Assuming that by "foreigner," you mean non-citizen and non-green card-holder, then it's very difficult to land a big law gig, especially in this hypercompetitive job market. If you're just merely a good law student, then law firms can find everything you offer in immigrants who have citizenship or green cards. You'll really have to stand out to get hired. The foreign JDs that I have encountered at law firms (very few indeed) who were hired as summer associates have usually had these qualifications:analytic_philosopher wrote:Could you please offer your opinion on biglaw career prospects for foreigners at American law schools (assume JD candidate at T14 school). Do you know any in your professional life? Do you think they faced any special challenges? Also, which market (aside from NYC) would be likely to hire foreign JDs? According to TLS wisdom, when applying for a law firm job in any city other than NYC, it is important to have strong 'ties' to that city (e.g. the city is your hometown, you went to school there, your family lives there, etc.).
Thanks very much in advance!
- major domestic and international connections
- lots of business experience before they embarked on their legal careers
- business fluency in at least one key language (ex: French, German, Russian, Mandarin, and increasingly, Arabic)
- undergrad and advanced degrees in math and science
- near-perfect grades at every level, including law school
Obviously, they are almost always at least 5 years older, if not 10-15 years older than Americans hired as summer associates. Usually, they were hired specifically for practice areas in which deep familiarity with international corporations and bodies is a must. Their summers were usually spent doing serious work and billing serious hours, rather than fraternizing and doing poor or inconsequential work the way most American summers do, because foreign JDs are usually hired to meet a specific need and are expected to hit the ground running. When a foreign JD fits this criteria and the firm has a need for what that JD offers, connections to the city are usually irrelevant.
For foreign JDs who are not basically perfect, it is not impossible to get hired, but it is very, very difficult without connections. The very few foreign JDs who I see getting hired without truly being head and shoulders above their American counterparts tend to be Canadians who speak unaccented English and they tend to have at least started their legal careers in NYC.