Best JD for Foreign Attorney (2 years)


matt-lp07
I'm an Argentine attorney (LLB/JD equivalent), admitted to the local Bar. I'd like to go and take a JD in the US with the aim of working in the US after graduation. Could anyone advise me on which program/universtity would a) accept at least some of my courses to shorten the US JD curricula, b) be a well-regarded program and c) particulary regarding schollarship/grants, tuition waivers and so, which program would be the most foreign-oriented, particularly for latin-american lawyers, and likely to gran such financial aids?
Matt
I'm an Argentine attorney (LLB/JD equivalent), admitted to the local Bar. I'd like to go and take a JD in the US with the aim of working in the US after graduation. Could anyone advise me on which program/universtity would a) accept at least some of my courses to shorten the US JD curricula, b) be a well-regarded program and c) particulary regarding schollarship/grants, tuition waivers and so, which program would be the most foreign-oriented, particularly for latin-american lawyers, and likely to gran such financial aids?
Matt
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You have two options for a 2 year JD, one is Northwestern University in Chicago and the other is University of Kansas.
You have two options for a 2 year JD, one is Northwestern University in Chicago and the other is University of Kansas.
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matt-lp07
Heyy, thanks for your post. Well, I've been idoing some research and speaking with some universities, and I found out that actually there are more of them that would grant credits. It is less likely among public universities than in private ones, but they can do it as long as they get your credentials evaluated and they find it worth granting you the credits towards the JD degree program.
For instance, Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. and University of Miami are able to.
Heyy, thanks for your post. Well, I've been idoing some research and speaking with some universities, and I found out that actually there are more of them that would grant credits. It is less likely among public universities than in private ones, but they can do it as long as they get your credentials evaluated and they find it worth granting you the credits towards the JD degree program.
For instance, Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. and University of Miami are able to.
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Hey Matt, why not get the LLM? with the LLM you would be eligible for bar admission in NYC and California, also, the LLM is much cheaper, usually takes only 20 credits to complete, as opposed to 60 credits for the 2 year JD. Also, the LLM is a POST graduate degree, the JD is a Graduate Degree in the U.S. [...]
I am from Argentina too and live in the U.S.

Also, another negative aspect is that you will have to study for the LSAT for the 2 year JD... this exam is NOT easy, especially if you speak english as a second language...
Hey Matt, why not get the LLM? with the LLM you would be eligible for bar admission in NYC and California, also, the LLM is much cheaper, usually takes only 20 credits to complete, as opposed to 60 credits for the 2 year JD. Also, the LLM is a POST graduate degree, the JD is a Graduate Degree in the U.S. [...]
I am from Argentina too and live in the U.S.

Also, another negative aspect is that you will have to study for the LSAT for the 2 year JD... this exam is NOT easy, especially if you speak english as a second language...
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hannenyh
Yeah, this is true, but depending on which school you get into, getting a good job afterwards is harder with an LLM than a JD. I would only get an LLM if I did not plan on staying in the US for more than a year afterwards, or if I got that LLM at like a top 5 school. Besides, your choices of states to live in are so limited with an LLM. That is the reason why I am studying for the LSAT. I have no desire to live in NY, and CA is way too far away from home.

But it is definitely cheaper with an LLM, and the LSAT is (really) hard for non-native English speakers. I scored low on my first practice test without any studying. The logic games are ok, but the reading part is hard. So many different subjects with a lot of unfamiliar words. Even to me, who has lived in the U.S. for 3 years.
Yeah, this is true, but depending on which school you get into, getting a good job afterwards is harder with an LLM than a JD. I would only get an LLM if I did not plan on staying in the US for more than a year afterwards, or if I got that LLM at like a top 5 school. Besides, your choices of states to live in are so limited with an LLM. That is the reason why I am studying for the LSAT. I have no desire to live in NY, and CA is way too far away from home.

