Legal education abroad is distinguished by the high cost and difficulty of studies. Moreover, it is often necessary to pass several exams before you could start working in a specialty, for example, in the USA and Canada. An important factor when applying for a law program is a high level of language proficiency. If a student plans to stay in the country of study, it is necessary to know the local language perfectly for further employment.

Description of the specialty

To become a lawyer, you must be able to convey and defend your point of view, think analytically and critically, have writing and research skills, persistence and creativity. In turn, the profession of a lawyer has many advantages:

  • High salaries (in most countries);
  • Continuous intellectual development;
  • Prestige and status in society;
  • The ability to help others;
  • Job prospects.

Much depends on the place of work, but often lawyers overwork, especially in high-paying positions, speak in public and regularly read tons of literature and regulations.

Judges, lawyers, civil servants, teachers in universities, consultants at companies and mediators in disputes — these are just a few examples of positions for specialists in the field of law.

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Legal education by country

When choosing a country to receive legal education, it is necessary to keep in mind the differences between general and civil law. Another important factor is your future place of residence, as the curriculum is based on the legal system of the country of study. Universities also put high language requirements, because a lawyer deals with papers, speeches and constant communication.

Legal education in the United States and Canada

Path to a law degree in the United States and Canada is unique and unlike any other country. There is no bachelor's degree in law — it is believed that a student must first gain life experience and knowledge in other areas before pursuing legal studies. It is preferable to come with a background in political sciences, economics or sociology, but young specialists from all fields can enroll in legal programs. During their studies, students need to develop public speaking, analytical, writing skills and critical thinking.

Thus, for admission, a foreign student must already have a bachelor's degree in any specialty. Upon completion of the undergraduate degree, applicants must register with LSAC and pass the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). Based on the results of the exam, the language certificate and other documents, students enter the three-year Juris Doctor (JD) program. If a foreign candidate is a Bachelor of Laws, then he can immediately enter the Master of Laws (LL.M.), as a rule, without passing the LSAT. Admission to LL.M. is easier than to JD, since LSAT score requirements are high, and for foreigners this is one of the most difficult exams. However LL.M. does not provide an opportunity to obtain a license after graduation. Therefore, if you are going to become a practicing lawyer in the USA or Canada, then JD is required. For more information on the conditions for obtaining a legal license in Canada, please read this, in the USA — this.

An important factor is tuition fees. In the United States, JD has the opportunity to receive financial aid from law schools, and for LL.M. it is advisable to look for funding from external sources.

It is difficult to enroll in a law school, but it is even more difficult to study there. During the study breaks, students are already actively seeking internships and part-time jobs in the legal field. However, even after graduation, it is still impossible to practice law. To obtain a license, you must pass a qualifying exam (bar examination). In Canada, additional evaluation stages must be passed in addition to the exam. They depend on the province, for example, in Ontario you must:

  • Work 10 months under the guidance of a licensed and qualified lawyer (articling) or
  • Complete the Law Practice Program (LPP) of the Law Society of Ontario. LPP consists of 4 months of study and 4 months of internship.

In the United States, newly minted lawyers choose the state in which they are going to work and register for the exam with the state council. The Bar exam lasts 2, sometimes 3 days, it is imperative to thoroughly prepare for it. After a successful examination, the specialist can begin to practice law.

The next steps in education: Master's degree — Master of Laws (LL.M.) and doctoral studies — Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) The master's degree usually takes 1 year to complete and is aimed at a narrow specialization. Doctoral studies last for 2-5 years and open up opportunities in academic careers and teaching.

It should be noted that legal education in the USA has a narrow specialization in comparison to other countries: here students focus on their area of law.

Law education in the United Kingdom

Legal education in the United Kingdom is divided between the common law system of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the hybrid common law system in Scotland. The first stage in education is:

  • Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or
  • Bachelor in another specialization + one-year Graduate Diploma in Law (transfer course, GDL).

Further, education is divided into areas of future lawyers: solicitor and barrister. The difference between them lies in the responsibilities they perform.

