Top Law colleges abroad
Updated on Jan 15, 2015 - 4:23 p.m. IST by Bedasree Das
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Top Law colleges abroad
- It’s not often that ‘Born in the U.S.A’ rock star Bruce Springsteen dedicates a song to a lawyer. But Preet Bharara, the Indian-American attorney and currently one of the best-known faces in the US legal circuit, can add even that to his credentials. The attorney, who was in the race for the Attorney General of America, is a graduate from one of the best law schools globally- Columbia Law School. Though legal eductaion is widley limited to being a domestic programme, the attractions of a foreign degree still lure law aspirants. Manu Thadikkaran who pursued LLM from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, says, “The faculty of foreign law schools, as well as exposure that could be gained by studying in an international environment were factors that increased my desire to study abroad.”


There are three key factors that attract Indian law aspirants to study overseas: a global perspective on law, practical value of education and the desire of a foreign law degree. Here, we bring you the top law colleges abroad and the degrees offered by them:


What to study?

The most important factor to consider before you plan to pursue a law course abroad is to understand the difference in the degrees conferred. In many countries, graduate students can opt for an LLB and follow it up with an LLM degree. Although , many top law colleges abroad allow students to study law as an integrated course of five years after clearing 12 years of education.  While the countries follow the same model, they have a different set of degrees on offer.  LLM or master’s in law follows the same degree structure across the world. However, the difference lies in the first law degrees as well as in Ph.D degrees. Some of the degrees on offer worldwide are:


Juris doctors (JD): A JD degree is the first law professional degree in the USA. The degree is earned by completing law school in the United States, Canada, Australia among other countries. The JD degree is offered by both law schools approved or unapproved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and by some Canadian law schools. Generally, a JD is achieved after three years of legal education. 


A JD degree maybe equivalent to an LLB degree. Usually, an aspirant has to appear for LSAT to enroll in a JD programme.


BA in Jurisprudence: Offered by the University of Oxford, it counts as the first qualifying degree in law. It is considered equivalent to an LLB as the graduates can directly go for the Legal Practice Course (for solicitors) or the Bar Professional Training Course (for barristers) after qualifying in BA in Jurisprudence.


SJD/JSD: Commonly understood as the doctorate degree in law, the Doctor of Juridical Science is an advanced research doctorate degree offered in some universities of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, among others. Considered equivalent to a Ph.D, SJD requires a master’s degree in law, and is aimed at training academics as well as law scholars.


LLD: The LLD or Legum Doctor is one of the highest degrees in law offered by many universities across the world. In simple terms, it is the doctorate level academic degree in law also known as an honorary doctorate.


The Terrific ten:

Harvard Law School:

Ranked among the best law schools in the world, the Harvard Law School was established in 1817 and is well known as the oldest continuously operating law school in the USA.  For the class of 2017, Harvard law school received an astonishing 6000 applications of which only 15 % have been offered admission. Interestingly, nearly 10% of HLS students are international represented by over 18 countries, including India.


Fact facts:

Programmes: Harvard Law School offers three main degree programmes namely, Juris Doctors(JD), LLM and S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science).  However, the curriculum features more than 430 courses and seminars each year.


HLU in numbers: Approximately, 1,990 students attend HLS each year among which1,750 are J.D students, 180 LLM students and 60 S.J.D. candidates.


Faculty: HLU has around 122 full-time faculty members and 150 visiting professors, lecturers and instructors.


Admission: Generally, Harvard takes into account undergraduate academic records, LSAT scores and achievements in work or extracurricular activities for JD admissions.

For admission to LLM courses, an applicant must have a J.D or a JD equivalent.  Harvard’s LLM program is known to be particularly competitive as more than thousand aspirants from across the world apply annually for just 180 seats.


Fees: The tuition fee for both JD and LLM  programmes is around $54,000. However, sundry expenses like living costs, insurance and activities might take the expenses to over $80,000.


Faculty of Law- Oxford University

One of the largest law faculties of  the UK, the Oxford Law Faculty is a federation of 30 law schools in the colleges of the Oxford University. The Faculty is recognised for its personalised tutorials, in which students are taught by faculty members in groups of one to three on a weekly basis.


