Officially called the Swiss Federation, Switzerland lies in western Europe and is bordered by Italy to the west, Germany to the north, Liechtenstein and Austria to the east and France to the west. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, a landlocked country that consists of 26 cantons, or territorial subdivisions that differ slightly in administration procedures. The majority of Switzerland's population (nearly eight million people) live on an area referred to as the "Plateau", where the heavily populated cities of Geneva and Zurich are located.
Switzerland is famous for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Residents possess the highest amount of non-financial and monetary assets per individual as compared to any other citizens in the world. Additionally, Geneva and Zurich consistently rank as two cities exhibiting the best standards of living among all other global cities. Switzerland's stable economy is attributed to its self-sufficiency through farming and effective manufacturing practices that allow it to export large amounts of goods. Other areas that Switzerland shows excellent economic expertise include tourism, international banking, transportation, biotechnology and research and development.
Centrally located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is celebrated for its efficiency and productivity, not to mention its stunning geography and rich history of neutrality. With three native languages, German, French and Italian, along with an abundance of English speaking study opportunities, Switzerland is a premiere destination for international students.
Switzerland’s Law System
Based on the tradition of civil law, Switzerland has a statute-based legal system which is independent of all other government branches. All law-making power lies with the country’s 26 states, known as cantons, except when expressly stated by its Constitution as belonging to the federal authorities. Federalism remains a fundamental component of the Swiss legal system.
Study Law in Switzerland
Law Degrees in Switzerland
In order to become a lawyer in Switzerland, students must complete a three-year Bachelor of Law (LLB). However, in order to be admitted to the bar and enter practice, a subsequent two-year Master of Laws is also required.
An alternate option which is popular with many international students is the shorter and specialized LLM, which offers the opportunity to gain targeted knowledge in one particular area of the law, such as arbitration or banking law. It is also possible to pursue a PhD in law following the completion of the LLB, Master of Law and/or Professional LLM.
Graduates must also complete a one to two year apprenticeship with a law firm or court -- preferably in the canton in which they plan to practice -- and pass a written and oral examination administered at the conclusion of their training in order to be admitted to the bar.
Law Higher Education in Switzerland
Switzerland has no private institutions for training lawyers: all nine law schools are affiliated with the country’s cantonal universities. These include University of Lausanne, University of Basel, University of Bern, University of Fribourg, University of Geneva, University of Lucerne, University of Neuchâtel, University of St. Gallen and University of Zurich.
Because Switzerland is the home of innumerable international organizations and banking institutions, and due to its status as the birthplace of significant progress in many areas of humanitarian concern as well as business and banking, Switzerland provides students from all over the world with a new and comprehensive global perspective. Furthermore, the country's commitment to cutting edge research offers international students a more profound understanding of legal global affairs.
While the cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high, tuition fees are relatively low -- particularly when compared to the U.S. and the U.K. Additionally, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available for international students. Once again, tuition fees may vary from one institution to the other.
Because of its global prominence in business and finance, there are plenty of career opportunities for lawyers in Switzerland, particularly within primary sectors, such as banking, finance and intellectual property rights.