Solicitors provide legal support, advice and services to clients, while barristers represent individuals or organizations in court, conduct legal research and advise clients. Solicitors are considered lower rank lawyers as they handle paperwork most of the time and act as intermediaries between the client and the barrister.

To become a solicitor, you need to take a Legal Practice Course, (LPC) or a Solicitor Apprenticeship, which lasts 6 years and includes the entire legal degree program and LPC. The internship allows students to obtain a Master of Laws (LL.M.). To become a barrister, you must complete all 3 components of training:

  • Academic (law degree);
  • Professional (usually Bar Professional Training Course, BPTC); from September 2020, new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is in place;
  • Internship (training at work)

International students also go through all these stages. Lawyers that graduated from non-British universities, are eligible to pass the GDL and after it LPC or BPTC. More information can be found here or on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website.

Legal education in Australia

To enroll in an Australian law school, you need 12 years of secondary education. Some universities offer a Foundation course, after which students with 11 years of school study enter the Bachelor of Laws, LL.B., sometimes Juris Doctor, JD. It can last for 3 years if the candidate already has a degree and 4 years for high school graduates.
To become a professional lawyer, you must also complete practical legal training. Master's and doctoral degrees are available for further professional and academic development.

Law education in the Netherlands

Studying law in the Netherlands begins with obtaining a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B), which lasts for 3 years. Then comes the Master of Laws( LL.M.) degree, lasting 1 year. In English, a bachelor's degree is offered by 4 universities: the University of Groningen, the Hague University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht and Tilburg universities.

Jurisprudence in the CIS (Russia)

In Russia, as in other CIS countries, legal education can be obtained at universities and colleges. However, universities are more prestigious and offer more job opportunities. The decision on the specialty of the student must be made in advance: for admission to a law program, universities take the Unified State Exam only in social studies or history. Further, the career of a lawyer can follow different scenarios, depending on the specialization. For example, to become a notary, you need to pass a qualifying exam, a lawyer — have work experience and also pass special exams.

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Requirements for admission to law programs

Requirements for admission differ depending on the country, university and program. General criteria are as follows:

Cost of legal education in English

Budget legal education in English

CountryUniversityProgramsCost/year
LithuaniaVilnius University Master of International and European Law3,255 USD
GermanyHumboldt-UniversitätInternational Dispute Resolution (LL.M.)Free
FranceSciences PoMaster in Economic Law15,947 USD
USAUniversity of the District of Columbia Doctor of Laws24,874 USD
ItalySaint Anna School of Advanced Studies of PisaMaster in Human Rights and Conflict Management8,136 USD
FranceCatholic University of LyonMaster in International Business Law9,764 USD
BelgiumKatholieke Universiteit Leuven Master of Laws6,509 USD
IrelandMaynooth UniversityBachelor of Law15,188 USD
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Cost of legal education in other languages

NoCountryUniversityProgramBachelor’s/yearLanguage
43GermanyUniversity of Munich
  • German law;
  • European International Economic Law
FreeGerman
47ArgentinaUniversity of Buenos Aires
  • Law;
  • Teaching Law
FreeSpanish
47BrazilUniversity of São Paulo
  • Law;
  • Law practice;
  • Development of legislation acts
FreePortuguese
49TaiwanNational Taiwan UniversityBachelor of Laws1,598 USDChinese
51-100GermanyFree University of BerlinBachelor of Laws (LL.B.)FreeGerman
51-100ChinaFudan University
  • Law;
  • Chinese business right
50000 RMBChinese
51-100JapanKyoto UniversityLaw3,561 USDJapanese
51-100RussiaLomonosov Moscow State University
  • Jurisprudence;
  • International law
4,944 USDRussian
51-100ItalyUniversity of Rome La Sapienza
  • Administrative;
  • European private law
1,085 USDItalian
51-100SpainComplutense University of Madrid
  • Law;
  • International law;
  • Financial law
11,933 USDSpanish

