Legal Education

Top French Attorneys Need US or U.K. Legal Degree


To get a top job at a law firm in France, a law degree from a well-regarded American or British law school is virtually required.

That’s because France has no law school viewed as first-rank, so BigLaw firms looking for French lawyers view the foreign law degree as a virtual necessity, reports Bloomberg. Traditionally, the law has not been treated equally with business, government and economics in France–all three of which, unlike the law, are represented among the “Grandes Ecoles,” French institutions of higher learning that offer prestigious professional degrees to a select group. Legal education is offered at public universities that are open to a much larger pool of students.

Hence, major law firms looking for attorneys in France prefer candidates with a business or economics degree from a Grande Ecole and an American or British law degree, says Renaud Bonnet, who serves as recruiting partner for the Jones Day office in Paris. “It’s no longer enough to just do law school.”

Many in France also see a need for more elite legal education there, and are promoting changes in the current system. “The legal profession is ascendant,” says Louis Vogel, the Yale University-trained president of France’s oldest law school. But for French attorneys to compete successfully with American and British lawyers, he says, “It is absolutely necessary to have a Grande Ecole of law.”

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