Dear Mentor:

If I study law in the US, can I practice law in India?

I am in the United States pursuing my undergraduate [Bachelor's] degree. If I get my law degree here in the US, will it be recognized in India and can I practice law in India later if I decide to come back to India? Or, is it invalid? Or, do I have to do another degree in India to be able to practice there?

Studying Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Dear Studying Law:

Let us think through this together. The issue of whether a law degree from the US is recognized or valid in India is a secondary issue to the knowledge of law you would have acquired. The more relevant question is whether you would have adequate knowledge to practice law in India, regardless of whether or not you are permitted to practice law in India.

As you know, the laws vary across cities and states - sometimes dramatically - within a country, let alone across countries. It is precisely due to this variation that there is no such thing in the US as a license to practice law in the US. You have to obtain a license to practice law in a particular state in the US.

The first law degree in the US is a 3-year program called JD (Juris Doctor or Doctor of Jurisprudence). Your training in the law is for the laws and legal practices in the US. It is true that you would learn some international law, but that does not address the laws and legal practices within India. Effectively, you would have zero knowledge of the laws and legal practices in India by doing the JD in the US.

You should choose where you wish to practice law first and then pursue the law education in that country, and not the other way around. This advice applies rather uniquely to the area of law, and it also applies to a great extent to the field of accounting.

You may also wish to visit: Which law schools abroad offer financial aid? This column has information that you may find relevant.

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