Foundation courses for law students

CountryDurationUniversityLanguage of InstructionCost
United Kingdom1 yearOxford Brookes University English17,638 USD
Malaysia1 yearManagement and Science UniversityEnglish4,201 USD
United Kingdom1 yearUniversity of Westminster English17,765 USD
Netherlands1 yearMaastricht University English15,188 USD
Ireland1 yearTrinity College DublinEnglish17,878 USD

Types of law programs

Most popular law programs

ProgramDescription
JurisprudenceGenerally, programs include constitutional and administrative law, contract law, criminal and civil law, private and public law. The study examines the jurisdiction, laws and regulations of the country in which the study is taking place.
International lawA set of rules, norms and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. Countries come together and formulate laws and regulations on a wide range of issues. However, as a rule, international law is advisory in nature, so the governments of the countries independently decide whether to implement and abide by international laws or not.
Business / commercial / entrepreneurial lawRegulates business relations between people. There are 2 different areas of business law:
  • Regulation of commercial organizations through laws on partnerships, companies, bankruptcy;
  • Regulation of commercial transactions through contract law.
Business law also prevents problems that could harm a business or cause legal disputes.

The most promising legal programs

The trend in the labor market is that due to the high competition among general lawyers, employers need more highly specialized professionals. In addition, the development of technology and modern problems of humanity are making their own adjustments to the formation of demanded specializations. For example, robotization of the sphere of law is gradually being introduced, namely, programs and systems that perform routine work: search and analysis of information, drafting contracts and claims. So in 2017, artificial intelligence replaced about 70% of all mid-level management staff working at Sberbank which also included lawyers[1].

ProgramDescriptionEstimated position / jobUniversities
Environmental LawRegulates human interaction with the environment from a legal standpoint, determines who and under what conditions can use natural resources, and develops environmental requirements for business activities.
  • Business support in the field of ecology, ethical products and green building;
  • Development of legislation, etc.
University of Eastern Finland, University of Dundee, University of Groningen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Keele University
Cyber ​​Law (Internet Law)Regulates relations related to the Internet. Any law or regulation related to the way people use computers, smartphones, the Internet and other related technologies is classified as cyber law.
  • Protection of rights in the field of IT (development, installation and maintenance of software, data exchange on servers and websites);
  • Protection of the rights of citizens in the electronic exchange of information;
  • Cyber ​​security activities, etc.
Loyola Marymount University, George Washington University,
University of Johannesburg, Universidad de Leon
Intellectual Property Law (Copyright Law)Enforces legal rights for inventions, creations and works of art.
  • Protection of clients in the sphere of intellectual property rights violations and patent disputes;
  • Registration of trademarks;
  • Drafting and registering assignment and license agreements, etc.
University of Melbourne, Hanken School of Economics, UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, Jagiellonian University, BAUMAN Moscow State Technical University, University of Technology Sydney
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Law degrees

Such degrees are designated differently from country to country. Bachelor’s degrees are usually called:

  • Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) — a degree in the field of laws in England and in most common law jurisdictions. For example, in Scotland, South Africa, Israel, Australia, New Zealand. Not used in the United States and Canada;
  • Juris Doctor, Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD, D.Jur. or DJur) is a professional degree in law and one of several doctoral degrees. Used in Australia, Canada, the United States, and some other common law countries.

Some regions offer both types of degrees (LL.B. and JD), such as Australia and Hong Kong.

Master of Laws (ML or LL.M.) — a postgraduate degree for those who already have an academic degree in law / professional degree in law / bachelor's degree in a related subject. In some jurisdictions, the Master of Laws is a required professional degree to begin legal practice.

Doctor of Law or Doctor of Laws. The name also depends on the country:

  • Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD or SJD) — Argentina, Canada;
  • Doctor juris (Dr. iur. or Dr. jur.) — Germany;
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) — Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Great Britain;
  • Juris Doctor (JD) — USA, Australia;
  • Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) — Canada, South Africa, Malta, Great Britain, Sweden.

