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Prospects for UK law grad in the US?
June 25, 2014 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I currently attend a top 2 law school in the UK (no prize for guessing which), and am interested in working in the US after I graduate. While I am aware that I will be eligible to take the bar exam in NY and California with a degree from a common law jurisdiction, would my prospects of landing a law firm gig be appreciably augmented if I go for an LLM (or perhaps even a JD) at a US law school?

I understand that the US legal hiring market is in the gutter right now (or so the NYT would have me believe), so I'm trying to do whatever I can to maximise my chances of employment.

Work visa requirements won't be an issue for me since I have US citizenship (by birth; I haven't been in the US for any extended period of time).
posted by AtavisticApple to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, my strong advice would be to get a US LLM to improve your chances at a job. As a foreign graduate, I don't think you'll be a great candidate a "local" firm, which will generally hire grads from the local law school programs. Ironically, your best chance at employment will be in BigLaw (which is to say, probably not great odds overall), where graduates of distinguished programs are collected like Pokemon. When I practiced in NYC at a white shoe firm, we had a handful of foreign grads, all of whom had LLMs (other than some from "best friend" firms in Europe who were on rotation with us). Nearly all had their LLMs from Columbia, but this was NYC, so New York schools were well represented.

By all reports, and from my own experience at my law school, the LLM program is a bit of a joke; it's like a finishing school where already capable law graduates (some of whom were practicing attorneys with several years of experience) sit in law school classes again.

NB, though: US law schools are run significantly different from European schools.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:05 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Are you looking to work in a law firm? Or is a position at a large company an option? There are lots of banks and other companies based in NY that frequently deal with the UK and which have a need for lawyers of international origin on their staff.
posted by dfriedman at 6:10 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Oh one other thing: if you have US citizenship by birth it may be a good idea to get a US passport before looking for jobs, in order to prove to companies/law firms that you are eligible to work in the US without a visa.
posted by dfriedman at 6:24 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Another path to US employment would be to work for a multinational that has offices in the US and then transfer. I'm thinking in particular of the Big 4 accounting firms. I'm an American lawyer who briefly worked for a Big 4 firm in a common law jurisdiction. I had a colleague who moved to the US and stayed with the firm. Once in the US you could take the bar, network, and find other employment. Otherwise you are probably correct that you'll need either an LLM or JD from an American school to gain access to the American legal job market (such as it is).
posted by MoonOrb at 7:54 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


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