Fast facts:

Programmes: At the Undergradauate level, you can pursue a BA in Jurisprudence which can be either 3 or 4 years depending on the programme. Some of the important master’s level programmes are the Bachelor of Civil Law and Magister Juris, master in law and finance, MSc in Criminology and criminal justice International human right law.


Oxford in numbers: The intake capacity of Undergraduate students is around 230 and that of postgraduate students is over 130.


Faculty: The faculty of law, Oxford, boasts of a student faculty ratio of almost 7:1 with 93 members of the faculty on the permanent staff, including 35 with the rank of professor.


Admission: Oxford being a collegiate university, applications have to be made to individual colleges under the Faculty of Law. However, if you do not want to choose a particular college you can instead make an “open application”, which means the Oxford Undergraduate Admissions Office will allocate your application to a specific college deemed suitable. Admissions to Oxford undergraduate programme are made through the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT), which is a common law aptitude test. For graduate law programmes, everyone with an undergraduate law degree, or equivalent, is eligible to apply.


Fees: Each college under Oxford university charges a separate fee other than the tuition fee. Generally, the average annual fee ranges between £14,000 to £21,000. The college fee, however, stands approximately at £7,000.


Faculty of Law- University of Cambridge

With the origins of legal education at the university traced to the thirteenth century, Cambridge has ranked third among the top law schools in the world by QS World University Ranking. A collegiate university, Cambridge has 31 colleges under it and besides the faculty and university, most of the colleges have their own law societies and a director of studies to provide general academic support. One of the perks of joining LLM programme is that students get a chance to represent the university in the renowned Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.


Fast facts:

Programmes: Besides research opportunities, Cambridge offers a BA Tripos Degree in Law, LLM, Masters Degree in Corporate Law and a PhD (Doctorate in Law).


Cambridge in numbers: Cambridge’s Faculty of Law houses nearly 626 undergraduate students.


Faculty: The Cambridge Law Faculty has over 80 faculty members representing a wide area of legal studies like international law, civil liberties, European Union law, criminology, corporate, commercial, environmental law.


Admission: Cambridge being a collegiate university, applications have to be made to the individual colleges. Ideally, an international LLM aspirant should have  first class degree and should be among the top 5-10% of the class. Besides, IELTS score limit is 7.5.


Fees: For international graduate students, the fee is around £23,000, while the maintenance charges run upto almost £10,000. For Undergraduate students, the fee is around £15,000 annually.


Yale Law School

Standing in the fourth position in the QS law school ranking, the Yale Law School is one of the premier law schools in the US. Interestingly, Yale Law School had started as the New Haven Law School and was affiliated with Yale only towards the mid 1840’s.


Fast facts:

Programmes: Yale offers 5 degree programmes. They are: JD, LLM, JSD, MSL and Ph.D in law. Besides, students have more than  180 courses to choose from.


Yale in numbers: Yale Law School enrolls nearly 650 students representing 48 states of the USA and 29 countries worldwide. Known for its small class sizes, Yale accommodates just 20 students per class.


Faculty: With a student faculty ratio of 8.46:1, Yale has over 70 full time faculty and 50 lecturers, fellows, and affiliated faculty.


Admission: For JD, admissions are undertaken on the basis of LSAT scores. Competition is fierce as reflected in recent years where there were nearly 3000 first year applicants for just 200 seats. Yale accepts around 22 to 25 students to its LLM programme every year. Admission is generally open only to those committed to a career in teaching law.


Fees: Tuition fee at Yale is around $54, 000 for both undergraduate and post-graduate studies.


New York University (NYU) - Law

 The QS world ranking 2014 places New York University in the fifth position among the best 10 law schools in the world.  The university has 31 centres of law covering a wide range of legal areas like human rights, civil justice, urban policy and criminal law, among others.


