Studying law in the US as a foreign national

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sfaarab
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Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby sfaarab » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:19 am

I am a norwegian citizen but I have taken my entire university education at top-tier british university, I am considering taking a J.D. in the US. I am curious to know whether it is a common practice for foreign nationals to study law in the US with the aim of staying in the US. I am obviously aware that a J.D. is a law degree pertinent to the practice of law in the US, and I am well acquainted with the admissions process.



So I am prepared to settle in the US, barring personal motivations (which might not be interesting to disclose in a public forum) I would like to know what other criteria and challenges (other than becoming intimate with a new legal system) foreigners might face studying law in the US. Comments on suitability, visa issues (in the longer run), and clerkships and internships will be much appreciated.

Thanks

Curious1
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby Curious1 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:32 am

I'd be interested in this as well.

In general though--I don't believe it's a problem. Especially if you go to an elite law school, employers will be more than happy to sponsor your H1-B visa. For "friendly" countries like Western Europe and Canada (where I'm from), the rules are even more favorable.

I'd say, focus on getting into the best law school possible so you can get an offer at the best firm possible, and hope that that firm has the resources and want you enough to sponsor your visa.

As for transitioning an H visa into a permanent status, I think that's a different process and I'm not sure how it works. Anyone who has experience, please weigh in on this.

sfaarab
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby sfaarab » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:49 am

Thank you for your reply, but I am considering taking the bar and focusing on operating on a state level. I am aware that many law students tend to consider their prospective J.D. in service of a large law firm, but I am more concerned with (and I should have stipulated that more clearly) the study of law itself regardless of the institute I might end up in. To be sure top tier law schools seem to do all they can to funnel as many students as possible into the private-corporate law firm market, which is an interesting phenomena but in my view not so helpful to the current socio-political issues (high unemployment, low job security and inadequate corporate regulations) that our generation face.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:13 am

sfaarab wrote:Thank you for your reply, but I am considering taking the bar and focusing on operating on a state level. I am aware that many law students tend to consider their prospective J.D. in service of a large law firm, but I am more concerned with (and I should have stipulated that more clearly) the study of law itself regardless of the institute I might end up in. To be sure top tier law schools seem to do all they can to funnel as many students as possible into the private-corporate law firm market, which is an interesting phenomena but in my view not so helpful to the current socio-political issues (high unemployment, low job security and inadequate corporate regulations) that our generation face.

Huh? What do you mean by "operating on a state level?" Do you mean you want to work as an Assistant State's Attorney, or in a position like that?

Keep in mind that almost all federal government positions and federal government-funded positions in the U.S. are limited (by law) to U.S. citizens. I believe clerkships are an exception, but I'm not certain.

Also, even if you were eligible for some positions at a state level, I suspect you would be at a disadvantage. The State's Attorney from X state is going to want to hire someone with a background in X state, for obvious reasons. It would be much, much easier to work for a private law firm.

Do you have a way to pay for a JD? Most Americans use government funded loans, which wouldn't be available to you, and private loans usually require U.S. co-signers. You will need to convince the U.S. government you have enough money to pay fees and living costs to get a student visa.

bdubs
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby bdubs » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:18 am

sfaarab wrote:I would like to know what other criteria and challenges (other than becoming intimate with a new legal system) foreigners might face studying law in the US. Comments on suitability, visa issues (in the longer run), and clerkships and internships will be much appreciated.


As a foreigner, you will have a hard time finding a clerkship, or any other employment with the government, that you are eligible for.

See:
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/09/clerkshi ... en-clerks/

sfaarab
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby sfaarab » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:38 am

Thank you that was helpful. To answer your questions, yes I do have a way to pay for a J.D. further. I was not clear about what I meant with 'on a state level' rather than explaining that, which would not be helpful and sort of irrelevant before I have decided to go through with my plan, I think its better to focus on the challenges foreign nationals face becoming lawyers in the US.

Can someone answer this question- is it common for foreign nationals to study for a J.D. in the us with the intention of staying?

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:18 am

sfaarab wrote:Can someone answer this question- is it common for foreign nationals to study for a J.D. in the us with the intention of staying?

You can answer this question yourself: if you visit the websites for the law schools you are interested in, most list how many foreign students they admit to their J.D. program each year. Almost all of those students intend to stay in the U.S. following graduation.

The number is usually anywhere from about 2% - 10% of the incoming class. As a guesstimate at a total number: if we assume the Tier 1 schools average about 10 foreign students in each year's class (which seems like a conservative estimate), that would be about 500 students a year.

anstone1988
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby anstone1988 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:17 pm

If you are from Japan, the EU, Singapore or another comparably wealthy country that has very few people trying to immigrate to the US, it would be easier for you to get a job and get work authorization. However, foreign nationals will always have a harder time finding jobs compared to citizens and permanent residents especially during these few years.

sfaarab
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby sfaarab » Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:30 pm

Thank you, that makes sense.

I was hoping to hear the experiences of an international student taking a J.D. in the US

bdubs
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby bdubs » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:16 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:
sfaarab wrote:Can someone answer this question- is it common for foreign nationals to study for a J.D. in the us with the intention of staying?

You can answer this question yourself: if you visit the websites for the law schools you are interested in, most list how many foreign students they admit to their J.D. program each year. Almost all of those students intend to stay in the U.S. following graduation.

The number is usually anywhere from about 2% - 10% of the incoming class. As a guesstimate at a total number: if we assume the Tier 1 schools average about 10 foreign students in each year's class (which seems like a conservative estimate), that would be about 500 students a year.


I don't know that this is necessarily the case. I think that quite a few people from countries with very active US Biglaw presences (I'm thinking Asia, e.g. China) intend to return to their home country to practice.

Curious1
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby Curious1 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:18 pm

I don't know that this is necessarily the case. I think that quite a few people from countries with very active US Biglaw presences (I'm thinking Asia, e.g. China) intend to return to their home country to practice.


Japan and SK maybe. It is not possible to sit the Chinese bar exam without having graduated from a Chinese law school. Although maybe these people graduate from US schools and work from China on the US side of things.

bdubs
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Re: Studying law in the US as a foreign national

Postby bdubs » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:43 pm

Curious1 wrote:
I don't know that this is necessarily the case. I think that quite a few people from countries with very active US Biglaw presences (I'm thinking Asia, e.g. China) intend to return to their home country to practice.


Japan and SK maybe. It is not possible to sit the Chinese bar exam without having graduated from a Chinese law school. Although maybe these people graduate from US schools and work from China on the US side of things.

Yeah, I was thinking of this and not people intending to practice local law. I don't think anyone thinks it makes sense to go to a US law school in order to practice local law in another country, even if that country is common law based.




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