Whether you dream of going to law school and becoming a lawyer or just have a general interest in the field of law, studying law overseas provides an invaluable opportunity to learn about the legal system of another country firsthand.

It can also provoke a new perspective on your home country’s laws and provide a valuable supplement to degrees in political science, international relations, and history, in addition to pre-law.

For anyone interested in topics like human rights, diplomacy, social justice, criminal justice, environmental protection, public policy, healthcare, and of course international and comparative law, a summer, semester, or year spent overseas can be very beneficial.

However, because law is a professional course of study, going overseas has to be done with particular care to ensure the relevancy of the destination and coursework so as not to inhibit graduation and, in most cases, graduate school timelines.

Where to go ?

Regardless of which type of program you go with, studying law overseas requires attention to a more particular set of requirements than for history, language, or political science. Whether your interest lies in international law, human rights, commercial law, or criminal justice, just to name a few, you want to be sure that your destination is relevant to your longer-term goals and interests.

Even if you plan to practice predominantly on a national or even state or regional level, exposure to international law and different legal systems can make your law school application more compelling and benefit your long-term career.

One huge difference off the bat is whether a country practices civil or common law, because universities will always teach the type of law that governs their country. The common law system is used in the UK, as well as its former colonies including but not limited to Australia, India, and the United States. Many other countries around the world use civil law.

Most programs catered to Americans seem to be offered in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Netherlands (especially for international human rights and criminal law). China and India are also popular because of their global relevancy and exposure to the particularities of their systems can be beneficial for many aspiring legal professionals.

The level of difficulty of the coursework is also something to note. Many Americans who have studied law overseas note that foreign universities have a more challenging legal curriculum than their counterparts in the United States. Some Americans who have taken the BAR exam in another country have remarked that passing the BAR was easier in the United States.

For those of you curious about perhaps going to law school overseas instead of in the United States should note that a person wanting to study law should do so in the country where he or she intends to work. The specificity of the law system in every country makes it difficult for lawyers to attend law school abroad and come home and practice in their home country — or vice-versa.