How to Immigrate and Work in the US as a Lawyer?

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Most lawyers in the United States follow a standard road to practice: law school, bar test, and more prerequisites. However, some lawyers have received training abroad. It can be challenging for a foreign-trained lawyer to practice law in the United States, but it is not impossible to immigrate to the U.S. as a lawyer.

Each state has its own set of rules, so how you go about it will be determined by where you live and where you wish to work. Potential attorneys must take the bar test in the state where they intend to practice law. New York and California are popular vacation spots with the most accommodating requirements.

This article will tell you everything about immigrating to the US as a foreign lawyer, the bar exam, the states that welcome foreign lawyers, and their salaries.

 

Table of Contents

What Do Lawyers Do?

Lawyers give advice to their clients on their legal rights and duties and make recommendations for business and individual problems. Attorneys all conduct studies on the intention of laws and judicial choices, then apply the rules to their client’s circumstances.

 

Are Lawyers in Demand in the USA?

From 2020 to 2030, the employment of lawyers is expected to expand at a rate of 9%, which is approximately average for all professions.

Over the next decade, an average of 46,000 lawyer openings are expected. Many of those positions are projected to rise due to the need to replace people who change jobs or leave the working place for other reasons, such as retirement.

 

What is LLB (Bachelor of Laws)?

The LLB is an undergraduate law degree studied in many nations throughout the world that follow the standard law system.

The LLB is the first step in becoming an eligible solicitor or barrister. Graduates of the LLB program must complete extra-legal training before formally practicing law.

 

How long does it take to get an LLB?

A four-year part-time i-LLB degree from The University of Law is considered a qualifying law degree and can be earned online over four years.

 

What are the entry requirements of an LLB?

The following are the standard prerequisites for admission to the i-LLB program: Applicants from the United Kingdom must have a BBB at A level and a Grade C or higher in GCSE Math and English, or their equivalent. Relevant work experience students may also be eligible. International applicants must have an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher in English, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

 

What are your study options after you get an LLB?

The i-LLB Legal Degree can be completed entirely online, allowing you to achieve a qualifying law degree whenever and wherever you want.

 

What is LLM (Master of Laws)?

The LLM is an internationally known postgraduate degree that attracts students from various academic backgrounds. Those who desire to concentrate in a particular field of law should pursue an LLM.

The LLM is a globally recognized degree earned by both lawyers and non-lawyers. A Master of Laws degree benefits professionals in various disciplines, including law, academia, commerce, advertising and marketing, international diplomacy, and management, to name a few.

 

How long does it take to get an LLM?

In one year, you can complete your LLM. To earn a degree from The University of Law in either the LLM in Legal Practice (Conflict Resolution) or the LLM in Legal Practice (Intellectual Property), students have five years to complete their studies.

 

What are the entry requirements of an LLM?

To apply for both the LLM in Legal Practice (Intellectual Property) and the LLM in Legal Practice (Conflict Resolution), an applicant must have a UK bachelor’s degree with a 2.2 or above in any subject area. In addition, candidates outside the United States must have English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5 or a higher band score, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

 

What are your study options after you get an LLM?

The LLM in Legal Practice (Intellectual Property) and LLM in Legal Practice (Conflict Resolution) can be completed online, allowing you to study at your leisure.

 

What is the Bar Exam?

The bar exam is the last step in becoming a lawyer in the U. S. To work as a lawyer in any U.S. state or jurisdiction. You must first complete the admissions procedure and pass the bar exam in that state. In addition, a bar exam is administered in every jurisdiction to assess a candidate’s ability to think like a lawyer and demonstrate that they have the “minimum competency” to practice law in that state.

Here’s how it works. The bar test is difficult. There is no “fast” way to pass the bar, no way to avoid the challenging effort required to pass the exam. But we also know you’re capable. You can pass the bar exam.

The bar test has well-deserved fame for being difficult, but keep in mind that it is a pass/fail, minimal competency exam. The mindset and method of studying for the bar exam must be radically different. You don’t have to be exceptional in any field to pass the bar. Simply working well enough in enough areas to land on the passing side of the bar test curve is the secret to passing. You want to establish a broad and shallow knowledge base rather than a limited and deep one.

 

The structure and layout of the bar exam

The famous bar exam is a two-day test that lasts six hours. Therefore, passing the examinations will need strength and endurance under timed conditions. The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is divided into three sections:

 

Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The topics of this exam include:

  • Business Association
  • Family Law
  • Agency and Partnership
  • Trust and Estates
  • Corporation
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Wills and Trusts
  • Future Interests
  • Uniform Commercial Code

These topics are only tested on the first day.

