Op-Ed: Why You Should Study Abroad

by Carrie Field, Deputy Director of International Exchange

Greetings Campus Community from your Deputy Director of International Exchange. Over the next few issues of Pro Se, I hope to share with you a number of the skills I found most necessary during my 6 years as a municipal finance associate at a law firm and how such skills can be honed, developed, and uniquely improved through an international exchange experience.

Go Global
How international education can diversify your legal thinking

The first skill to thriving in any legal career is to be a good practitioner. This entails a number of factors including a solid legal educational foundation, an ability to solve problems, an ability to write competently, and the ability to navigate and ultimately fulfill the expectations placed on an associate. Partaking in a global educational experience will contribute to success in each of these areas.

An international legal educational experience widens the depth of knowledge students bring to the table as an associate. Studying at a law school outside of the U.S. allows you to build your knowledge of laws that are based on different cultural foundations. While at UConn Law, you focus primarily on the underlying assumptions and legal traditions of U.S. law – federal and state. Studying in England, Holland, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, Israel or some other country will offer you the unique ability to learn the underlying assumptions and legal traditions in other places. Additionally, you will be exposed to different cultural practices that will enhance your understanding of the legal processes. This will broaden your perspective as a practitioner, making you a more valuable asset to a firm.

An international experience broadens students’ problem-solving skills by exposing students to culturally diverse perspectives on legal issues. Increased life perspectives diversify your approach to problem solving, which makes you a more valuable asset to a firm. Many of our exchange programs offer comparative law courses focused on the legal systems of the host country but also on the U.S. and other international countries. Your background will be enhanced by being asked to articulate the legal thinking that exists pertaining to U.S. laws, which will strengthen your creative problem-solving skills when confronting conflicts among cases. Whether you plan to practice in a corporate setting or litigation, thinking outside of the box will help you get noticed.

An international legal experience will build your writing skills as you present material to non-native English readers and, in certain programs, improve your writing in a second language. As an associate you will be asked to write legal research memos, present the law to groups of attorneys, and advocate on behalf of clients. Gaining experience in writing and presenting in an international setting will not only broaden your intellectual depth but will advance your ability to write clear, concise, well-organized briefs and contracts in plain language.

Aside from the academic growth, which is the basis of an international exchange experience, it is also an opportunity you may never have time for again. To live in another country, attend a foreign law school and be exposed to legal thought processes that are based in cultural norms wholly different from those norms in the U.S. is an opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored without significant thought.

Stay tuned for the next installment – how going global can improve your marketing strategy.