But it is definitely cheaper with an LLM, and the LSAT is (really) hard for non-native English speakers. I scored low on my first practice test without any studying. The logic games are ok, but the reading part is hard. So many different subjects with a lot of unfamiliar words. Even to me, who has lived in the U.S. for 3 years.
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No doubt that "all things being equal" a JD is better than an LLM in regards to job prospects, but first: all things are not equal. Matt has to do the thinking himself, but JD is roughly triple the expense. Also, it takes longer. An LLM will put him in a good position if he wants to come back to Argentina at a point in the future. Also, the job market is tight BOTH for LLM and for JD students. Last but not least, he will not be perceived as a native JD degree holder but as an "international" attorney. This puts him at a disadvantaged when competing with native U.S. JD degree candidates. This is the reality.
No doubt that "all things being equal" a JD is better than an LLM in regards to job prospects, but first: all things are not equal. Matt has to do the thinking himself, but JD is roughly triple the expense. Also, it takes longer. An LLM will put him in a good position if he wants to come back to Argentina at a point in the future. Also, the job market is tight BOTH for LLM and for JD students. Last but not least, he will not be perceived as a native JD degree holder but as an "international" attorney. This puts him at a disadvantaged when competing with native U.S. JD degree candidates. This is the reality.
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matt-lp07
Thank u very much for your comments. I appreciate them but I would like to know what are you doing in the States now. Are u working as a lawyer? Did u get your current job because of a LLM or a JD instead?
Well, as they said in other posting, having a JD will make an important difference: you will be a US attorney and you'll qualify to seat for any State Bar. I'm aware that I may end up being seen as an international lawyer anyway, but all of us have seen foreign citizens who took a JD in the US and they are working normally in the US.
Another important point is with a JD degree and being entitled to seat for any bar, you can always set your own office. Maybe going trough the LSAT is worth doing in the end. Regarding the price, I know that it is more expensive, but you have more chances to get schollarships and financial aid for a JD. Besides, I would not be that sure a JD is necessarily more expensive than a LLM. You have State law schools which fees are far less expensive than any LLM I've seen.
As to job opportunities, I have not much experience yet, but I figure out that a foreign citizen with a JD, good Spanish command, able to seat for any state bar, already admitted in a foreign country bar (as Argentina) and with a broad experience in such foreign jurisdiction could be a really valuable profile for an international law firm in the States. I haven't made up my mind yet anyway...
By the way? does anybody here know -or have an idea- about how difficult would be, or what chances may I have to find a paralegal or any other entry-level job in the States with my current qualifications while studying my JD?
I'll appreciate any idea or comment about it.
Thank all of you so much.
Thank u very much for your comments. I appreciate them but I would like to know what are you doing in the States now. Are u working as a lawyer? Did u get your current job because of a LLM or a JD instead?
Well, as they said in other posting, having a JD will make an important difference: you will be a US attorney and you'll qualify to seat for any State Bar. I'm aware that I may end up being seen as an international lawyer anyway, but all of us have seen foreign citizens who took a JD in the US and they are working normally in the US.
Another important point is with a JD degree and being entitled to seat for any bar, you can always set your own office. Maybe going trough the LSAT is worth doing in the end. Regarding the price, I know that it is more expensive, but you have more chances to get schollarships and financial aid for a JD. Besides, I would not be that sure a JD is necessarily more expensive than a LLM. You have State law schools which fees are far less expensive than any LLM I've seen.
As to job opportunities, I have not much experience yet, but I figure out that a foreign citizen with a JD, good Spanish command, able to seat for any state bar, already admitted in a foreign country bar (as Argentina) and with a broad experience in such foreign jurisdiction could be a really valuable profile for an international law firm in the States. I haven't made up my mind yet anyway...
By the way? does anybody here know -or have an idea- about how difficult would be, or what chances may I have to find a paralegal or any other entry-level job in the States with my current qualifications while studying my JD?
I'll appreciate any idea or comment about it.
Thank all of you so much.
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You cannot hold a full time job while doing a full time JD program. You may be able to work the first year around 10 hours. You have to check that your student visa will allow you to work and how many hours. You also need to check the American Bar Association rules, see how many hours it allows you to work. I think you should not work the first year, this is what everyone says. Some say the have worked about 10 hours a week. Regarding the JD program, you need to consider the immigration aspect. Someone would need to sponsor you for a visa if you will stay in the U.S. to work after the program, perhaps with an H1B visa. You should check into this.
You cannot hold a full time job while doing a full time JD program. You may be able to work the first year around 10 hours. You have to check that your student visa will allow you to work and how many hours. You also need to check the American Bar Association rules, see how many hours it allows you to work. I think you should not work the first year, this is what everyone says. Some say the have worked about 10 hours a week. Regarding the JD program, you need to consider the immigration aspect. Someone would need to sponsor you for a visa if you will stay in the U.S. to work after the program, perhaps with an H1B visa. You should check into this.
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hannenyh
I think with a student visa you can only work 10 hours a week, and the pay is usually pretty bad. At least from my viewpoint.