 

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The practical side of becoming a lawyer is put to the test. The question contains all of the information required to answer it.

 

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The topics of this exam include:

  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Contracts/ Sales
  • Evidence
  • Constitutional Law
  • Real Property and Torts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure

On the first and second days, these are put to the test. There are 200 multiple choice questions spread over eight subjects. They’re all different. The question has no labels. To issue-spot which area the examiners are examining, your mind will have to race through legislation.

 

What are the eligibility conditions of the bar exam?

You must first determine if you are eligible to take the exam before choosing a bar preparation service. If you complete this immediately, you’ll reduce the danger of not being confirmed qualified as the examination approaches. You should expect to wait up to six months for eligibility approval. It is the student’s responsibility to apply on time.

The New York State Board of Law Examiners requires foreign applicants to send supporting documents. Therefore, the documents below will be needed for the New York Board of Law Examiners:

  1. University Transcripts
  • In a sealed stamped envelope, request a copy from your university.
  • Some institutions will submit the documents to New York straight, while others will provide them to you to forward to New York. Pay attention. Before sending the transcripts to New York, do not open them.
  • Transcripts must be in English or have been translated into English. Verify that credits are listed on transcripts.
  • Requesting two sets of transcripts from the university may be beneficial. You may double-check that you’re submitting the correct document this way.
  • If your university uses an electronic transcript system, print a copy of your transcripts and have them stamped as a true copy by your university. Send them in a sealed envelope with a stamp.
  1. A photocopy of your diploma
  2. Practicing Certificate
  3. Letter from the applicable country’s Solicitors Regulatory Authority/Law Society

 

Foreign applicants must register for the exam once their eligibility has been confirmed. Register between April 1st and 30th to take the July exam. Register between November 1st and 30th to take the February exam. There are no exceptions or extensions to the deadline. A charge of $750 is required. You might choose to delay your registration fee until the next exam sitting. If you sought eligibility less than six months before registering for the exam, you must contact New York personally to resolve this. Your eligibility may not be checked before you register.

 

Is an LL.M Necessary or Not?

Except for lawyers with foreign legal degrees, almost no one needs an LL.M. (and tax attorneys). If you want a long-term legal career in the United States, you’ll need to get admitted to a state bar, which entails obtaining a law degree in the United States. If you have the money and time, you could pursue an LL.M, and if you don’t, you could pursue a J.D. Studying for an LL.M. also allows foreign attorneys to come to the U.S. on a student visa providing your valuable time to network before looking for work.

However, an LL.M. and membership in the bar are not usually required. Many states, for example, establish systems for in-house counsel that do not require full bar membership. Furthermore, you may not need an American legal license if you act as a foreign legal counselor rather than a lawyer.

Finding work worldwide isn’t easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. Political restrictions should not deter you if you are diligent, innovative, and talented enough.

infographic How to Immigrate to the US as a Lawyer

What are the US Lawyer Requirements?

To work as a lawyer in the United States, you must typically complete law school, pass the bar exam, and meet a few other requirements.

Each state in the United States has its own set of rules. If foreign nationals wish to practice law in the United States, they must first pass the bar test in the state where they want to practice. Foreign lawyers frequently choose New York and California because they have the most flexible standards.

 

Visa Types for Immigrating to the US as a Lawyer

Fortunately, lawyers often have the employment and educational experience foreign workers need to come to the United States. A lawyer may be eligible for various visas to relocate to the United States.

 

Working Visas

Many sectors use the H-1B Visa to recruit university-educated professionals such as lawyers. Learn about H-1B Visas and how an international lawyer can practice law in the United States.

 

Treaty Visas

Treaty visas allow citizens of selected nations to come to the United States.

  • The TN visa is available to Canadian and Mexican lawyers.
  • The E-3 visa, which functions similarly to the H-1B visa, is open to Australians.
  • The H-1B1 visa is available to citizens of Singapore and Chile.
  • The E-1 and E-2 visas are valid in more than 50 countries.

 

Transfer Visas

If a law firm wishes to bring an attorney from another nation to the United States, they may be eligible for an L-1 intra-company transfer visa.

 

Training Visas

The J-1 exchange visitor trainee visa permits attorneys to travel to the United States for 18 months of training in public administration and law. After completing their studies, foreign students on F-1 student visas are eligible for a one-year work authorization period known as “optional practical training.”