Juris Doctor (JD) is a professional degree in North America. JD has academic status as a Professional Doctor in the United States and a Master's degree in Australia.

Learn more about degrees

Scholarships and free law education

Free law education can be found in countries that do not charge tuition fees. For example, in Germany, Austria and Norway, but there most programs are taught in the local language instead of English.

Another opportunity to study for free is scholarships and grants from the country of study. For example, the Turkish government offers the Turkey Burslari Scholarship, which covers 100% of the tuition fees and other expenses. Also Hungary and Germany provide free education to talented students through grants from Stipendium Hungaricum and DAAD. In Sweden, all PhD programs are free, among which you can find legal programs.

There are general and separate scholarships for law students from the universities themselves. For example, Dean’s Scholarship from the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney or grant CAHR at the University of York in the UK. Additionally, various competitions are held, for example, for writing an essay. Typically, they offer a one-time amount to help cover small expenses.

You can track current opportunities here and on the websites of universities.

Internships for lawyers

  • Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) corporation offers unpaid internships for students and lawyers in the United States. The duration is from 1 month to a year. Typically, applicants are residents of nearby cities or locals. The main requirements are knowledge of English, strong academic background and international experience.
  • Private organization Connect-123 offers paid internships in major capitals of the world. For Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Shanghai and Sydney, the program fee for 2020 is 2,850 USD excluding housing expenses. For Barcelona and Dublin — 3,092 USD per year. Connect-123 has a database of internships available which can be viewed here.
  • Internships Amnesty International has offices in London, Geneva, New York and other cities. Internships are offered in partnership with universities or work within the organization itself in the field of international law. Duration of internships — 4-6 months full-time or part-time[2].
  • International Bar Association offers a Legal Internship Program that is available to law students, doctoral students and young professionals at the offices of the International Bar Association in London, Washington and The Hague[3].

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Employment prospects with a law degree

The career path in law largely depends on the country of study and further residence. In some countries, for example, in Canada and the USA, one cannot become a lawyer immediately after graduation — you must first pass the exams.

Despite the fact that the profession of a lawyer is popular among applicants, and the number of graduates is increasing every year, private and state structures almost always have vacancies and are looking for competent specialists. The main employers for lawyers are: courts, private law firms, government agencies, international organizations (UN, UNICEF, Council of Europe), non-profit legal organizations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch), etc.

Responsibility for legal practice during studies usually falls on the student. Sometimes universities and professors give tips and help students, but mostly students are looking for internships and employment on their own.

How much does a lawyer earn?

CountryMin. salary / yearAvg. salary / year
USA59,670 USD122,960 USD
Great Britain25,369 USD88,825 USD
Australia47,140 USD69,254 USD
Canada37,897 USD78,237 USD
Hong Kong77,871 USD115,080 USD
South Korea33,352 USD78,331 USD
Germany42,960 USD100,890 USD
France47,299 USD110,654 USD
Czech Republic34,274 USD49,794 USD
Russia4,564 USD9,128 USD

Interesting facts about legal education

  • The word “Jurisprudence” comes from the Latin words jūris — “law” and prūdentia — “foresight, knowledge”. Legal education originates from ancient Rome, while the first textbook on jurisprudence is considered to be the Institutes by Gaius.
  • Sharia law is fully or partially implemented in the legislation of many Islamic countries. For example, in Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar, UAE, Egypt. In the universities of these countries Sharia law is taught alongside the state law.
  • Of the 44 US presidents, 26 were lawyers. Some of the universities that have graduated the heads of state are Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Duke University Law School, Columbia Law School, University of Cincinnati College of Law.
  • In the modern world, many law graduates do not work in their specialty.This also happened in the past, among law graduates there were those who had achieved great success in another field. For example, Mahatma Gandhi, Lev Tolstoy, Honore de Balzac, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Anna Akhmatova, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Gottfried Leibniz, Alexander Alekhin studied to be lawyers.
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