Applying to U.S. Law Schools as an International Student

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Over the last few years, I’ve seen a significant increase in the number of international students applying to law schools in the U.S. These applicants are often the best and brightest of their countries, and my international clients have gone on to attend Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Michigan, and other top law schools. Many of them have been from South Korea since a law degree from the U.S. is now recognized there. For these applicants, in particular, the name brand of the law school they attend is considered to be very important because when they go back home they want people to be familiar with the law school they attended in the U.S.

Here are some common questions international applicants often ask me:

1. Am I at a disadvantage in the admission process because I am an international student?
No. If you attended a respected university in the U.S. for your bachelor degree and performed at a high level, law schools will have confidence in your ability to perform in a rigorous academic environment in law school.

If your undergraduate degree was not from the U.S., but you score at a high level on the LSAT, the same logic applies: law schools will see that you are able to compete with the best and brightest students in the U.S.

2. Will law schools consider my experiences as “diverse” and therefore beneficial to the student body and classroom environment?
Yes. Law schools want to bring in people who show their other students that the world is bigger than they might have previously imagined, who come from different legal systems and therefore offer different perspectives, and who will otherwise add to the diversity of the incoming class.

3. Is there anything in particular that should be different about my application because I am an international student?
Yes. You should explain your reasons for seeking a law degree in the U.S. to some extent. You should share your experiences in a way that shows what you would contribute to a law school class.

4. Is there anything I should be aware of as an international applicant to law school?
Yes, you should know the deadline by which you will need the school you are attending to file your student visa, because after that date you will really not be able to switch schools. This can be important if you are waitlisted at a school you would really want to attend – you may not be able to hang on to the waiting list long enough for a space to open up for you.

You should also be aware that unless you are a U.S. citizen, you may not be eligible for need-based financial aid.

5. Will I be considered for law school scholarships as an international student?
Yes. You will be on equal footing with American students for merit-based scholarships (based on your undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, and application materials).

2 thoughts on “Applying to U.S. Law Schools as an International Student

  1. I just got my citizenship, but my bachelors degree and all my life until 24 (4years ago)was in Mexico.
    Am I still considered International?
    Or just minority and non-traditional.

    Thank you

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Ana,
      Since you would not require a visa and since you would be eligible for financial aid, you are a minority and non-traditional, but your undergraduate transcripts are from a foreign country so you will still need to show you are capable of performing in an a rigorous academic environment in the U.S., and you may be required to take the TOEFL.

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