You will have to apply for an H1B visa ("specialty occupation") after you are done, but so is the case if you get an LLM. The first year after your JD (or LLM) you will however be able to work on an OPT work visa, which is very cheap and easy to get. I think the H1B visa is approx $1500, which is not that bad, but they keep increasing their fees. On an H1B visa your spouse cannot work though, and it is only meant to last for 6 years. However, you can apply for a green card while on H1B. I am not sure how fast you may get it though. My roommate still cannot work after 5 years, because her spouses green card is not processed. I guess this is why we have immigration lawyers ;)

So your employer will have to spend an extra $1500 on you guess, but if you do well in your law school (a good law school), then I don't think they care too much. Salaries for big firms here are ridiculous anyway ;)
I think with a student visa you can only work 10 hours a week, and the pay is usually pretty bad. At least from my viewpoint.

You will have to apply for an H1B visa ("specialty occupation") after you are done, but so is the case if you get an LLM. The first year after your JD (or LLM) you will however be able to work on an OPT work visa, which is very cheap and easy to get. I think the H1B visa is approx $1500, which is not that bad, but they keep increasing their fees. On an H1B visa your spouse cannot work though, and it is only meant to last for 6 years. However, you can apply for a green card while on H1B. I am not sure how fast you may get it though. My roommate still cannot work after 5 years, because her spouses green card is not processed. I guess this is why we have immigration lawyers ;)

