Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

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jackieo
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:47 pm

Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

Postby jackieo » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:20 pm

Hello, I have a question and I would just need some opinions since I have no one to turn to at home. I come from a country in Central Europe and am entering college next year. Our system regarding higher education is a bit different. First of all, universities are free and good enough, so that is why I decided to stay here and not study abroad. Here, university programs usually last 3 years (more for medicine, law,..) and then postgraduate programs are mostly just for Masters and PhDs. So, you can enter law school straight out of high school (at 18/19) and after 4 years of law school, you can pass the bar and work as a lawyer. Regarding admission to US law schools, I would be eligible to apply after I finish law school or any other university program here.

The idea of studying law literally anywhere excites me, but in general, the job prospects for lawyers in my country are poor and the market for the kind of law I wish to practice is very small here. My point is, I really only wish to pursue law in the US. I want to keep this as short as possible so I will not go into detail about why I want this, but I made my research and know the risks/requirements. Naturally, I would only be interested in T10 US law shools and the goal is to get a biglaw firm sponsor me upon graduation. Also, money is not a HUGE issue and there are plenty of scholarships provided by my home country.

I, however, have no guarantee that I will get into T10 and I do not want to be stuck with a law degree from my own country (even though it wouldn't be a disaster), which brings me to my next point. I am somehow interested in physiotherapy and consider taking it for undergrad (instead of law) and then try my shot at a US law school. So, even if it doesn't work out, I will at least have a job (physiotherapists are highly employable and have a good salary). Another advantage, the programs only last 3 years which is huge for me, because I don't want to waste time.

There are some setbacks though. It is a science field and I risk lower grades + it would be near impossible to get letters of recommendation. No university here requires letters of recommendation, so students usually don't ask for them (though I am sure it happens). But asking a professor that teaches anatomy or biomechanics (no matter how close I am with them) to write me a letter for law will get me nowhere because it is just unheard of. I am worried, because when I apply to law school, LSAC will vaguely convert my grades anyway + I wont have letters of recommendation, so the school will only have my LSAT to work with. My extracurriculars or any kind of 'softs' also won't have anything to do with law, whereas in law school I could participate in moon courts, competitions and enhance my legal knowledge in summer schools.

I am really torn. So, in short: Should I study physiotherapy that will take less time and guarantee me a job, but hurt my chances of achieving my dreams OR should I study something that is a stepping stone for my dream career and really interests me, but risk unemployment and being miserable for the rest of my life. Also, would studying law here first show dedication to the profession and give me a boost?

Sorry this was so long :oops: Any help will be appreciated!
Last edited by jackieo on Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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OakBrook2021
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:30 pm

Re: Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

Postby OakBrook2021 » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:24 pm

jackieo wrote:Hello, I have a question and I would just need some opinions since I have no one to turn to at home. I come from a country in Central Europe and our system regarding higher education is a bit different. First of all, universities are free and good enough, so that is why I decided to stay here and not study abroad. Here, university programs usually last 3 years (more for medicine, law,..) and then postgraduate programs are mostly just for Masters and PhDs. So, you can enter law school straight out of high school (at 18/19) and after 4 years of law school, you can pass the bar and work as a lawyer. Regarding admission to US law schools, I would be eligible to apply after I finish law school or any other university program here.

The idea of studying law literally anywhere excites me, but in general, the job prospects for lawyers in my country are poor and the market for the kind of law I wish to practice is very small here. My point is, I really only wish to pursue law in the US. I want to keep this as short as possible so I will not go into detail about why I want this, but I made my research and know the risks/requirements. Naturally, I would only be interested in T10 US law shools and the goal is to get a biglaw firm sponsor me upon graduation. Also, money is not an issue.

I, however, have no guarantee that I will get into T10 and I do not want to be stuck with a law degree from my own country (even though it wouldn't be a disaster), which brings me to my next point. I am somehow interested in physiotherapy and consider taking it in undergrad (instead of law) and then try my shot at a US law school. So, even if it doesn't work out, I will at least have a job (psysiotherapists are highly employable and have a good salary). Another advantage, the programs only last 3 years which is huge for me, because I don't want to waste time.

There are some setbacks though. It is a science field and I risk lower grades + it would be near impossible to get letters of recommendation. No university here requires letters of recommendation, so students usually don't ask for them (though I am sure it happens). But asking a professor that teaches anatomy or biomechanics (no matter how close I am with them) to write me a letter for law will get me nowhere because it is just unheard of. I am worried, because when I apply to law school, LSAC will vaguely convert my grades anyway + I wont have letters of recommendation, so the school will only have my LSAT to work with. My extracurriculars or any kind of 'softs' also won't have anything to do with law, whereas in law school I could participate in moon courts, competitions and enhance my legal knowledge in summer schools.

