American student studying law in england


I am an American student who has just finished my BA in psychology and have decided to go to law school. My long term goal is to be able to practice in California and I have been accepted into several second tier schools such as Loyola Marymount, Hastings, and Pepperdine. Each have given me a 100k+ scholarship.

Recently, however, I have also been accepted to the law program at King's College London. This is a very exciting opportunity for me as it is by far the most prestigious law program that I have received an acceptance from (#17 in the World for law). That being said I do have some questions and concerns about the possible advantages versus disadvantages to getting a partially foreign law education.

At the moment my main interest is in international law which is why I applied to some schools in England as I thought it might help me to have a more international perspective. That being said, I do want to be able to practice and be based in California in the future. The program at King's College would be 3 years and I would get an LLB, after which I would come back to California to take an LLM program in order to take the California bar. I also plan on applying for internships in California during the summers. My main question is whether you have any knowledge on how having an LLB from King's College as well as an LLM from a school in California versus having a JD from a less prestigious law school in California, such and Loyola Marymount or Hastings, would look to employers. Would a background and education in English law give me an advantage or actually make me a less favorable candidate among others in the California law job market who have JDs?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these hypothetical questions to the best of your knowledge!
I am an American student who has just finished my BA in psychology and have decided to go to law school. My long term goal is to be able to practice in California and I have been accepted into several second tier schools such as Loyola Marymount, Hastings, and Pepperdine. Each have given me a 100k+ scholarship.

Recently, however, I have also been accepted to the law program at King's College London. This is a very exciting opportunity for me as it is by far the most prestigious law program that I have received an acceptance from (#17 in the World for law). That being said I do have some questions and concerns about the possible advantages versus disadvantages to getting a partially foreign law education.

At the moment my main interest is in international law which is why I applied to some schools in England as I thought it might help me to have a more international perspective. That being said, I do want to be able to practice and be based in California in the future. The program at King's College would be 3 years and I would get an LLB, after which I would come back to California to take an LLM program in order to take the California bar. I also plan on applying for internships in California during the summers. My main question is whether you have any knowledge on how having an LLB from King's College as well as an LLM from a school in California versus having a JD from a less prestigious law school in California, such and Loyola Marymount or Hastings, would look to employers. Would a background and education in English law give me an advantage or actually make me a less favorable candidate among others in the California law job market who have JDs?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these hypothetical questions to the best of your knowledge!
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emily717
You would be more likely to secure a job in California with a JD. I know that you say that these schools aren't too prestigious, but people who work at my large commercial firm (with great salaries) in San Francisco have JD's from Hastings and Loyola. Those of us who post to this forum, seeking an LLM in American law in order to practice in the states, are at a significant disadvantage to the job-seekers with a JD. Three years study of American law is always going to be more desirable than just one, despite the fact English law is very similar.

However! I have studied abroad twice and I loved the experience. If you just want the fun of going abroad then I would do. BUT BARE IN MIND - English LLB students (I was once one myself - I've now graduated) are only 18 years old when they begin. It is not too common in England to go and sit a law degree after taking another degree, because it is such a huge commitment. This means that, although you are seeking a 'prestigious learning environment' it will most likely not be that. It will be young kids who are learning how exciting alcohol is, who will barely turn up to lectures and seminars because they're too busy sleeping in and spending their grant money. If you're looking to go back and enjoy that kind of fun again, you would definitely be rewarded if you chose to study in England.

Honestly, I dislike the way the English LLB is designed. There is barely any wiggle-room for manipulating your course selections and everyone comes out pretty much the same. During a three year course, it's common place that you can only really choose about 6 modules! Everything else is 'core' that you must sit. I would definitely choose a JD over an LLM for this reason alone and as I said, a JD would make it easier for you to get a job. So you should weigh up whether the experience would be worth it. I don't think it matters by the way that you want to study international law - you'll still be hired in the jurisdiction that you qualify in.

Oh and the job market here in England is worse than it has ever been and they're currently considering scrapping the LPC which means the LLB may also be amended. So I wouldn't consider a possible job in England as a positive of studying here. It is awfully bad.
You would be more likely to secure a job in California with a JD. I know that you say that these schools aren't too prestigious, but people who work at my large commercial firm (with great salaries) in San Francisco have JD's from Hastings and Loyola. Those of us who post to this forum, seeking an LLM in American law in order to practice in the states, are at a significant disadvantage to the job-seekers with a JD. Three years study of American law is always going to be more desirable than just one, despite the fact English law is very similar.

However! I have studied abroad twice and I loved the experience. If you just want the fun of going abroad then I would do. BUT BARE IN MIND - English LLB students (I was once one myself - I've now graduated) are only 18 years old when they begin. It is not too common in England to go and sit a law degree after taking another degree, because it is such a huge commitment. This means that, although you are seeking a 'prestigious learning environment' it will most likely not be that. It will be young kids who are learning how exciting alcohol is, who will barely turn up to lectures and seminars because they're too busy sleeping in and spending their grant money. If you're looking to go back and enjoy that kind of fun again, you would definitely be rewarded if you chose to study in England.

