It’s nothing new for parents to encourage their children to become doctors and lawyers – these are respectable professions that have long been associated with prestige and an enviable paycheck. A criminal justice masters degree has become one of the most popular because of this. And if current statistics are any indication, this is a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Despite worldwide financial doldrums, lawyers are still earning top wages in many parts of the world. In the US, where the job market is currently less than robust, lawyers are still in the top-six in terms of annual earnings. This is according to data reported by the Bureau of Labor statistics in 2012.
From an Asian perspective, a law degree promises to be more profitable now than ever before. Recently developed nations in the East have solidified their role as major global players in terms of business, finance and politics. The more these nations interact with foreign corporations and governments, the greater their domestic need for highly qualified legal representation. Ideally, these legal consultants will have robust networks both in Asia and abroad.
With this in mind, there has never been a better time for Asian students to earn Western legal credentials before returning home to practice. Consider some of the following hot-button issues that illustrate the need in Asia for foreign-educated lawyers with broad cultural sensibilities:
Intellectual property rights
Nothing illustrates the importance of international property rights more succinctly than the recent legal battle between American Apple Inc. and South Korean Samsung. These ultra-successful multinational companies are headquartered in opposite hemispheres and sell mobile devices around the world.
Holding proprietary rights to intellectual property is not a new idea, but it is certainly taking on new dimensions in this international, digital age. Lawyers with a foot in both Eastern and Western hemispheres and an in-depth understanding of global intellectual property rights are going to be in increasingly high demand in the coming decades.
Ethics of healthcare
Not so long ago, healthcare rights and regulations were more of a national issue than anything else. An injured person might receive some sort of healthcare service when traveling overseas on holiday or business, but this was the exception rather than the rule.
Today, patients are making a point of taking ‘healthcare holidays’ – seeking discount medical treatment through global medical tourism hubs. Many of these medical tourist destinations are located in Asia, and they are finding that an influx of foreign patients introduces the need for more comprehensive legal coverage and protection.
Around the world, large corporations regularly turn to foreign-based lawyers for outsourced services. Last year, The New York Times reported on a developing trend in which firms in India were actually outsourcing some of their work to recently graduated lawyers in the US. This was newsworthy because, just a few years ago, jobs of this nature rarely moved in a West-to-East direction.
But this emerging trend illustrates a different point altogether. Legal firms in parts of Asia are growing beyond their staffing capabilities. LL.M. degree holders who hail from Asia and have well-established networks in the West will be in an ideal position to take on leadership positions as these legal firms continue looking to foreign markets.
The following are some of the leading law schools for Asian students:
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON LAW CENTER
The University of Houston Law Center is a tier-one law school in the US, and it has earned a leading reputation among international students of law. The Law Center is attractive to Asian students for many reasons, not least of which is its Summer LL.M. Program, which allows internationally educated lawyers to earn a US law degree in as little as six months. The Law Center’s specialty programs are its strong suit. Three out of six have earned top-ten recognition by US News & World Report. Read the full profile here…
NOTTINGHAM LAW SCHOOL
One of the largest UK law schools, Nottingham Law School operates out of Nottingham Trent University. The school offers a variety of LL.M. and LL.B. degrees, many of which are particularly well-suited for students with international career aspirations. Nottingham Law School has achieved an ‘Excellent’ top rating by the UK’s Law Society. It offers a dozen specialization tracks. Many of these are specifically designed for the international stage for students who aspire to practice law in the greater European Union. Law programs for insolvency and international criminal justice are particularly well-rated. Read the full profile here…
UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER, SCHOOL OF LAW
Established in 1872, University of Manchester’s School of Law is one of the most distinguished in the UK. It has a worldwide reputation for legal teaching and research and is sponsored by top international law firms in London. Included in this list is the Legal Advice Centre, which connects students with experience-building pro bono legal projects. The School of Law maintains links with overseas organizations and operates a vibrant student exchange program with universities in Australia, Europe and the US. Students from Asia who earn their law credentials here at the University of Manchester tap into this international network to further their careers. Read the full profile here…
UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW SCHOOL OF LAW
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, the School of Law has over 1,000 students and boasts a long list of distinguished alumni. The school is a top performer according to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), with more than half of the research conducted here rated as ‘internationally excellent’ (three- or four-star). This is one of Scotland’s leading law schools, and it offers Asian students powerful inroads into the European market.
LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL
This Los Angeles based university was established in the 1920s and presides over an attractive campus designed by famous architect Frank Gehry. Graduates have a reputation for excelling at the California State Bar Exam, with 84 percent of first-time test-takers passing in 2010 – placing the school 9 percentage points ahead of the statewide average. California is a dynamic and international place with thriving Asian communities and strong links to overseas markets.
MONASH UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF LAW
This Australian law school is in an excellent position for students in Asia. It is one of the largest and most prestigious law schools in Australia and enjoys strong ties to Europe and North America. But location aside, one of the strongest selling points for Monash’s Faculty of Law is its worldwide standing. Recent QS World University Rankings placed it 20th in the world, making this a leading contender for law students regardless of where they are based.