I am really torn. So, in short: Should I study physiotherapy that will take less time and guarantee me a job, but hurt my chances of achieving my dreams OR should I study something that is a stepping stone for my dream career and really interests me, but risk unemployment and being miserable for the rest of my life. Also, would studying law here first show dedication to the profession and give me a boost?

Sorry this was so long :oops: Any help will be appreciated!


Don't think about law school when choosing a major. You're way to ahead of yourself to be thinking about law school admissions rn. Focus on studying something you like and/or will get you a job and then think about law school later

albanach
Posts: 1257
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

Postby albanach » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:34 pm

jackieo wrote:Sorry this was so long :oops: Any help will be appreciated!


The above advice is good - your major choice shouldn't be determined by something so far away. That said, graduating with high grades would be important, so work hard at whatever you do.

Getting into a US law school is probably not your biggest challenge. That's going to be immigration post law school. What value is your US law degree without a work permit? Is there a market in Europe for US qualified lawyers in the field you want to work in? If not, how do you anticipate getting work authorization?

How would you pay for law school in the US? Even assuming you can get half of tuition covered through scholarships (only happening with stellar grades and a high LSAT) you're still looking at $150k to cover the remaining tuition and cost of living.

jackieo
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:47 pm

Re: Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

Postby jackieo » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:48 pm

albanach wrote:
jackieo wrote:Sorry this was so long :oops: Any help will be appreciated!


The above advice is good - your major choice shouldn't be determined by something so far away. That said, graduating with high grades would be important, so work hard at whatever you do.

Getting into a US law school is probably not your biggest challenge. That's going to be immigration post law school. What value is your US law degree without a work permit? Is there a market in Europe for US qualified lawyers in the field you want to work in? If not, how do you anticipate getting work authorization?

How would you pay for law school in the US? Even assuming you can get half of tuition covered through scholarships (only happening with stellar grades and a high LSAT) you're still looking at $150k to cover the remaining tuition and cost of living.


Thank you for answering (: About the cost.. I am well aware of the high tuitions, but like I said money is not a big issue for me. My parents are more than willing to pay, it's more of an issue of me not wanting them to pay for everything, which is why I am hoping the scholarships in my country will at least cover the living expenses and the money I save working part-time + the scholarship money I am already receiving (and will continue to receive) will cover books, health, etc. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to get an outside scholarship either, but I wont rely on that.

Also, I agree that getting work authorization will be difficult, but there are many international students who study law in the US and as far as I know, many BigLaw firms sponsor foreign graduates for H-1B visas routinely. I mentioned I am only interested in T10 schools, because I believe they are the only schools that will be able to get me a BigLaw job as a foreigner (and therefore sponsorship). I wont bother attending unless I get into a top school and even if I do get in, I know that is only the beginning, but I wouldn't be willing to pay 90k a year if I didn't think I had the worth ethic for it.

mcmand
Posts: 354
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: Will not going to law school in my home country hurt my chances of admission to US law school? Pros and cons?

Postby mcmand » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:54 pm

There are a couple approaches you could take.

Some states (not all) permit foreign-educated lawyers to become licensed, after completing some supplementary education. New York and Washington State are the primary examples that come to my mind. So in theory, you could study law at your local university, then come to the US for the supplementary education (usually some kind of LLM program), and then be licensed to practice. The limitation is that your LLM wouldn't be as versatile as having the JD outright, and you would have to seek employment with only firms/companies in those states in which you could feasibly be licensed.

This could be a good option, but there is very little public data out there about how foreign LLM graduates are placing (to my knowledge). In theory, folks with language skills and expertise in a country of origin that a firm does a lot of work in would be very appealing to employ. But I have no way of supporting this. You should research how foreign lawyers do in New York, since that would likely be the most viable place to try this approach and to my knowledge, they've licensed foreign lawyers through LLMs the longest. I've seen at least one post on here from someone who was a foreign lawyer licensed in NY, so search around for those posts and users, perhaps?

If that's not something you want to do and/or you would prefer the versatility of a JD from a US law school and practicing in the US, your plan of going to a top school isn't a bad one. But I don't think it's fair to say only BigLaw will sponsor your visa. Other types of employers are out there that may do that. But it would be more specific to their needs and their relationship with you, which isn't something we can parse out much in advance.

Don't pick an undergraduate field of study purely based on how easy you think it is. 1) You could be completely wrong and it may be very hard for you. 2) If it's not something you like, you may not work very hard at it and still do badly. 3) You should move towards what genuinely excites you and has at least modest chances of helping you find employment, because that will incentivize you to work hard and excel in your classwork. If that's an undergraduate law degree, then do it. If it's physiotherapy, then do that. Law school admissions folks have trouble interpreting foreign university GPAs anyway, in my experience on an admissions committee. Do at least moderately well, if not superbly in your schoolwork, and do extremely well on the LSAT, and you'll have a shot at some good US law schools.




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