Chapter 3: Attending Foreign Accredited Law Schools

Chapter 3

Attending Accredited Foreign Law Schools


foreign law schools

     For those of you whose schedule and lifestyle permit, you may wish to attend as an internal law student at a foreign law school. Naturally, you will be competing for space with other students and some preference may be given to students who are citizens of the country where the school is located. By and large, however, admission is likely to be more liberal than with U.S. ABA law schools. Furthermore, many foreign law schools qualify for the U.S. Department of Education sponsored student loan program. This means that you may be eligible for deferred student loans for attending a foreign law school if you are a U.S. citizen or resident.What Degree Will You Earn?Upon successfully completing all academic requirements, the foreign university(s) will confer the LL.B. degree upon you. For those of you who are not familiar with this degree, let me assure you that the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is the academic equivalent of the LL.B. degree. In fact, don’t take my word for it, the American Heritage Dictionary; Second College Edition defines Juris Doctor as “An academic degree that is the equivalent of a bachelor of laws.” [That is, a LL.B.]

The United States is one of the only common law countries that confers the J.D. degree as a first law degree and, this is, historically speaking, a recent occurrence. Prior to the 1960s U.S. law schools also conferred the LL.B. degree upon their graduates. All other countries following the common law of England, (e.g., UK, Canada, Australia, and the current and former commonwealth nations) confer the LL.B. degree—the law degree meeting the legal education requirements for becoming a lawyer. To further illustrate this point, the law degree above the J.D. is the LL.M., or master of laws and the S.J.D., J.S.D., or LL.D. is the terminal degree in law, that is, the true “Doctor of Laws” degree.

Note, as of this writing, Australia, recently began offering the J.D. degree, but it is properly offered as an advanced law degree and not a first law degree.

What Type of Law Will I Learn at
Foreign Law Schools?

“…your foreign legal education should be quite similar
to what students of U.S. ABA approved law schools
learn—in fact, it will be “substantially equivalent”
to such education

    All of the law schools and programs listed in this book are situated in countries that follow the common law of England, which, of course, includes the United States. With this in mind, your foreign legal education should be quite similar to what students of U.S. ABA approved law schools learn—in fact, it will be “substantially equivalent” to such education. The core subjects will vary very little from country to country and the elective subjects are generally quite similar as well.

For example, in the United Kingdom all law students must meet the following core requirements before their legal education is deemed to qualify them for the practice of law. The core courses are known as the “Seven Foundations” and are listed below:

The Seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge

1) Obligations I: Contract
The foundations governing the enforceability of contracts, together with their performance and discharge, including the remedies available to parties and the doctrine of privity, and includes an outline of the law of restitution.

2) Obligations II: Tort

The foundations of tortuous liability (including vicarious and joint liability) and remedies in respect of torts (including damages). There should be a sufficient study of the major torts (such as negligence, nuisance, intentional interference with the person and defamation) to exemplify the application of the general principles and the defenses, and to familiarize the student with the principle torts and their constituent elements.

3) Criminal Law

The general foundations of criminal liability and a sufficient study of the major offenses (such as homicide, non-fatal offenses against the person and theft) to exemplify the application of the general principles and familiarize the student with the principle offenses and their constituent elements.

4) Equity and the Law of Trusts

The relationship between Equity and Common Law. The trust as used for family or commercial or for public charitable purposes. Express, resulting and constructive trusts of property. Trustees’ powers and obligations. Nature and scope of fiduciary obligations. Nature and scope of equitable rights and equitable remedies, especially tracing. Mareva injunctions, Anton Piller Orders, specific performance, imposition of personal liability to account as constructive trustee, estoppel entitlements to property or compensation, the developing principle of unconscionability.

5) The Law of the European Union

The political institutions and processes of the European Communities. The European Court of Justice and its jurisdiction. Sources and general principles of the law of the European Union. The relationship between the law of the European Union and National Law. An introduction to the main areas of the substantial law of the European Union.

6) Property Law

The foundation concepts of land law, the relationship between the common law and equitable rights, the scope, the nature and effect of estates and interest in land. An introduction to the strict settlement, trusts for sale and co-ownership and (in essentials) the relationship of landlord and tenant. An introduction to registered conveyancing.

7) Public Law

The basic features and characteristics of the constitution. Constitutional Law should cover the main institutions of government (Parliament, Executive and courts) in the United Kingdom and the European Union; civil liberties and the European Court of Human Rights; the sources of law and the law-making processes.

As you can see, with the exception of the requirement of European Union Law, the remaining core subjects may be found at almost any ABA-approved law school. Incidentally, European Union law is actually offered as an elective course at many ABA law schools. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that the UK law schools require only seven subjects—these are only core courses. Furthermore, when comparing the specific number of subjects required for graduation in a foreign law school verses U.S. law schools, remember that most foreign law schools offer full year courses rather than semesterized courses. For example, the typical contract course in ABA schools is broken down into semester courses (Contracts I, Contracts II, etc.) while a similar foreign law subject will cover the entire subject, but as a one-year course.

 Foreign Law Schools Case Study

A close colleague of mine, Jerry B., is one of those people who just thrives on education. He has earned several degrees, and has always excelled in his military, banking, and economics career, but like most of you reading this book, Jerry always wanted to be a lawyer.

Now Jerry is a bright guy, a very bright guy who could have easily been accepted to any law school, but he chose another path, he went to the UK to attend law school. Why? First of all, tuition fees were about one third of the cost of that of an ABA law school, but even more important, Jerry studied at one the most prestigious law schools in the world, Wolverhampton University.

Now then, Wolverhamton did not attain such an elevated reputation by giving away law degrees, quite the contrary, law students enrolled in the law program must undergo a very rigorous schedule of study, much like that expected of ABA law school students. I know this was not an easy task and Jerry has my highest respect for completing such a demanding degree.

     Let’s take a look at the foreign law schools that will accept foreign applicants.

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