A law school without tuition fees with a starting salary of €30,000? This is how future lawyers stand in 9 countries

The costs and benefits of a law degree vary widely worldwide.

In the Netherlands, the costs strongly depend on your nationality, France has hardly any costs and in the United States you have to pay tens of thousands of euros per year. However, there is a higher salary.

Business Insider journalists from multiple countries compared the training, costs, salaries and job opportunities for future lawyers.

Curious about where you are best off as a starting lawyer? Check out our comparison below.

Note: Currency conversions were made as of the date of publication and salaries are on an annualized basis.

The Netherlands

How long does the training process take? To be considered a lawyer, which is not a protected title in the Netherlands, you must complete a three-year bachelor’s degree and a one-year master’s degree.

Anyone who wants to work as a lawyer must also follow a two-year professional training for lawyers (BA). After university education, alumni can register in the National Lawyers Tableau (LAT). This registration will only be final after completing the BA.

Salary for recent graduates: On average, starting lawyers earn around 34,000 euros. Specialist lawyers, such as lawyers, can count on an average of 72,000 euros, according to Glassdoor. With a senior position at a leading company you can earn more than 100,000 euros.

Study costs: Dutch universities use two types of tuition fees: a statutory and an institution-dependent one. The amount you have to pay depends on your nationality and whether you have already obtained a previous diploma at a Dutch higher education institution. Dutch students and students from an EU/EEA member state, Switzerland or Suriname are eligible for the statutory tuition fee of 2,143 euros per year.

Students of other nationalities must pay the higher institution-dependent tuition fees. These vary from 6,000-15,000 euros per year for bachelor’s programs and from 8,000-20,000 euros per year for master’s programmes.

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These higher costs also apply to students who, regardless of their nationality, want to start a second bachelor’s or master’s degree after having already completed a similar study program at a Dutch higher education institution.

In addition to the above-mentioned training costs, students who want to become a lawyer also pay an additional 11,434 euros (excluding VAT) for the necessary professional training.

Job opportunities: 70 percent of graduates indicate that they have found a job at the right level within 1.5 years after graduation. Most alumni started working as specialist lawyers.This is followed by a three-year training to become a juris doctor, the highest professional degree in law.

Also, lawyers must pass a licensing exam for each state they wish to work in and must continue training each year in most jurisdictions.

Graduate Salary: Newcomers to top companies can expect a starting salary of $160,000 ($190,000) and an annual pay increase of $8,500 to $13,000 ($10,000 to $15,000). They also receive an average bonus of 13,000 to 17,000 euros (15,000 to 20,000 dollars).

Because companies compete for the same talent pool, most of these top salaries are standardized. Starting lawyers who do not end up at the top companies earn an average of 61,000 euros ($72,500).

Tuition costs: 22,000 to 34,000 euros (26,000 to 40,000 dollars) per year for a public school, 36,000 euros (43,000 dollars) per year for a private school and up to 52,000 euros (61,000 dollars) per year for a top school.

Job opportunities: In 2019, 74 percent of graduates said they found a suitable job within ten months of graduation. Most of them started as self-employed. Others ended up in business, government or the military, among others.

However, the corona pandemic has increased unemployment among lawyers. In December 2020 it was 2.3 percent; a year earlier this was still 0.6 percent. Top Universities according to US News Rankings:

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  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • —Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Chicago
  • New York University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Virginia
  • Northwestern University
  • University of California, Berkeley

-Samantha Stokes, Insider


How long does the training process take? A bachelor’s degree lasts four years. Next, you must complete vocational training (PLT), be admitted to the local authority in a state or territory, and apply for a license. All in all, this will take five to six years.

New Graduate Salaries: Beginning lawyers at medium-sized companies earn a salary between 39,000 and 42,000 euros (60,000 to 65,000 AUD). At the top companies, this is between 45,000 and 51,000 euros (70,000-80,000 AUD).

Study costs: Between 10,000 and 21,000 euros (15,000 to 33,000 AUD).

Job Opportunities: Although there is strong competition among graduates, the chances of finding a job in the sector are still relatively high.The two-year master’s program costs 243 euros. Students do not pay tuition fees.

Job Opportunities: Research from 2019 shows that 76 percent of law students found a job within six months of graduation. Within a year, this was achieved 88 percent.

Top Universities: There is no official ranking of French law studies, but the most renowned universities are the Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Panthéon Assas in Paris.

The following universities are also well regarded: Strasbourg, Lorraine, Paris-Saclay, Nantes, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse 1 – Capitole and Montpellier.

-Business Insider France

How long does the training process take? A bachelor’s degree lasts four years. After that, to gain entry to the professional association, you must complete a two-year study program at the Ghana Law School (GLS).

After completing their education, alumni are apprenticed for six months to a year.

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Graduate Salaries: Most law firms pay their students between $100 to $140 ($120 to $170) a month. At top companies this varies from 430 to 575 euros (510 to 680 dollars).

Most Ghanaian companies work with a commission system. The student or starting lawyer, who works together with an experienced colleague, can count on approximately 5 percent commission on a case or document.