Fast facts:

Programmes: New York University offers 329 courses within 11 areas of study. Besides JD degree, NYU also offers dual JD degree with specialization in another subject like MBA or MSW. Also, NYU provides for dual degrees in collaboration with Harvard, Princeton, to name a few. Graduate programmes include LLM and JSD along with dual degrees with Melbourne Law School and National University of Singapore.


NYU in numbers: New York University has more than 1800 JD and LLM students who are part of nearly 85 student organizations within the university.


Faculty: NYU houses 103 full-time law faculties in the university.


Admission: JD admissions are done on the basis of LSAT score. In 2014, in a class of 453 students a majority of the students i.e., 172 students scored 75 percentile. For LLM courses, too, aspirants have to apply via LSAC. A JD degree is necessary.


Fees: For both JD and LLM programme, the fee is more than $30,000.



Stanford Law school

The Stanford Law School is ranked 6th among the top ten law schools in the world. Stanford Law School’s legacy can be traced back to 1893 when it started with just two professors, one of whom was Benjamin Harrison –the 23rd president of the United States.


Fast facts:

Programmes: Apart from JD, Stanford offers over 27 joint degrees. Besides, Stanford  also provides JSD degree.


Stanford in numbers: According to the university, the Law School receives more than 4,500 applications from prospective students each year from which around 180 students join the university.

Faculty: The number of faculty members stands between 130 to 150, out of which around 90 are full-time and 20 to 50 are part-time.


Admission: Applications usually open in September and aspirants have to apply through LSAC.


Fees: The tuition fee charged for both JD and graduate programmes is approximately $54,000.


London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)- Law department

Placed in the 7th position, the law faculty of the London School of Economics and Political Science is the largest department in the school. LSE law department is recognized for its close work with the Modern Law Review as members of LSE are prominent among the founders of the review.


Programmes: LSE has two programmes in under graduation- LLB and a double degree programme. Graduate programmes include LLM Master of Laws, Executive LLM, MSc Law and Accounting, MSc Law, Anthropology and Society. Besides students can also opt for a Ph.D and MPhil.


Faculty: Currently, LSE’s law department has around 66 full-time members in its faculty. While there are 9 visiting professors and 51 part time and guest teachers.


Admission: LSE enrolled 162 students in its LLB programme in 2013. Applicants with international degree have to appear for LSE’s UG Admissions Assessment (UGAA) test to qualify for the LLB programme.


Fees: The tuition fee for overseas LLB and LLM students range between£17,000 to £19,000.


Melbourne Law School (MLS)

Ranked in the 8th position, the Melbourne Law School is the first and the oldest law schools in Australia. Established in 1857, the Melbourne Law School is one of the best law schools in the country to have educated well-known judges as well as prime ministers, including Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman PM.


Programmes: The Melbourne Law School offers 35 courses within three programmes --  JD, Master’s and research programmes.


Faculty: Being the premier law school in Australia, Mebourne Law School draws the best academicians from Australia as well as around the world. The faculty includes 39 professors, more than 20 associate professors and more than 20 lecturers.


Admission: There are two intakes into the school each year for international students. One is in October and the other in April. JD entrants are admitted on the basis of LSAT while for Masters the aspirant’s graduation credentials are taken into account.


Fees: While the tuition fees for the Melbourne JD in 2015 is $4,552 per subject, the cost of a three year programme could run upto $114,816. The fee for Master’s course is more than $36000.


University of Chicago Law School

Ranked 9th among the top ten law schools in the world by QS world ranking, the University of Chicago Law School follows a unique academic style which blends the study of law with humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. The law school was opened in 1902 and has conferred more than 13,000 degrees since then.


Programmes: The three basic programmes offered at the law school are JD, LLM and JSD.


Faculty: Besides having more than 50 full-time professors, the law school also has a range of fellows teaching at the school. Some of them include the Bigelow fellows, clinical fellows and so on.


Chicago in numbers: Chicago has more than 600 students in its JD class out of which 4% are international students. The LL.M. program has about 70 international students each year.


Admission: Admission to JD programmes is done through LSAT while LLM aspirants are required to have the first law degree to be eligible to apply.


