Foreign Trained Attorney: How to become a Lawyer in the U.S. as a Foreigner
The legal services industry is always on the top list of the top paying and appealing choices for many people in the U.S. If you want to become a lawyer as a foreigner, you need to know how the process goes. This is very important for students looking to study law in the U.S. or those with foreign training.

How to Become a Lawyer in the U.S. as a Foreigner
Here is the simple process to help you take the bar as a foreigner:

Complete a J.D. program at a U.S. Law School
You must first obtain a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree to become a lawyer. Enrolling in this degree requires a bachelor’s degree from your home country. This is the minimum academic requirement to get a U.S. state degree. You must choose a school approved by the American Bar Association. The state where the school is located must allow international students to sit for the state’s bar exam.

How to Choose a Law School That Fits You the Best

If you have a degree in law from your home country, you must choose the law school that fits your needs. You must enroll in a Master of Laws program, which is the eligibility to sit the bar exam. Remember that not all schools allow foreigners to sit this exam. Thus, you must choose a school in a state where you can join the program.

Complete an Approved LLM in a U.S. Law School

Getting admitted to a U.S. law school requires fulfilling the requirements for the program, including:

  • A law degree
  • English language proficiency
  • Transcript from your former Law school
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Work and research experience

States That Allow Foreign Lawyers to Take the Bar

Not all states in the U.S. allow foreign-trained lawyers to sit the bar exam. The states that allow accepting foreign-trained lawyers to be admitted into the practice include:

  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • North Carolina
  • District of Columbia
  • Tennessee
  • Washington

Can Foreign Lawyers Practice in the U.S.?
Lawyers in the U.S. complete law school, then a bar exam, and other requirements that may vary by state. Foreign-trained lawyers can practice in the U.S. after attending a bar exam from the state where they wish to practice. Popular destinations with flexible requirements are New York and California.

Tips for J.D. Students to Excel at Law School Exams

Excelling in Law school exams is a crucial step to achieving your dream of joining the legal profession in this country. Here are some conventional tips that can make you excel:

  • Always plan your work
  • Go over and beyond the reading assignments
  • Create your own outlines
  • Memorize material weekly
  • Don’t miss classes
  • Keep practicing
  • Always ask questions
  • Maintain a healthy perspective
  • Use all available resources

Tips for J.D. Graduates to Pick the Best Bar Preparation Courses

Here are some handy tips for picking the best bar preparation courses:

  • Figure out what you need to improve on
  • Make a bar preparation course comparison
  • Ask law school alumni for recommendations
  • Get referrals from your law school
  • Use trials from the bar prep-companies

The New York Bar Requirements for Foreign Lawyers

You must understand the requirements when looking to become a foreign lawyer in New York. The state’s Board of Law Examiners administers the bar exam. There are two categories of foreign-trained lawyers who can take this exam. Those who want to transfer to the U.S. legal system or those who won’t.

Transferring to the local system requires the completion of at least a three-year program focusing on English Common Law. You must obtain an Advanced Evaluation of Eligibility from the Board to sit the bar exam. Approval may take anywhere from months to a year or much longer.

Foreign-trained lawyers who want to avoid tranlasferring to the U.S. system must undertake an LLM degree to sit the bar exam.

U.S. States Which Accept Foreign Lawyers with LLM

Over 34 states allow foreign-trained attorneys to take the bar exam. However, only five jurisdictions accept foreign lawyers with LLM easily. Remember that each state still has particular requirements that you must follow.

Here are the states that easily accept foreign lawyers with LLM.

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Colorado
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Immigration Path of the Foreign-Trained Attorney

After getting the requirements to begin practicing the trade in the U.S., you must understand the career options available. Some options include:

Intellectual Property (I.P.) Lawyer

You will be responsible for interpreting laws and regulations for clients, undertaking research for preparing various documents, and communicating on their behalf. The role also includes representing clients in court. I.P. lawyer also works as advisors who counsel clients on matters regarding intellectual property.

International Trade Lawyer

The role includes focusing on the application of domestic laws during international trade and the application of treaty-based internal law regarding trade. You will settle disputes regarding business, criminal, and trade issues. Other roles include drafting legal documents and researching laws on an international level.

International Business Lawyer

You will advise, represent, and advocate for your client’s interests and to save them money. This may be through structuring the company’s business operations and facilitating the utilization of strategic business advantages.

Compliance Counsel

The role involves helping your client comply with government standards and regulations. Other roles may include tracking updates in the regulatory environment. This will save your clients fines and lawsuits for noncompliance. You are also required to ensure ethics and regulatory compliance in an organization.


Becoming a lawyer is a lucrative profession. It’s highly respected in society and is among the top-paying careers. You must meet particular requirements for someone outside the U.S. who wants to become a lawyer. These include understanding a two-year J.D. program and an LLM. You need to find a school that allows foreign-trained lawyers to sit the bar exam to begin practicing in the country.