Study Law in the US: Top Universities, Courses, Fees, Admission Requirements, Jobs

By Subhashri Roy Updated On - Sep 09, 2021 04:41 PM

Want to study law in the US? USA stands undisputed when it comes to providing education in the field of law. Here is everything you need to know about study J.D. or LL.M in the US, top law schools, their admissions process, tuition fees, curricula, career prospects, and so on.

Given that the US is home to the highest number of law schools, it is undoubtedly the top destination to study law. A growing number of applicants from India, UK, Canada have been preferring the US to other countries owing to reasons such as excellent academic teaching, highly-experienced faculty, a transparent and yet challenging legal system and so on.   

It further appeals to foreign applicants due to how much a fresh lawyer typically earns in the US. According to a 2017 survey from the National Association of Law Placement, a fresh law graduate is offered $135,000 a year to work in a private law firm in the US. 

While it is important to consider factors like starting salary or rankings, deciding to study law in the US entails a number of other important factors. 

Highlights of Studying Law in the US

Here are the top highlights of studying law in the United States:

Courses, Duration and Level

Juris Doctor (J.D.) - Graduate, three years

Master of Laws (LL.M) - Graduate, one year

Minimum Eligibility

J.D. - Bachelor’s degree in any discipline

LL.M - JD from the US or first law from outside the US

Accepted Admission Tests

LSAT, GRE

Top Schools

Yale University, Arizona State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, etc.

Accreditation

American Bar Association (ABA)

Average Tuition Fee

USD 40,000 per year

Average Annual Salary

USD 144,230

Also Read: COVID Vaccination Policy for International Students Travelling to the US

Why Study Law in the US?

Is studying law in the US a good idea? Mentioned below are the top five reasons why law aspirants should pursue law in the US:

World-Class Education: US hosts 50 accredited law schools featured in the QS World University Rankings 2021, making it one of the top study destinations for legal education. From innovative learning resources to hands-on training, US law schools are renowned to offer international students with the best experience. Schools like Harvard and Stanford are some of the most prestigious law schools in the US, popular among recruiters across the world. Classes are often small, offering each student personalised attention and US law school faculties have numerous resources to assist candidates. International students will get an insight into the US’ legal system, which will further help you practice in the States and add value to your CV.

Unmatched Curriculum: Law schools in the US offer students a curriculum that usually include over 300 courses, seminars, reading groups that reflect the faculty’s distinguished expertise and experience in the field. While teaching and mentoring goes on, students are also encouraged to collaborate on projects that aim at changing the communities and the world. These schools further help students develop real-life experiences by practicing in various clinics, in-house or in outside organisations.

Greater Networking Potential: A lot of international law students in the US claim that networking got them their 1L (first year) internship. It is, in fact, one of the most attractive things about US law schools. They give you enough opportunities to bond and connect with industry professionals and leaders who look for interns. However, while networking, you must keep three things in mind: target alumni and foster mentoring relationships, never be afraid of starting conversations and always ask for advice from recruiters, professors, experts and so on.

Challenging Classroom Environment: Given how diverse US schools are, classrooms will be more challenging and competitive. It will help international students like you to gain confidence to speak up and put forward your point of view on any given issue. Overall, the academic environment in any American university is different from universities in other parts of the world. This is primarily because of the way of teaching, where students are often asked to respond to case-based issues in the classroom. This further helps law students develop a quick response which is an invaluable skill in the field of law. 

Wish to Apply to Top Law Schools in the US?

Curriculum for Law Courses in the US

Law students in the US are referred to as 1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls connoting the year of study. Although the curriculum for law courses in the US would vary depending on the course and the university, here is an overview of what the curriculum for 1Ls in the US is typically based on:

  • Civil procedure (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure)

  • Contracts (Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code and Restatement of Contracts)

  • Constitutional law (United States Constitution)

  • Property (General common law and Restatement of Property)

  • Legal research (LexisNexis, Use of a law library, and Westlaw)

  • Criminal law (Model Penal Code, General common law and state criminal statutes)

  • Torts (General common law, Restatement and Restatement of Torts)

  • Legal writing (including objective analysis, persuasive analysis, and legal citation)

After the first year, students can choose different areas of legal study such as corporate law, intellectual property law, tax law, international law, admiralty law, administrative law, trial advocacy, alternate dispute resolution, appellate advocacy and so on.

Admission Process to Study Law in the US

The admission process for law schools in the US may vary depending on the institution and the level of study. However, there are certain requirements that an international law applicant must typically meet in order to apply for Juris Doctor or LL.M. in the US. Given below is the admission process for both J.D. and LL.M in detail:

Eligibility Criteria to Study J.D. in the US

Here are the eligibility criteria for international students who wish to study a Juris Doctor program in the US:

  • Must have a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised and accredited university.