 

Business Visitor Visas

Under the B-1 Business Guest visa, an attorney can enter the United States as a visitor. The B-1 Visa permits attorneys to attend meetings, consult with business clients/associates, aid clients in contract negotiations, do independent research, assist investor clients in locating investment opportunities, and attend trade exhibitions.

 

Extraordinary Ability Visa

Extraordinary Ability O-1 Attorneys who can show exceptional skill will be granted a visa to visit the United States. You should see an immigration lawyer if you need to prove that you have demonstrated outstanding competence in your field.

 

Permanent Residency

If you want to permanently live in the United States, you have numerous alternatives based on your situation.

 

What are the Steps of Immigration to the US as a Lawyer?

Contact an Immigration Attorney

There are several paperwork and criteria for people wishing to work and reside in the United States, and there are even more if you want to practice law. An immigration lawyer can assist you in organizing these papers and determining the best path to US immigration.

 

Determine the state you wish to live in

The prerequisites to practice law in the United States vary depending on which state you choose to relocate to.

 

Take the bar exam and pass

You will have to pass the bar exam in the state where you want to live.

 

What States Allow Foreign Lawyers to Take the Bar Exam?

If specific requirements are satisfied, international law degrees are accepted as qualifying to appear for the state bar exam in New York, Colorado, Kentucky, California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin. The following requirements apply:

  • Foreign legal degrees are evaluated to see if they are comparable to ABA-approved law degrees.
  • After law school, you can apply for admission or a license to practice law in a foreign English Common Law jurisdiction.
  • Years of experience practicing law in an English common law jurisdiction (Usually 3 to 10 years based on the state)

 

Can Foreign Lawyers Practice Law in the US?

To practice law in the United States as a foreigner, foreign attorneys must take and pass the bar exam in the state they want to practice.

However, having a legal degree from a foreign nation does not automatically qualify you to sit the bar test. Each country has its unique set of criteria for foreign attorneys.

 

What are New York Bar Exam Requirements for Foreign Lawyers?

The New York bar test has two sections for international attorneys: requirements for foreign lawyers with a law degree and qualifications for international lawyers with a US LLM degree.

Foreign attorneys holding a foreign law degree must have their degree examined by the Board of Law Examiners to see if it fulfills ABA requirements, after which the candidate can take the bar test. Foreign lawyers having an LLM from an ABA-approved law school in America are qualified to take the New York Bar test.

 

What US States Accept Foreign Lawyers with LLM?

If you decide to pursue an LLM, look at this list of US states that recognize an ABA-approved LLM as a qualification for foreign attorneys to sit the bar test and practice law in the US.

Some states need additional requirements, such as being licensed to practice law in an English Common Law jurisdiction and working in the field for several years.

 

California

Foreign attorneys can appear for the California bar test after completing an LLM or an additional year of legal study at an ABA-approved or a law school recognized by California that contains a specified number of credits in bar examination subject matter.

 

Georgia

Foreign attorneys may take the Georgia bar exam if they meet specific requirements.

  • They have graduated from a law school approved by the ABA with a law degree that meets the ABA’s curricula requirements.
  • They have a legal degree that meets the ABA’s requirements.
  • They are licensed to practice in another country.

 

Colorado

Foreign LLM graduates in the United States can seek to have their bar test written for them. For three of the past five years, applicants must have been allowed to practice in their jurisdiction.

 

Kentucky

Foreign attorneys who have received an LLM in Kentucky are qualified to take the Kentucky Bar Exam if they have been actively and significantly involved in law practice for three of the previous five years.

 

New York

Foreign attorneys are qualified to take the New York Bar test after completing a suitable LLM degree from an ABA-approved law school in the U.S.

 

Vermont

A foreign lawyer who has completed an accredited LLM program with credit hours is eligible to take the Vermont Bar test.

 

Washington

An international lawyer can take the Washington State Bar exam if they have an LLM “for the practice of law” from an ABA-approved law school.

 

Wisconsin

To appear for the Wisconsin Bar Exam, an international lawyer must complete an LLM from an accredited law school and establish that the government approved the law school they studied in the foreign jurisdiction.

 

The Best-Paying Cities for Lawyers in the U.S.

San Jose, San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles, and New York metropolitan regions with the highest lawyer salaries.

CityPay
New York, New York$180,160
Los Angeles, California$180,220
Washington, District of Columbia$186,070
San Francisco, California$201,920
San Jose, California$231,610

 

The Best-Paying States for Lawyers in the U.S.

According to the Pay Scale survey, the District of Columbia ($197,100) pays the highest mean salary to Lawyers, California ($179,470), New York ($174,060), Massachusetts ($169,120), and Connecticut ($158,190).

