Making a Difference Abroad. How Practicing Law in Foreign Countries Improves Standard of Living


If you are fluent in a foreign language or have an interest in a foreign country’s culture and politics, you may have often considered taking up residence outside the United States. There are plenty of jobs abroad for expatriates with law degrees. Many of those jobs involve practicing the same type of law as would be practiced in the United States. By bringing your law expertise abroad, you can make life better for the residents of that country while you experience cultural immersion and education.

Protecting Foreign Citizens’ Civil Rights

Many people living in other countries don’t have the same basic civil rights that we have in the United States. Citizens of other countries still have to cope with racial and religious persecution, being part of a disenfranchised socio-economic class, or having fewer rights as a result of sexual orientation or gender. Your influence as a civil rights lawyer could help someone achieve freedom as we know it here in America.

Assisting Social Services and Welfare Programs

Image via Flickr by Crossroads Foundation Photos

Another problem that affects many foreign countries is poverty. Many countries don’t have welfare programs in place that can provide much-needed food, shelter, water, and jobs to people who can’t get them on their own. Poverty and lack of medical care can lead to a large orphan population in a country. Without social services, these children can’t take care of themselves. As a lawyer in another country, you’ll have the opportunity to create and enforce regulations that provide for children and families in need.

Implementing Environmental Regulations

One of the major problems affecting various third world countries is the lack of environmental regulations on water, lumber, and other natural resources. Endangered species are poached and forests are slashed and burned because these countries don’t have the laws or adequate law enforcement to stop these practices. Environmental law degrees such as those offered by Vermont Law are beneficial tools you can use to aid impoverished countries by improving their energy use, clean water uptake, and agricultural practices.

Educating Other Countries on U.S. Policy

Many of the fastest growing countries in the world (i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, and China) restrict the extent to which foreign lawyers can practice law within their borders. However, that is not enough to stop a U.S. lawyer from sharing his or her knowledge and experience with lawyers and other people in those countries. In more impoverished countries like Senegal, many people don’t even know what it means to have mandated education for children or federal regulations against corruption. Your expertise can help inspire positive change in the legal systems of these countries.

The best way to decide which country is right for your legal practice is to do research on the country and its laws. Many prestigious law firms in the United States have overseas branches that can always use lawyers who are familiar with other languages and cultures. Once you find the country that’s right for you, you can begin using your law degree toward humanitarian efforts abroad.


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