Tips for Foreign Law School Applicants

International students made up 6% of enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities from 2019-2020. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, international students were impacted greatly by the pandemic—from confusion around visa statuses to difficulty returning home.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, colleges and universities are adapting to the times. Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently offered a few helpful tips for foreign applicants intent on applying to US law schools.

TWO-YEAR J.D. PROGRAM

One of the reasons why J.D. programs are competitive for foreign applicants, Kuris says, is because nearly all J.D. programs in the US require applicants to have a four-year undergraduate degree. Outside of the US, however, law school starts earlier.

Rather than apply to traditional three-year J.D. programs, Kuris recommends that foreign applicants consider two-year programs.

“An increasing number of law schools also offer two-year J.D. programs designed for graduates of foreign law schools, which can save applicants time and money,” Kuris writes. “Many such programs do not require the LSAT, which can make applying even simpler. While an LL.M. degree is insufficient to take the bar exam in most U.S. states and jurisdictions, graduates of two-year J.D. programs are typically eligible for the bar. So this option makes sense for international applicants who plan to practice in the U.S.”

OVERCOME LANGUAGE BARRIERS IN THE LSAT

The LSAT’s reading comprehension section may be a challenge for students who are non-native English speakers. However, Kuris says, there are strategies to overcome the language barrier.

“Reading comprehension passages are not written to be readily absorbed like newspaper articles,” Kuris writes. “Rather, it is more important to grasp each passage’s overall subject and structure and to highlight critical information, then focus on retrieving the specific answer to each question.”

HIGHLIGHT YOUR UNIQUE BACKGROUND

Non-native English applicants may also think they have a disadvantage in writing a strong personal statement. However, Kuris says law schools actually value diverse backgrounds—something that many foreign applicants can highlight.

“Law schools highly value diversity, so show how you stand apart from U.S. applicants in your personal or diversity statements,” Kuris writes. “Also, if you come from an immigrant background and are the first person in your family to pursue higher education, consider the many opportunities available to first-generation applicants, from fee waivers to scholarships.”

Sources: US News, Migration Policy Institute, NBC News

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