Dual international J.D. programs gaining popularity

by Laira Martin

Dual international J.D. programs are becoming more popular, and a large percent of graduates report the degrees help them land jobs, according to data from American University Washington College of Law.

Theresa Kaiser, the director of global opportunities at the law school, surveyed graduates of her school’s dual degree program. The program allows students to earn a J.D. at American University and a J.D. equivalent degree at a law school outside of the U.S. The program is available for both American students studying abroad and foreign students studying in America.

“Even for those who end up in the U.S., they still thought it was an amazing program,” Kaiser said. “There are some fantastic outcomes. Students are able to differentiate themselves in job interviews. They are very unique candidates and they gain a native understanding of common and civil law. They’ve been able to hone in on their foreign language skills.”

A majority of graduates found employment before they graduated, and two-thirds landed full-time legal employment as their first job after graduation. Also, 90% said they believed their International JD Dual Degree experience played a role in being hired for at least one position they have held since graduation.

“The dual degree was an important component of my CV and something I highlighted in interviews,” reported one survey respondent. “It gave me a significant advantage over other French students applying for similar positions and gives me credibility in relation to my colleagues and clients.

The program at American University is still small — about 80 foreign and American students have participated since 2006. Kaiser hopes the program will grow at American University and other law schools, but thinks it may be difficult due to the complex planning required.

“They take a lot of administrative work to manage, there are lots of ABA requirements, issues with transcripts, enrollment, student services issues, admissions and financial aid,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser said a handful of U.S. schools have programs like this but hopes to see more. American University is currently one of the law schools with the most participants in this type of program and it plans to add four more similar programs. Due to more lenient requirements, Kaiser predicts an increase in dual J.D. and L.L.M foreign programs because they are much faster and easier to establish than dual foreign J.D. programs, although the latter is still more common at American University.