Law School Study Abroad: Hot or Not?

By Neetal Parekh on January 21, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yes, 1L's, 2L's, and distracted 3L's it's mid-January, pushing February. And though you are still wearing a muffler or scarf to class, sporting umbrellas and gloves to internships, and planning your schedule around rain, snow, sleet, and hail...did you know that summer is just around the corner?

Well, at least logistically speaking.  While you may still be bundled up for weeks, time doesn't seem to stand still for making plans for the summer. Summer clerkship applications, summer associate recruitment, and summer school sign-ups are already in the pipeline.  And so is law school study abroad.

Whisking away to the South of France to muse European community law, trekking to Budapest to meditate on alternate dispute resolution, sailing to Cape Town, South Africa to reflect on political institutions, or even jetting to Geneva to ruminate public international human rights law may sound downright tempting now...and the good news is that it may still be in your cards for the coming summer.

If you've considered studying abroad while in law school, here a few popular reasons that students make the trip...

1. Course credit.  You can generally expect to earn 3-6 credits for a study abroad program though an ABA-approved law school. The ABA clearly outlines criteria for law students studying at foreign institutions. So look before you leap.  But rest assured, you will find a number of programs that meet the ABA's requirements.  Stocking up on summer study abroad credit can mean a lighter load during the academic year, another welcome benefit.

2. Explore a niche area of law.  While you have studied banner legal topics such as torts, civ pro, and contracts as applied to the American system of law, have you wondered about refined applications to U.S. law abroad as well as international law? Think international business law in Germany or Shari'a and antiquities law Istanbul or international contracts law under the UN Convention in Barcelona...the possibilities are many and you may return with a more sophisticated palette for a particular flavor in the legal arena.  

3. Meet like-minded students and faculty from other law schools.  You can make valuable contacts at the foreign institution in case you want to study further or come back for an internship or explore foreign work possibilities.  And some of the connections you make with other students may find you keeping in touch back on American soil.

4. Learn/practice/speak a foreign language.  Whether or not there is a language component to the program, you will potentially be immersed in a foreign tongue and culture.  It's the perfect opportunity to brush up on years of forgotten high school and college verb conjugations or to identify languages you want to continue studying after you return.

5. Set yourself apart.  While many students enroll in summer law school session, a more select group have to show their passport in order to do so.  As you apply to internships, LLM programs, and work posititions for years to come you will have the unique experience of study abroad to distinguish you from the crowd.

So, where to? Keep a lookout for a list of captivating law school summer study abroad programs coming up and act fast, deadlines are already underway.

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