So your employer will have to spend an extra $1500 on you guess, but if you do well in your law school (a good law school), then I don't think they care too much. Salaries for big firms here are ridiculous anyway ;)
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elchamo
Hey Matt if you still have doubts about this subject, I can give you advice and info regarding the schools and programs. Another thing that people doesn't know is that you can take the bar in more jurisdictions than NY or CA with an LLM, I will say at least 10 or more states in the US. And about prices, LLM always is gonna be cheaper than JD, no matter what. Of course there are cheap law schools, but none of them can assure you a job after graduation, even a school within the top 50 law schools but out of the top 10 will give a hard time in order to get a job if you are not in the top 20% of the class, which is very difficult in US law schools. And by the way don't count in the Spanish as an advantage, there are millions of people in the US (including me) that speak it perfectly. I am not trying to give you a hard time or to discourage you, I just want you to realize that you need to plan carefully what you want to do and how you are going to do it, that way you won't waste time and money.
Hey Matt if you still have doubts about this subject, I can give you advice and info regarding the schools and programs. Another thing that people doesn't know is that you can take the bar in more jurisdictions than NY or CA with an LLM, I will say at least 10 or more states in the US. And about prices, LLM always is gonna be cheaper than JD, no matter what. Of course there are cheap law schools, but none of them can assure you a job after graduation, even a school within the top 50 law schools but out of the top 10 will give a hard time in order to get a job if you are not in the top 20% of the class, which is very difficult in US law schools. And by the way don't count in the Spanish as an advantage, there are millions of people in the US (including me) that speak it perfectly. I am not trying to give you a hard time or to discourage you, I just want you to realize that you need to plan carefully what you want to do and how you are going to do it, that way you won't waste time and money.
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hannenyh
I have looked at the spread sheet for bar exams many times, and yes, it looks like a foreigner (with or without LLM) can take more bar exams than NY or CA, but I am not sure this is easy or how to do it. In VA for example you can take it if you get a Dean from a VA law school to attest to that your law school education is equivalent to a JD (or something like that). Sounds easy? I am not so sure it is. Other states also have additional requirements, and they might be hard to meet. Some just takes time to get. Or, e.g., you might be able to take MD's bar after you pass the NY bar (yes, that means you have to wait for your results, then take the MD bar exam). There have also been cases on this in several states, and so that is something to look out for as well. But if you have more info on this, that would be a great thing to share. I don't want to live/work in NY, but I am not too happy about getting a JD either. So info on this i much appreciated.
I have looked at the spread sheet for bar exams many times, and yes, it looks like a foreigner (with or without LLM) can take more bar exams than NY or CA, but I am not sure this is easy or how to do it. In VA for example you can take it if you get a Dean from a VA law school to attest to that your law school education is equivalent to a JD (or something like that). Sounds easy? I am not so sure it is. Other states also have additional requirements, and they might be hard to meet. Some just takes time to get. Or, e.g., you might be able to take MD's bar after you pass the NY bar (yes, that means you have to wait for your results, then take the MD bar exam). There have also been cases on this in several states, and so that is something to look out for as well. But if you have more info on this, that would be a great thing to share. I don't want to live/work in NY, but I am not too happy about getting a JD either. So info on this i much appreciated.
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elchamo
I took VA and I also thought that it was going to be complicated. I was very wrong. I graduated from Law School in a civil law country and got my LLM in International Business Law, as well as a lot of classmates that took the VA Bar exam and the thing is that it takes 5 days for them to give you an answer, and I haven't met anyone who has been rejected. People that I know has done this in VA are from Venezuela, El Salvador, China, Korea, Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, etc.
Also DC is a good option since is a lot easier than VA, the only thing is that you have to take some classes ( I don't remember how many) in domestic law and that's it. I know this for a fact since my ex-boss did it and he only completed an LLM in American Law for foreign attorneys; These programs are pretty popular in the USA, you can actually look at this link and research about the different options: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/postjdprograms/postjdc.html
Good luck an let me know if you need more info
I took VA and I also thought that it was going to be complicated. I was very wrong. I graduated from Law School in a civil law country and got my LLM in International Business Law, as well as a lot of classmates that took the VA Bar exam and the thing is that it takes 5 days for them to give you an answer, and I haven't met anyone who has been rejected. People that I know has done this in VA are from Venezuela, El Salvador, China, Korea, Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, etc.
Also DC is a good option since is a lot easier than VA, the only thing is that you have to take some classes ( I don't remember how many) in domestic law and that's it. I know this for a fact since my ex-boss did it and he only completed an LLM in American Law for foreign attorneys; These programs are pretty popular in the USA, you can actually look at this link and research about the different options: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/postjdprograms/postjdc.html
Good luck an let me know if you need more info
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hannenyh
Did you graduate from a VA school? Or did you just send a letter to a Dean of a random VA law school? Any tips on where I should send it? Or did you apply without the letter from a Dean?

I am very interested in this, as we hope to move to D.C. in a year or two (moving back home for a while)

Btw, I already have an LLM in American law from a school in NC. Don't think I have the right classes for D.C., but I will double check.
Did you graduate from a VA school? Or did you just send a letter to a Dean of a random VA law school? Any tips on where I should send it? Or did you apply without the letter from a Dean?

I am very interested in this, as we hope to move to D.C. in a year or two (moving back home for a while)

Btw, I already have an LLM in American law from a school in NC. Don't think I have the right classes for D.C., but I will double check.
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elchamo
I've graduated from a Law School in DC. If you are going to live in DC I will recommend to send your letter to George Mason in Arlington, 1. because is the closest to DC (the others are like 3 to 4 hours away) 2. because is the one that me and my friends used in order to satisfy this requirement. About the LLM and the DC Bar, if I were you I will call personally after reviewing the requirements on the web, and if you don't have any luck this way just go there until you get a final answer.
I've graduated from a Law School in DC. If you are going to live in DC I will recommend to send your letter to George Mason in Arlington, 1. because is the closest to DC (the others are like 3 to 4 hours away) 2. because is the one that me and my friends used in order to satisfy this requirement. About the LLM and the DC Bar, if I were you I will call personally after reviewing the requirements on the web, and if you don't have any luck this way just go there until you get a final answer.
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hannenyh
This is so helpful. Thanks so much. I have thought about how to go about this requirement for quite some time, as NY does not sound remotely interesting to me and my significant other.