StatePay
Connecticut$158,190
Massachusetts$169,120
New York$174,060
California$179,470
District of Columbia$197,100

 

The Top 10 Legal Careers in the US

Legal services in the United States have virtually always been among the highest-paying positions, making it an intriguing career choice for many. You can see a list of the top ten legal jobs in the United States below, based on popularity, pay, and work satisfaction.

 

Litigation and trial lawyers

Lawyers who represent clients in civil and criminal cases are in high demand. This is because they are the highest-paid legal practitioners and are generously compensated when they win lawsuits for their clients. However, depending on where they work and which cases they work on, their starting wage and experience might differ.

 

General counsels

General counsels lead corporations’ legal departments. They usually earn an executive salary and may be able to supplement their income by selling stocks or options.

 

Judges

Judges get generous perks, expense accounts, and payments to retirement plans on their behalf, all of which contribute to the amount of their pay package.

 

Academia

It might be challenging to get a job as a law school teaching faculty member, even as a teaching assistant. Top applicants would need a law degree from a prestigious law school, excellent grades, legal practice experience, publishing in academic journals, and other qualifications, making law school teaching one of the highest-paying careers in the United States. Salaries are determined by the institution, region, years of experience, and educational level.

 

Arbitrators, mediators, or conciliators

Arbitrators are generally lawyers or have specialized industry expertise. They hear and settle disputes between competing parties as an unbiased third party. Mediators, on the other hand, assist individuals in resolving conflicts. Finally, conciliators are similar to mediators in that they help opposing parties in reaching an agreement.

 

Litigation Support Roles

Litigation assistance aims to use computer systems to organize, analyze, and display case materials. Litigation support specialists make good money and have legal degrees or postgraduate degrees in technology, business, or finance. Legal practitioners are increasingly selecting these professions as technology dominates the legal practice in managing processes, legal research, database administration, and administrative operations.

 

Legal Specialist Roles

Legal Specialist positions in specific industries are likewise becoming increasingly common. Apart from creating, revising, and updating legal papers and confirming them for correctness, a legal expert may be engaged in support scheduling, getting equipment, and editing presentations and notes. Developing, implementing, and validating records management, version procedures, and discovery processes are part of the job.

 

Law Firm Administration

Law firm administrators may usually work regular hours and earn an adequate income in larger companies. However, their primary responsibility is to oversee running a law firm’s business and administrative aspects. This includes financial administration, human resources, facilities management, technology, marketing, and practice management. This might be a terrific alternative for individuals looking for regular working-hour employment in the legal field.

 

International organizations

Candidates often contemplate a career with an international organization such as the UN, international charities, or campaigning organizations, even though they are not among the highest-paying occupations. Many students and graduates, especially those with a legal background and an interest in international affairs, can consider working for an international organization. Although beneficial in the long run, young graduates have limited options for employment in this profession other than interning or volunteering.

 

Law firm consultant/Legal recruiter

Consultants at law firms benefit from a diverse work environment, flexibility, and the chance to attend meetings, travel, and meet new people. Top law firms in the United States rely significantly on legal recruiters for new hires. Legal recruiters may spot promising law grads, analyze their resumes, and set up interviews. Having some recruitment experience might improve your chances in this position.

 

How Can Indian Lawyers Practice Law in the US?

Attorneys who are admitted to the New York Bar and who have practiced law for more than two years from an ordinary law jurisdiction may submit their law degrees for ‘review and analysis.’ If successful, they will not be required to take the Bar exam.

This regulation will apply to Indian students. But, this is more simply said than done, and the American Bar Association (ABA) review process might take a year or more. Additionally, there is no certainty that the degree will be accepted.

What are your options? Those who did not complete a 2-year legal degree or who graduated from a non-common law jurisdiction must first complete an LLM in the United States before taking the test. This is the most common option employed by Indian attorneys who desire to work in the United States.

 

What are the Benefits of Being a Lawyer in the U.S.?

The advantages of becoming a lawyer vary depending on a variety of conditions; nevertheless, here are seven of the most prevalent benefits:

 

Wide Selection of Career Options

A lawyer’s advantages include choosing from a wide range of public and private sector job possibilities.

If you believe that becoming a criminal prosecutor will make the world safer for everyone, you may want to consider this career path. If, however, you believe that everyone has the right to competent legal counsel and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, you may want to become a public defender. Many criminal defense attorneys believe this, but they choose to work in the private sector since private attorneys tend to earn more than those working in the public sector.

