Ke Wan, a Chinese student who earned his master of law degree at the University of Pennsylvania, says studying in the United States was his only option once he had chosen his career. "I want to do intellectual property law. You know it is very important," he says. But he notes, "It is not so well developed in China, so the best place to study is of course the United States."
Ke Wan says international students in the United States can learn a lot about the subject they are pursuing, however, they also bring an international perspective to a subject, which can be beneficial to American students. "Here in law school you learn a lot not only from the faculty, but also from talking with your classmates." While he notes that the vast majority of those students are American, Ke Wan says, "I think the input of international students make the class more interesting and sometimes can provide different perspectives on a specific legal issue."
As an example, Ke Wan cites the issue of patent misuse. "Patent misuse has some connection with human rights," he says. "If American student talks about patent misuse, he may just mention human rights in America or just nearby. But an international student from Asia or Europe or Africa may mention the pharmaceutical misuse and how expensive the drugs are in their home country and how the poor people cannot afford it…. I think that is a major benefit to the school and the students."
Ke Wan says a major difference between China and American law schools is here in the United States students have the opportunity to network with practicing lawyers. "China's law school is basically academic. You just stay in classroom, take notes and study. American law schools have more connections with society, with the bar association, with the lawyers association and also with other entrepreneurs, or other associations," he says. "So you have a lot of opportunities to meet a lot of people, and you can get some practice in introducing yourself and with your social skills, and you need to get use to that. If I stayed in China I might spend years just to get use to this kind of reception, but here as soon as I got here and started getting involved I felt quite comfortable with it."
Ke Wan says he wants to share a bit of advice with other international students who are thinking about studying law in the U.S. "Actually, I have to admit that it is very competitive and very difficult to get into the 7 top law schools. It is very expensive and you have to stand out above your peers," he says. "You have to spend a lot of time not only studying law, but also studying English. You have to get a real good score on TOFEL Test. More and more young students want to apply to American law schools so it is a very tough process and you have to show something different."
After a lot of hard work and determination, Ke Wan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania this past May. He is now preparing for the bar exam. "I am going to take the bar exam in later July, and I think after that I would like to do some internship in the U.S. before I go back to China," he says. "I will focus on intellectual property law, hopefully copyright and trademark and some patent work. I hope these kinds of careers can provide me with a very good foundation in China or in the U.S."