And so to the big question, did you find a good job?

(I will have my green card, so I will at least have that in order when applying for jobs - which might be helpful)
This is so helpful. Thanks so much. I have thought about how to go about this requirement for quite some time, as NY does not sound remotely interesting to me and my significant other.

And so to the big question, did you find a good job?

(I will have my green card, so I will at least have that in order when applying for jobs - which might be helpful)
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rosakoo
Hi Guys,

It was very useful posting. Could you pls give me the name of the Virginia Law school Dean I can write to? Which Law school is he from?

Many Thanks!
Hi Guys,

It was very useful posting. Could you pls give me the name of the Virginia Law school Dean I can write to? Which Law school is he from?

Many Thanks!
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zakatala
One of the posts was describing individual who applied to NU's 2-year JD programme after (!) finishing LLM at "prestigious" US school and yet they got rejected. So i am confused and would really appreciate if someone could help me with these questions as i have a key decision to make:

1) Are job prospects indeed so bad in the US for foreign trained lawyers who receive LLM from prestigious (say, top 5) US school, have advanced degree in other jurisdiction (albeit civil law) and some work experience outside the US?

2) If you had a choice between Harvard LLM and NU's 2-year JD, which option would you choose (assuming that cost is irrelevant to you)? I know this seems crazy but i wont to test how bad the situation is with LLM.

3) Is it true that foreign trained lawyers who receive green card still can't apply to most of the top 15 schools for JD simply because they dont have undergrad training in the US? this one also seems crazy though for other reasons, if you know what i mean...

thanks.
One of the posts was describing individual who applied to NU's 2-year JD programme after (!) finishing LLM at "prestigious" US school and yet they got rejected. So i am confused and would really appreciate if someone could help me with these questions as i have a key decision to make:

1) Are job prospects indeed so bad in the US for foreign trained lawyers who receive LLM from prestigious (say, top 5) US school, have advanced degree in other jurisdiction (albeit civil law) and some work experience outside the US?

2) If you had a choice between Harvard LLM and NU's 2-year JD, which option would you choose (assuming that cost is irrelevant to you)? I know this seems crazy but i wont to test how bad the situation is with LLM.

3) Is it true that foreign trained lawyers who receive green card still can't apply to most of the top 15 schools for JD simply because they dont have undergrad training in the US? this one also seems crazy though for other reasons, if you know what i mean...

thanks.
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hannenyh
I'll answer question 3:

It is not true. I know several people who applied to top 15 schools without a degree from the U.S. (and without a green card). The schools just take into account grades from the degree you finished in your home country and your LSAT score. But, if your question is if they will let you finish your JD in 2 years because of your foreign law degree, then the answer will probably be different. But applying to a regular JD is no harder for a foreigner (green card or not), than an American. They just have to convert your grades in some way (through LSAC), and you will have to take the LSAT like any other law applicant. I am currently studying for the LSAT, and have talked to quite a few foreigners who have applied to the JD program at top 15 schools.
I'll answer question 3:

It is not true. I know several people who applied to top 15 schools without a degree from the U.S. (and without a green card). The schools just take into account grades from the degree you finished in your home country and your LSAT score. But, if your question is if they will let you finish your JD in 2 years because of your foreign law degree, then the answer will probably be different. But applying to a regular JD is no harder for a foreigner (green card or not), than an American. They just have to convert your grades in some way (through LSAC), and you will have to take the LSAT like any other law applicant. I am currently studying for the LSAT, and have talked to quite a few foreigners who have applied to the JD program at top 15 schools.
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hannenyh
Oh just one thing. I have heard that Berkeley has never admitted a foreigner into their JD program. But that is the only top 15 program I have heard of which has this "policy".
Oh just one thing. I have heard that Berkeley has never admitted a foreigner into their JD program. But that is the only top 15 program I have heard of which has this "policy".
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zakatala
Hannenyh
Your answer to question 3 is indeed helpful. At least, there is a level playing filed at the beginning, which is a good start.
Many thanks for your clarification.
Hannenyh
Your answer to question 3 is indeed helpful. At least, there is a level playing filed at the beginning, which is a good start.
Many thanks for your clarification.
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