  • Must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five years.

  • Must register with the Law School Admission Council Credential Assembly Service (CAS).

  • Must have taken one of the applicable English language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic or Duolingo English test.

Eligibility Criteria to Study LLM in the US

Here are the eligibility criteria for international students who wish to study a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in the US:

  • Must have a Juris Doctor from an ABA-approved US law school or a first degree in law or its equivalent from an accredited or recognised university outside the US.

  • Must have taken one of the applicable English language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic or Duolingo English test.

  • Some universities prefer applicants to have work experience in the field of law. 

Note: LLM admissions in the US are based on the applicant’s GPA in their law and other university studies, letters of recommendation, professional and personal accomplishments, occupational interests, among other factors.

Application Process to Study Law in the US

Here is a step-by-step guide to applying to a US law school:

  • Step 1: Research all law schools, their curriculum, eligibility criteria, accepted admission tests and required documents.

  • Step 2: Shortlist a few universities.

  • Step 3: Take the required tests such as the LSAT or GRE and English language proficiency tests like the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic or Duolingo English Test.

  • Step 4: After you have obtained a satisfactory score on the LSAT or GRE, apply to the law schools you picked by submitting all the required documents and paying the application fee.

  • Step 5: Wait for the universities to respond. 

  • Step 6: Once you have received your letter of acceptance from the university of your choice, apply for your F-1 visa, arrange your finances, apply to scholarships and lastly, fly to the US to experience a remarkable transition. 

Also Read: Guide to Student Accommodation in the USA - Residence & Housing Types

Documents Required to Study Law in the US

Here is a list of documents required to apply for J.D. or LL.M in the US:

Top Law Schools in the US

Here are the top law schools in the US, along with the courses they offer, their respective durations and tuition fees:

University Name

Courses Available 

Median LSAT

Tuition Fees

University of Pennsylvania

J.D.; 

LL.M

Master in Comparative Law (LLCM)

Master in Law

170

$65,392

Yale University

J.D.

LL.M

Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.)

173

$67,108

University of Virginia

J.D.

LL.M

169

$69,500

Duke University

J.D.

LL.M

Master of Judicial Studies

169

$79,800

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

J.D.

Master of Advanced Corporation Law (MACL)

LL.M

169

$46,800

Northwestern University

J.D.

LL.M

Master of Science in Law

169

$69,350

Georgetown University

J.D.

LL.M

167

$69,280

University of Texas--Austin

J.D.

LL.M

167

$54,096

Vanderbilt University

J.D.

LL.M

167

$64,284

University of Southern California

J.D.

LL.M

Master of Studies in Law (MSL)

Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR)

LLM in International Business and Economic Law

168

$69,998

Boston University

J.D.

LL.M

166

$58,560

University of Florida

J.D.

LL.M

167

$49,810

University of Minnesota

J.D.

LL.M

164

$52,560

University of Notre Dame

J.D.

LL.M

167

$63,840

Arizona State University

J.D.

LL.M

166

$31,200

Also Read: List of Documents Required for USA Visa Application for Indian Students

Career Prospects After Studying Law in the US

Graduating with a J.D. or LL.M degree from a US law school can open several doors for international students. Here are some of the opportunities that are the most lucrative:

Practice Law in the US: To practice law in the US, an international law student needs to be admitted to the bar association of the state they want to practice in. The legal system in the US is based on each US state having its own rules for bar admission. Taking the bar looks great on a resume to US recruiters, lets one work in the US as a fully-admitted lawyer, which eventually offer better prospects than working as a foreign legal consultant or law clerk. While all the US states offer unmatched opportunities in the field of law, one must pick a state based on their requirements. New York is widely popular among international law graduates, while California is known to be one of the most difficult states to get a qualification.

Practice Law in India After Studying Law in the US: One can certainly work in India after obtaining a law degree from the US. However, the degree should be from a university recognised by the Bar Council of India (BCI). They must then appear and qualify in the All India Bar Exam (AIBA) to be able to practice in India.

Here is a list of job opportunities both in the US and India for students with US law degrees:

Jobs in the US

Jobs in India

Job Position

Average Annual Salary

Job Position

Average Annual Salary

Advertising lawyer

$117,600

Law firm associate

INR 4,40,480

Administrative or regulatory attorney

$107,278

Tax lawyer

INR 10,00,000

Admiralty and maritime lawyer

$118,596

Intellectual property lawyer

INR 12,00,000

Antitrust lawyer

$103,762

Law school professor

INR 18,00,000

Appellate lawyer

$92,071

Trial lawyer

INR 6,00,000

Arbitration, mediation and dispute resolution attorney

$66,130

Judicial officer

INR 8,00,000

Need Further Information About Studying Law in the US?

In case you have any doubts about studying law in the US, please reach out to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.

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