Fees: The law schools tuition expense is around $54,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.


University of California, Berkeley (UCB) law

Consistently ranked among the top law schools in the USA, the Berkeley Law School is one of the 14 schools within the University of California, Berkeley. The law school boasts of educating prominent American leaders among them are Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, Attorney General Edwin Meese and so on.


Fast facts: 

Programmes: Besides offering J.D, LLM and J.S.D. programs, UCB is the first U.S law school to offer M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Jurisprudence and Social Policy.


Faculty: Berkeley Law School has been maintaining a student -faculty ratio of 12:1 since 2004 when it decided to grow its faculty strength by 40%.


Berkeley in numbers: The size of the JD class is usually 260-280 with more than 6000 aspirants applying for the course.The class size for the 2017 batch of UCB law is 274. Interestingly, more than 5500 students have applied to the law school. The class size varies for masters programme stays within 175-200.


Admission: The average LSAT score for admission to JD ranges between 167-170. You need to have first degree in law to apply for LLM programme.


Fees: For JD students, the overall study expense could go upto $80,000 while for LLM students it is more than $50000 annually.



How beneficial is foreign degree in Law?

“There are a lot of perks involved in pursuing law abroad,” says Swethaa Ballakrishnen, a Harvard law school graduate. “Besides the quality and practical approach to law, universities abroad provide a lot of scope for network building, exposure to an international scene and moot courts which are much more diversified in terms of students and arguments”

Currently a Research Fellow at Stanford Law School, the Ph.D candidate had previously pursued LLM from Harvard and is also an associate Research Fellow for the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard.


Echoing Ballakrishnen’s point, Manu Thadikkaran says “The teaching methodology is quite different in a foreign law school. The lectures abroad involve higher level of discussions with the professors and students. Moreover, the studies are not limited to classrooms, and are taken for site visits of international courts and tribunals as well as to attend conferences in their area of specialisation.”


Ballakrishnen points out that besides the practical value of gaining an international perspective, studying law abroad also has its own advantage of having an international law degree from a country known for its high quality education, which is an added advantage if you want to explore research opportunities.


The top ten universities

Law SchoolProgrammesIntake Admissions criteriaAnnual FeesApplication begins
Harvard Law SchoolJ.D, LLM and SJD; 430 law courses1750 in JD, 180 in LLM and 60 in S.J.D(current batch)LSAT for JD,LLM: JD, LLB equivalent. Plus TOEFL, IELTS score JD: $54000LLM: $80000September
Oxford UniversityBA in Jurisprudence, LLMUG-230PG-130LNAT for JD; LLM: LLB or equivalent, IELTS scoreTuition fee: £21,000;College fee: £7000September-October
University of CambridgeBA Tripos Degree in Law, LLMUG: 626Cambridge Law test for BA and First class degreeUG: £15,000PG: £23,000Mid October
Yale Law SchoolJD, LLM, JSD, MSL and Ph.D650 (JD &PG)LSAT for JD and LLM: JD or equivalent$54, 000First week of October
New York UniversityJD, dual JD degree, LLM, JSD;329 courses1800 (JD & PG)LSAT for JD and LLM: JD or equivalent$30,000October-November
Stanford Law SchoolJ.D, LLM and J.S.D;27 joint degree courses180LSAT for JD and LLM: JD or equivalent$54, 000September
LSELLB & double degree programme, LLM, Ph.D, MPhil-LSE’s UGAA test for LLB, LLM: LLB or equivalent, IELTS score£19,000September
Melbourne Law SchoolJD, LLM, Reseacrh; 35 law courses-LSAT for JD and LLM: JD or equivalentJD: $114,816LLM: $36000October and April
University of Chicago JD, LLM and JSD.JD-600LSAT for JD and LLM: JD or equivalent$54, 000August
University of California, Berkeley JD, LLM and J.S.D, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Jurisprudence and Social PolicyJD-280LLM-200LSAT score of 167 or above. LLM: JD or equivalent JD: $80,000LLM: $50,000September-October


Stay tunes to for more stories on Law.


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