Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
The United States is a nation of laws, not of men. This simple statement, pre-eminent among the founders of the nation as well as all statesmen since, refers to the USA as ruled by a set of laws that apply to everyone – not by the whims or desires of the powerful. This “rule of law” is not easy to define and is often under attack, as power and privilege will try to get its way. But as a guiding national principle, there is none stronger or more influential in the USA, and lawyers are in many ways the guardians of this national mindset.
The practice of law in the United States has a proud history, integral to the founding of the nation and maintaining the rule of law, and many lawyers and law students from around the world want to study or practice law in the United States. The legal profession is largely self-regulated, as each state has a “Bar” that sets the rules for the practice of law in that state. One important function of each state Bar is to provide a licensing structure that determines who is and is not allowed to practice law in that state, including non-US citizens. In this Study Law guide, we describe the overall legal system in the USA, as well as provide practical guidance for foreign education lawyers and international students that want to study law or practice law in the USA.