While the commitment to one school and its law program is immense, choosing to enroll in a summer abroad and externship could be the decision that changes the trajectory of your future. If your school doesn’t offer exchange programs through its law school, Santa Clara University School of Law’s Summer Abroad program could be exactly what you’re looking for. As an ABA- accredited law school program, we offer study and externship opportunities that are eligible for transfer credit, with locations like Tokyo, Geneva, Singapore, and Costa Rica available to our accepted students. If you’re considering the Santa Clara Law Study Abroad summer, take a look at the checklist below to help you make a better-informed decision.

Reflect on why you want to study abroad in law school

In law school, students spend three to four years strengthening their analytical skills and gaining experience in the field of law, but often, they do so without ever leaving their school’s city or state. Studying abroad, meanwhile, presents students with the opportunity to learn and live among professional attorneys in a completely different context, applying academic knowledge to real-life circumstances on a global scale. Students spend seven weeks working in accredited offices in countries all over the world, gaining exposure, making friends, and learning skills they may never have seen in their law classes at home.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Costa Rica

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Costa Rica. Photo by McKenna Vanderveen.

Check with your school’s student office about credit transfers

If the opportunity to study and work in another country through Santa Clara Law appeals to you, set up an appointment with your dean or advisor and ask about transfer credits. Because SCU is ABA-accredited, most other law schools accept these programs as credit on their students’ transcripts, but they may have individual requirements or transfer equivalents that deviate from the standard.

Check with the financial aid office about scholarship and grant money

Likewise, if you have a scholarship or grant to your current law school, check and see if the financial support applies to a study abroad program or externship through Santa Clara Law. Most schools support external work opportunities that bolster your law school experiences, but you should be certain that the financial aid available meets your needs before applying or accepting any positions through the study abroad program.

Choose a program that meets your interests

Once you have lined up all of the logistics for a summer abroad program, take a look at our extensive list of opportunities on our Study Abroad webpage. We offer programs ranging from Japanese Patent Law in Tokyo to International Criminal Law in Practice at The Hague and Forced Migration Law and International Environmental Law in Sydney. Other countries include those listed above, as well as additional programs in Oxford and Shanghai.

Tips for making your law study abroad count
Law school is hard work, and success often means spending hours in the library each semester. However, there are tangible and intangible benefits to spending a summer abroad. Aside from the fun of spending time soaking in a foreign culture, study abroad can be an unparalleled learning and networking opportunity. Professors and other academics you meet may be the key to that next great opportunity. In addition, studying abroad is an opportunity to meet students you may work with in the future. Finally, there’s just the pure pleasure of exploring someplace new. It may not always be roses, but it definitely beats hunkering down in the law library.

Santa Clara Law Summer Abroad in The Hague

Santa Clara Law Summer Abroad in The Hague

Open future career opportunities

If you are passionate about international law, you need to spend time overseas, and the value of studying and externing abroad extends far beyond what you learn in class. Your professors and other advisors are likely practicing lawyers and have their finger on the pulse of the local job market. Perform well in class, and you may find yourself with a great advocate if you want to pursue local opportunities. Be sure to stay in contact after your program ends and periodically follow up with these contacts. Highlight that you are a student at SCU; you may be surprised how much weight that name carries with the international law community.

Meet like-minded students

Your international network is not limited just to academics. Odds are you will be taking courses with a large number of study-abroad students that you will work closely with throughout your law school career. These classmates are also part of your network; like you, they are also passionate about international law. Santa Clara Law study abroad students come from law schools all across the U.S. A few years down the road, those same classmates may be working with you on a big project or perhaps hiring for your dream employer.

Have fun

Aside from networking, there is just the pure fun of studying abroad. You still will have class, but be sure to enjoy every minute of your semester. From the shores of Lake Geneva to the foothills of Mount Fuji, there are incredible opportunities to study abroad. The food, the culture, and the scenery all contribute to a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about foreign legal systems. If you want to practice international law, studying abroad is the best way to develop the knowledge base and cultural IQ to succeed in your future career.