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Working overseas after graduation

From the NALP Career Professional List Serve:

Mon dieu! I am working with a 3L who fell in love with a handsome French law student while studying abroad her 1L summer. She'd like to live and work in France when she graduates so that she can be with her amour. Has anyone counseled a student in a similar situation and if so, do you have any information or advice? This student's true interests lie in the public sector and not the big firm arena, although she is certainly willing to be flexible. It is a serious relationship. . . They have talked about marriage although they are not ready to make that commitment now.

From Andrew Chapin, Director of Public Interest Scholars and Counseling Public Interest Resource Center, Fordham University School of Law

There is little reason for a French enterprise or organization to hire and train a US trained JD graduate.

Internships are relatively plentiful and relatively easy to obtain and, I believe that they give a false impression of post JD international opportunity.

The student might strongly consider getting into an exchange program as soon as possible to actually be in the city she desires so that she can seek out opportunities and build network there. It is probably preferable to spend her third year of law school in France. She must, of course, be fluent in French.

The State Department is one of the few entities that hires for foreign placement but they will not guarantee a placement where desired. France is highly coveted and more likely to go to those with seniority. For your student it may be too unlikely to be worth pursuing....one can't accept conditionally.

Public interest organizations with US connections or groups that are based in the US and have work in France might be other targets, but these openings are few, hard to find, and very competitive.

Private sector employers sometimes (meaning rarely) will place an entry level JDs abroad but that is usually because that's where the person is from AND the organization has a business need there, AND they know and LOVE the applicant.

I do have one student who worked at a firm her during her 2L summer and after graduation was placed in London office so she could be with her husband.

She had no other UK connection. In my 15 years doing this I have never seen that happen before or since. Because of that student, I don’t say "it will never happen," but it is a tiny and not particularly representative sample of post-JD opportunities.

She should investigate teaching law or working in some capacity at a law school. Schools may have more interest in a JD and more flexibility for getting work permits than other organizations.

My advice: the first step is to get employed there in ANY kind of position. Of course this poses challenges for later career options, especially if she then wants to return to USA.