family law, criminal law, land law, building law and computer law.
In addition, UCL, LSE, Kings College London and Queen Mary, London, have linked up with Columbia Law School in the US, and offer students the opportunity to get their LLB and the American JD (Juris Doctor) in four years.
Similarly, Exeter University works with the University of Southern California to offer a dual law degree.
Remember, though that although the US system is based on the British system of common law, this does not mean that your qualifications in the UK will allow you to automatically practise in the US.
See below, for further details.
British law degrees are recognised all over the world and highly rated. If you are considering studying law in Ireland, then both Trinity College, Dublin and University College, Dublin feature in the top 100 law degree global rankings, while the University of Edinburgh is ranked 23rd in the world in the 2021 QS subject rankings.
Applications to study law in the UK are processed through the central UCAS system, but it is essential to check whether or not you will have to sit an entrance exam, and pay attention to the deadlines.
Contact Elab if you want to check individual entry requirements, to contact one of our mentors who is currently studying law in the UK, and to get information on the LNAT, course fees etc.
Studying law abroad: taking a non-standard degree
Law does not have to be a stand-alone subject. You could combine it with a range of other topics and sit a degree in a huge range of subjects, including:
- Law and French
- Law and criminology
- Law and politics
- Law and Hong Kong Law
- Law and a year in industry
- Law and anthropology
- Law and gender studies
- Law and International Relations
- Politics, Law and Economics
- Politics, psychology, law and economics
Most of these above listed degrees do not prepare you for a career in court, although in some cases you can convert or use your qualification to apply for a Master’s or the American JD. Contact Elab for further information on conversion courses.
Studying law in the US and Canada
You will not be able to sign up for an undergraduate programme in the US and Canada, but will need to have a bachelor’s degree and do a JD course or a LLM.
Be warned, studying law can be extremely expensive in this part of the world and admission to law school is extremely competitive. This is, of course, because 50 of the world’s highest rated law schools are based in North America. Do not assume that once you have gained your degree you will be able to automatically practise law in either country.
Each Canadian province and US state has its own regulations for admitting postgraduates to the bar and you will also have to sit bar exams in order to get a license to practise. Most US states only allow you to practise in the state where you studied.
Admission requirements for studying law in the US and Canada
If you have set your heart on studying law in the US or Canada, the best way forward is to choose a European university which works with an American law school, so that you can get an LLB and JD in five years. Contact Elab for further information, guidance and suggestions.
Studying Law Abroad – a wealth of options
Studying law abroad is but the first step to an extraordinary career, whether advising government administrators, challenging legislators, working for an NGO or safeguarding the vulnerable.
A law degree will open doors to a wide variety of job possibilities, as well as preparing you to practise law in its purest form. Returning full circle, therefore, the first key decision you must take is what type of law degree you want to take: single, joint, combined, undergraduate or postgraduate. Once you have an answer to this question, you are ready to explore the vast range of courses, and decide where you wish to study law abroad.
Elab is here to help you navigate through the options open to you, and to provide you with help, and the information you need to choose the law degree which will help you meet your career goals. Call or email us and we will start working together to prepare the documentation you need to apply to study law abroad.