You can pick from various fields of law, such as domestic law, real estate, corporate/business law, banking laws, immigration law, estate planning, and criminal defense. If a law exists that covers a specific subject, you might decide to specialize in that field. You can also perform as a sole practitioner who handles various legal issues for a variety of clients or as an in-house corporate attorney for a single client.

 

Financial Rewards and Emotional Rewards

The financial and emotional incentives of being a lawyer are at the top of most college-bound students’ lists of reasons to study law. Lawyers have the potential to make a good living. Per the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly pay for an attorney in the United States in 2014 was $114,970. Attorneys in the top ten percent made more than $187,200 each year. Experienced, specialist attorneys’ salaries can be significantly higher, depending on their field, geographic area, company, and level of expertise.

Of course, money isn’t the primary reason people choose to work in the legal profession. Being an attorney may provide emotional satisfaction in addition to financial advantages. Assisting individuals in achieving a favorable outcome for their problem is tremendously fulfilling if you are enthusiastic about your chosen law profession and feel your first concern is your client. In addition, because an attorney frequently meets with a client during one of their most trying times, it may be immensely fulfilling to assist them in finding a successful solution to their problem.

 

Mental Stimulation and Intellectual Challenges

Another of the numerous advantages of becoming a lawyer is the cerebral stimulation one receives while delving into complicated legal theories, legislation, and case law to solve a legal problem. Most attorneys have excellent analytical abilities, such as reading and writing abilities. Practicing law gives you the right to put your mental talents to good use every day to help your clients solve challenges. Because each case is different, you must employ all of your mental resources to investigate, conjecture, hypothesize, and devise a legal strategy for your clients.

 

Argue and Debate

Many lawyers never argue a matter in court or only do so on a limited basis. Some trial attorneys, on the other hand, are in court virtually every week fighting a new case. If you like the challenge of debating legal theories and points with another attorney to show your claims are accurate, becoming an attorney will provide you with plenty of opportunities to fight and discuss legal ideas and different interpretations of the law.

 

Work Environment

For many people, the work environment is one of the most important factors to consider while deciding on a job. Most attorneys work in law firms, government organizations, or companies where they have a four-wall office rather than a cubicle in the center of a “bullpen.” Although, with the requirement for social distance and the convenience of working remotely, things have altered. Being a lawyer usually comes with a certain status that grants you access to privileges that other workers may not have.

 

Skills that Transfer – Alternative Legal Careers

The advantages of becoming a lawyer go beyond “being a lawyer.” The abilities you develop in law school and your first few years of practice are easily transferable to other legal jobs. Some of the alternative lawful vocations are listed below:

  • Legal consulting
  • Banking
  • Legal technology
  • Human resource management
  • Legal publishing
  • Administration
  • Education
  • Dispute resolution
  • Finance

 

Flexibility

Many attorneys have complained about irregular schedules, demanding billable targets, lengthy hours, and few days off. As a result, many businesses have worked with their workers to give them more freedom as an attorney to establish a better work-life balance. To alleviate the workload, many legal firms now provide telecommuting, alternate work schedules, tiered pay scales, enhanced family leave, such as maternity and paternity leave, decreased billable hours, and virtual assistants. The advantages of becoming a lawyer are growing as law firms and other businesses see the importance of giving their employees more flexibility in production and efficiency.

 

Medical and Life Insurance Benefits

Here is s list of medical life insurance benefits of immigrating to the U.S. as a nurse:

  • Plans for medical and dental care
  • Plans for short- and long-term disability
  • Pre-tax contributions to a healthcare reimbursement account
  • 401(k) plan for retirement funds
  • Benefits for domestic partners
  • Insurance for life
  • Travel accident insurance provided by the company
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance provided by the employer
  • Additional employee life insurance is optional.
  • Dependent life insurance is optional.

 

Let’s Sum Up

Becoming a lawyer in the United States is a complex procedure for foreign nationals. The bar exam is one of the most significant milestones in the process. A bar exam is a test that determines whether a candidate is eligible to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. Taking the bar as an international student is significantly more complex than US-born legal students.

If you want to learn more about other types of U.S. work visas, check out the sidebar on the left.

 

FAQs

Can foreign lawyers work in the US?

To practice law in the United States as a foreigner, foreign attorneys must take and pass the bar exam in the state they want to practice.

How can I immigrate to the US as a Lawyer?

  • Contact an Immigration Attorney.
  • Determine the state you wish to live in.
  • Take the bar exam and pass.

What is the best-paying city for Lawyers in the US?

The city of New York in the state of New York is the best-paying city with a payment of $180,160.

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