Senior lawyers can ultimately earn between 17,500 to 57,500 euros (20,700 to 68,000 dollars) per year at reputable companies.

Study costs: Around 690 euros (820 dollars) for a public university and about 7,250 euros (8.580 dollars) for a private university. The latter offers more flexible programs, so students can also opt for weekend, evening or long-distance classes.

The GLS costs just under 2,200 euros ($2,588) per academic year.

Job Opportunities: Many law graduates who have not attended GLS cannot be admitted to the professional association and often work as legal assistants. Law alumni can also end up in other sectors, such as politics.

Employment data for lawyers in Ghana was not available at the time of publication.

Top Universities in Ghana:

  • University of Ghana
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
  • Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
  • Mountcrest University College
  • University of Professional Studies, Accra
  • University of Cape Coast
  • Wisconsin International University
  • —Central University
  • Kings University College

-Victor Oluwole and Magdalene Teiko Larnyoh, Business Insider Africa

How long does the training process take? An Italian law study lasts five years.The trajectory ends with a final exam that takes place once a year, usually in December.

All in all, the entire process could take up to seven years.

Salary for recent graduates: One year after obtaining a law degree, the net annual salary is on average 13,176 euros. This rises to EUR 15,348 after three years and to EUR 16,728 after five years.

Read more: In these 51 careers in healthcare and life sciences with a very good job opportunity you can earn €3,000 to €4,000 per month.

Study costs: A public university costs between 151 and 2,531 euros per year, depending on the family income. Students who choose a university in another city pay extra for accommodation.

The cost of a private university varies from 5,000 to 12,000 euros per year and also depends on the family income.

Job opportunities: Five years after graduating, just under 72 percent of graduates have a job. Just under half of them are self-employed, the rest have a permanent contract.

Top Universities according to Censis:

  • Piemonte Orientale
  • Trento
  • Milano Bicocca
  • Bologna
  • Genoa
  • Modena e Reggio Emilia
  • Insubria
  • Firenze
  • Perugia

-Business Insider Italy

How long does the training process take? Most university law studies last about 4.5 years. A professional license is required to be able to work after the training. This can be obtained with a thesis or a general exam. Salary for recent graduates: The average starting salary is 6,000 euros per year (146,880 pesos).

Study costs: At the National Autonomous University of Mexico you only pay the symbolic amount of 0.04 cents (1 peso) per year. The entrance test costs 16 euros (400 pesos). At other universities you pay more, such as at Tec de Monterrey. There, a law degree costs just under 45,000 euros (1.1 million pesos).

Job Opportunities: The employment rate for lawyers was 94.8 percent in 2020.

Top universities according to the ranking of the newspaper El Universal:

  • Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)
  • Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
  • University of Las Americas Puebla
  • UNAM- Aragon
  • Universidad Iberoamericana
  • Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO)
  • UNAM – Acatlan
  • Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla
  • University of Guadalajara

-Liliana Corona, Business Insider Mexico

How long does the training process take? A bachelor’s degree lasts five years.For a private university you pay 2,815 euros (3,324 dollars).

The master’s program costs on average 666 euros (787 dollars). This includes other costs for textbooks and the training costs for admission to the professional association.

Job Opportunities: There is strong competition for high paying jobs in Nigeria. Therefore, many recent graduates settle for jobs in one of the smaller companies, many of which can be found in Nigeria.

Employment data for lawyers in Nigeria was not available at the time of publication.

Top Universities According to Nigerian Infopedia:

  • University of Illinois
  • University of Lagos, UNILAG
  • University of Ibadan, UI
  • University of Nigeria, NNSUKA
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU
  • University of Jos, Jos
  • University of Benin, Edo State
  • Lagos State University, Lagos
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • Babcock University, Ogun State

-Victor Oluwole and Magdalene Teiko Larnyoh, Business Insider Africa

How long does the training process take? All in all, about five to six years. This includes a four-year bachelor’s degree, a necessary 1.5-year master’s degree and an internship in a legal firm or in a company’s legal department.

Future lawyers must also pass an aptitude test, which is administered annually by the Ministry of Justice.

Salary for recent graduates: A first-year lawyer in the private sector can count on a salary of 14,400 to 18,000 euros per year, according to the European University in Madrid.

After two years, this amount grows to about 24,000 to 36,000 euros. Lawyers with more than ten years of experience can earn up to 120,000 euros at a top company.

Lawyers in the public sector have to pass competitive exams and can earn between 50,000 to 60,000 euros per year.

Study costs: A total of 4,800 to 6,000 euros for a bachelor’s degree at a public university. At private universities, the costs can be considerably higher, up to 11,500 euros per year.

The cost of a master’s degree also depends on the institution. Public universities cost between 2,000 to 6,000 per year. The upper limit of private universities is around 32,000 euros per year.

Job Opportunities: According to studies at Spanish universities, it takes on average three to six months for recent graduates to find their first job.

About 80 percent find a job at a high level. A large proportion of them work as lawyers in the public sector (26 percent) or in the banking and insurance world (14 percent).

Author: Jobly