My last day at X & Tips on How to Work Abroad as a U.S. Law Student!

Sadly, my internship has ended. I learned so much about EU law and how countries handle the application of both EU and their own laws. It’s an area I am definitely interested in pursuing and I am even more eager for my EU law course I am taking in the Spring!

I also find myself looking back on how blessed I am to have landed an internship here with so many incredible people. I was nervous as I mentioned in my first post on my internship, but there was nothing to fear. I have been welcomed, embraced even. People come to me with questions, and answer my numerous questions without an inkling of irritation. It’s a different atmosphere than many other firms with competitive natures. Here, everyone is comfortable in themselves and what they offer so there is no need for that tension. I have already discussed returning and what I should focus on to make that a reality.

So, do you want to work overseas at a law firm? Here’s what I did that might help you:

1.) First thing is your resume. Submit it to your career services office for a second read. I did this several times until it was the best it could be. Resumes for law firms focus on different things than other jobs so I really recommend having your law school help you with it.

2.) Find a firm. Chambers Global has a list of firms in tons of countries with their focus, websites, lawyers, and e-mails. This is where I went once I decided upon Bulgaria. I scrolled through and e-mailed nearly every firm on the list. I probably e-mailed close to 100 firms overall and got some replies but only a few offers. So believe me, it takes WORK. Embassies also list a lot of firms, but they might not be as great as the ones awarded in CG. Do your research!

3.) Are you a first year? Focus on smaller countries! They don’t get a lot of U.S. applicants so you won’t have nearly any competition from other U.S. students, just their selection pool of locals and you will obviously stand out. A second year? Try larger countries like Germany, Austria or France! You will have more competition but you have experience now and these powerhouses will stand out on your resume.

4.) Draft a short e-mail introducing yourself, why you will be a good option, and why you’re choosing their country and more importantly, their firm. I focused on my excellent writing skills and while I didn’t speak Bulgarian, I was a law student with native English skills who would benefit them in reaching out to other firms for networking. I could proofread their contracts and anything else they needed. This got me the interest of larger firms who do a lot of networking in English. My email was about 5 sentences. Short and quick to read. Time is money, don’t send them an essay until they ask for it. 😉

5.) You will likely need a writing sample. Take your open memo and make ALL the corrections your teacher has written on it. Take your Bluebook and review every citation. Then, ask your teacher if she will review it again. Or ask a TA, or maybe someone from the Law Review. If they can’t do the whole thing, ask them for the Argument section. It’s important to submit the best writing you can. Do not submit crap writing because you think nobody in a foreign country will notice it stinks. They will notice, and worse, they will remember.

6.) Realize if this will help your career or hinder it. I want to do EU law, so working in the EU is great for me. But, if you want to litigate in the U.S. … then find a clerkship, find a U.S. law firm. Working overseas is great but don’t waste a summer that could improve your career. You have 2 summers to gain experience if you’re a full time day student. You can travel Europe another time, on vacation. Pick your internships VERY carefully. You will be asked about them and you should be able to explain why you chose that place and what you did and learned. You don’t want to say well, I want to do immigration law but I worked at a tax firm in Germany because… I wanted to see Europe… you can imagine how a partner is going to react to that.

And those are the most important tips I can think of at the moment. Let me know if you want to see more posts on this topic! I am more than willing to share everything I’ve done and what worked and didn’t!

xx,

A.

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