Harvard Law School has exchange agreements with this select group of 10 foreign schools. Each of these law schools reserves a designated number of places for HLS students to spend a semester abroad, subject to acceptance by the foreign school.
Admission to these schools under these exchange agreements begins with the HLS application process. As such, each student will need to gain approval from both the HLS Study Abroad Committee and the host institution.
HLS also has a joint degree program with the University of Cambridge that involves spending a year in the United Kingdom reading for an LL.M. degree.
Independent Semester Abroad
The semester abroad program does not limit students’ options to a specific school or country. According to the American Bar Association criteria, “the foreign institution will generally be one that is government sanctioned or recognized, if educational institutions are state regulated within the country; recognized or approved by an evaluation body, if such an agency exists within the country; or chartered to award degrees in law by the appropriate authority within the country” (ABA Criteria Section I.C.1.). In addition, the school should be one that is generally viewed as offering one of the top law programs in its country or geographic region. HLS students may not enroll in programs of U.S. schools given abroad, or in programs designed expressly for American students or for students from countries other than that in which the school is located.
In the past, HLS students have studied abroad for a semester at:
- University of Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
- University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia)
- University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia)
- University of the West Indies (Bridgetown, Barbados)
- Université Libre de Bruxelles (Brussels, Belgium)
- University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)
- Pontifica Universidad Católica (Santiago, Chile)
- Peking University (Beijing, China)
- Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)
- University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China)
- Jiao Tong University (Shanghai, China)
- University of Los Andes (Bogota, Colombia)
- Queen Mary, University of London (London, England)
- School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (London, England)
- University of Ghana (Accra, Ghana)
- Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel)
- Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv, Israel)
- Università degli Studi di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
- Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (Rome, Italy)
- Keio University (Tokyo, Japan)
- University of Leiden (Leiden, The Netherlands)
- Vrije University (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
- National University of Singapore (Singapore)
- University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa)
- Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, Spain)
- ESADE Law School – University Ramon Llull (Barcelona, Spain)
- Universidad Pontifica Comillas (Madrid, Spain)
- University of Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)
In order to identify an appropriate school for a semester abroad, students are encouraged to read other students’ evaluations of past semesters abroad; to obtain names and contact information, please email the International Legal Studies office. Also, many HLS faculty members, LL.M. and S.J.D. students have contacts at foreign law schools and are willing to make suggestions to J.D. students contemplating study abroad.
- Hieros Gamos: a worldwide legal directory that provides information on foreign law schools and foreign legal systems
- U.S. Department of State: a country-by-country resource guide
- Library of Congress: country studies and global legal information network
- ABA Study Abroad: outlines general requirements for study abroad credit
- Harvard Law Library: International, Foreign, and Comparative Law Research Guides
Students who are considering how a semester abroad might fit in with a job search can contact Marjorie Lichtenberger in the Office of Career Services and/or Alexa Shabecoff or Catherine Pattanayak in the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising. Advisors from OCS and OPIA are also able to counsel students by phone, email or Skype during their semester abroad.
Travel Advisories and Program Change or Cancellation
Students should be sure to review the U.S. State Department information sheets prior to participation in their semester abroad program. HLS will advise students of any changes in the safety of the country or travel warnings either prior to or during the semester in question.
Should there be any significant changes to a semester abroad program that HLS determines would significantly diminish its quality, or in the unlikely event that the program is cancelled, students will be allowed to modify their plans. If such changes occur in advance of the intended semester abroad, students will be able to remain at HLS without penalty or possibly make alternate study abroad arrangements. If such changes occur during the semester abroad, students should speak with Sara Zucker about possibilities for alternate arrangements.
Foreign Law School Experience
HLS students often encounter striking differences between their experience at HLS and at a foreign law school. These may include different pedagogical methods both within the classroom and in terms of how students research, write, and prepare for classes and exams. University facilities such as housing, libraries, athletic facilities and computers may differ in quantity and quality. The administrative processes at a foreign law school may be quite different than those to which HLS students are accustomed.
Students should be prepared to take initiative in orienting themselves, and allow plenty of time to deal with unexpected administrative challenges or delays. Unlike at HLS, the student body can often be composed of both students working toward their first degree (the equivalent of a bachelor’s) and graduate students. At some schools, the majority of students commute rather than living on or near campus. Social and legal norms may be quite unlike those in the United States or other places where students have lived or studied.
While the differences between a semester at HLS and one at a foreign law school can be striking and occasionally difficult to negotiate, study abroad participants consistently report that the experience broadens their horizons in a variety of ways. They recommend a combination of advance preparation and openness to the new experience of a semester abroad.