Honestly, I dislike the way the English LLB is designed. There is barely any wiggle-room for manipulating your course selections and everyone comes out pretty much the same. During a three year course, it's common place that you can only really choose about 6 modules! Everything else is 'core' that you must sit. I would definitely choose a JD over an LLM for this reason alone and as I said, a JD would make it easier for you to get a job. So you should weigh up whether the experience would be worth it. I don't think it matters by the way that you want to study international law - you'll still be hired in the jurisdiction that you qualify in.

Oh and the job market here in England is worse than it has ever been and they're currently considering scrapping the LPC which means the LLB may also be amended. So I wouldn't consider a possible job in England as a positive of studying here. It is awfully bad.
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a2
I agree with Emily, if you want to practice and live in California after graduation, a JD from a California school, top tier or not, is going to be more desirable than an LLB from England + LLM from the US. I know many people working as lawyers in California with degrees from Hastings, Pepperdine or even schools like Golden Gate University and they've done just fine - considering the job market and all that's no guarantee, but I think even today a JD from Hastings is better than a LLM from Berkeley all other factors alike. Plus, I don't know if King's College is a name that carries all that much "brand value" in CA? Guess it depends on the circles, but the "prestigiousness" might not carry that much weight in California as it does in Europe.

There's also the factor that to pass the CA bar you need to either be already admitted to another bar, like the English one (I have no knowledge of how that works) or take classes in California law in school. So that means if you would not be admitted to the English bar you would have to take your LLM in California and in terms of more prestigious options I guess there's not that many more than Berkeley and Stanford, maybe UCLA or USC depending on how you define prestigious. I'm educated in a civil law country though, so there might be exceptions to these CA bar rules for common law educated foreign lawyers that I'm not aware of.

Also, if by "international law" you mean human rights etc., then California might not be the best place and King's would probably be a good option, but if you're thinking "international law" more in the meaning of working on cases, transactions etc that are international, that's basically a large percentage of the work in any big law firm these days anyways and then you can probably gain a perspective of that from California too. And maybe study abroad for a semester or something - as Emily mentioned there's also the factor of what you really want to do and not necessarily what's the "smartest" option, because the latter might be hard to define. Good luck!
I agree with Emily, if you want to practice and live in California after graduation, a JD from a California school, top tier or not, is going to be more desirable than an LLB from England + LLM from the US. I know many people working as lawyers in California with degrees from Hastings, Pepperdine or even schools like Golden Gate University and they've done just fine - considering the job market and all that's no guarantee, but I think even today a JD from Hastings is better than a LLM from Berkeley all other factors alike. Plus, I don't know if King's College is a name that carries all that much "brand value" in CA? Guess it depends on the circles, but the "prestigiousness" might not carry that much weight in California as it does in Europe.

There's also the factor that to pass the CA bar you need to either be already admitted to another bar, like the English one (I have no knowledge of how that works) or take classes in California law in school. So that means if you would not be admitted to the English bar you would have to take your LLM in California and in terms of more prestigious options I guess there's not that many more than Berkeley and Stanford, maybe UCLA or USC depending on how you define prestigious. I'm educated in a civil law country though, so there might be exceptions to these CA bar rules for common law educated foreign lawyers that I'm not aware of.

Also, if by "international law" you mean human rights etc., then California might not be the best place and King's would probably be a good option, but if you're thinking "international law" more in the meaning of working on cases, transactions etc that are international, that's basically a large percentage of the work in any big law firm these days anyways and then you can probably gain a perspective of that from California too. And maybe study abroad for a semester or something - as Emily mentioned there's also the factor of what you really want to do and not necessarily what's the "smartest" option, because the latter might be hard to define. Good luck!
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a2
And one more thing, I don't know anything about your background or connections, but in terms of landing internships in California during the summers, I've tried that to no avail. The "summer associate"-positions etc. are usually functioning according to very streamlined criteria in the US, ie to qualify you have to be a JD student in between the 1L and 2L for instance. My experience is that it's hard even to make them consider you if your background and experience is outside the box. But this might be the situation primarily in law firms. If you're looking more at NGOs, other companies etc., then it might be easier. I also think that if you have some good connections you might be able to land a summer associate position anyways. I know a girl from my European law school was a summer associate last summer in NYC through connections, so I guess it is possible :) But again, my experience tells me that you'd be at a disadvantage compared to JDs. So my advice would be to do the JD, do super well in school and do everything else you can go gain that international perspective you're talking about and I'm sure you'll be fine
And one more thing, I don't know anything about your background or connections, but in terms of landing internships in California during the summers, I've tried that to no avail. The "summer associate"-positions etc. are usually functioning according to very streamlined criteria in the US, ie to qualify you have to be a JD student in between the 1L and 2L for instance. My experience is that it's hard even to make them consider you if your background and experience is outside the box. But this might be the situation primarily in law firms. If you're looking more at NGOs, other companies etc., then it might be easier. I also think that if you have some good connections you might be able to land a summer associate position anyways. I know a girl from my European law school was a summer associate last summer in NYC through connections, so I guess it is possible :) But again, my experience tells me that you'd be at a disadvantage compared to JDs. So my advice would be to do the JD, do super well in school and do everything else you can go gain that international perspective you're talking about and I'm sure you'll be fine
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