If you ask any scholar which country has the best legal education system in the world, many times the answer will be the United States. Indeed, a legal education is one of America’s proudest assets. The number of foreign law students in the United States exceeds the number of all foreign law students studying in all countries combined!
LAW SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES
Legal education in the United States is different from other countries. In different countries, a student must be enrolled immediately in the first year of a university degree in a given field of study in order to obtain a law degree. Most universities require only a high school diploma for admission. This is not the way education is structured in the United States. The U.S. system of legal education and law itself is considered a professional-academic field equivalent to the graduate programs at most universities around the world. This means that students can only apply to law majors after completing a bachelor’s degree. Law in the United States is not taught in undergraduate programs.
Law schools in the United States are part of for-profit and public universities and give students the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. The Juris Doctor (J.D.) program lasts 3 years (full-time) or 4 years (part-time). The most difficult stage of the training is the first year, because of the major subjects, examinations and the Socratic method, which is used in teaching the Law to students. The Socratic method attracts many international students to study law at U.S. universities. Most students are not very fond of this method because it is very difficult, causes some tension, and creates confusion. But it is the method that helps students develop a unique legal mindset and learn the practical skills of a lawyer with ease.
The Socratic method is a form of learning through the study of court cases and legal issues. Students read a case before class, then are asked to explain it for themselves. The professor never explains anything, but instead requires the student to explain by asking questions. However, the professor does not just ask questions, but does so according to a certain system, with the result that his questions clarify the student’s thinking more and more, drawing attention to nuances that the student did not initially assume existed. The idea of the method is that the student develops his own logic of proof and convinces himself that a certain decision of the judge in a given case is the best.
U.S. LAW EDUCATION SYSTEM
The American system of legal education consists of 5 main stages:
1. A bachelor’s degree from a university or college (4 years)
2. Test preparation, and taking the LSAT Law Test
3. law school, Juris Doctor program – (3 years)
4. Bar Exam – bar qualification exam
5. Obtaining a certificate to practice law, based on a successful bar exam
HOW TO GET INTO LAW SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES
Many students do not understand the complexity of applying to law school. The admission process is very complicated and lengthy, so there are several preparatory points that every international student should consider. Every year, the competition for law schools is growing because of the popularity of the field.
What you should pay attention to if you want to become a student of a prestigious law school:
– Good, even excellent grades above all else. Law schools pay special attention to the GPA of a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, students must submit the highest possible grades.
– Take the LSAT. The result of this exam is very important for admission, so do not be lazy, it is advisable to start preparing as early as possible. We also recommend that students take an optional LSAT preparatory course in the United States. This will help them prepare more quickly for and pass the test. The LSAT is an entrance exam for law schools.
– It is a high level of English. You will need to take the TOEFL test before entering U.S. universities and law schools. We recommend that you take this test to further your education in the USA. You will be able to prepare for the TOEFL test by attending courses at language schools in the USA or Ukraine.
IMPORTANT: Students from Ukraine, who are planning to go to law school, should know that not all universities accept international students for this specialty. Law courses for international students are governed by the laws of each particular state.
WHAT DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO SUBMIT FOR ADMISSION
To be admitted to the Juris Doctor program, you need to submit the following package of required documents:
1. Bachelor’s degree (4 years) in any specialty;
2. Registration in Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) – many law schools in the USA accept applications exclusively through this service.
3. LSAT score
4. 2 letters of recommendation from university professors
5. TOEFL test score
6. Financial documents that prove your ability to pay. In this case, students (or sponsor) need to provide bank statements on the availability and status of the account. The account balance should be sufficient to cover tuition and living expenses for one academic year.
LLM PROGRAM (MASTER OF LAW DEGREE)
Many universities, in addition to a bachelor’s degree may require an additional master’s degree in law – LLM (MASTER OF LAW DEGREE). It is a one-year program that is introductory to the Juris Doctor program, but by no means replaces it. You should check before applying to take the LLM (Master of Law Degree) program.
COST OF TUITION FOR THE J.D. PROGRAM.
Studying at university law schools is not cheap. You need to count on the amount of $35,000 per year. Tuition at the most prestigious and ranked schools ranges from $55,000 to $70,000 per year. Scholarships in this field are very rare, if not absent, especially international students can not count on a scholarship.
Law is considered one of the most expensive majors (after medicine) in U.S. universities. This is explained by the fact that the level of earnings in this field is very high and in a few years you can get back the money you spent.