LLM GUIDE Article Latests Articles Sun, 22 Jul 2018 12:15:11 +0200 <![CDATA[Five Ways to Use the Summer to Prepare for Your LL.M.]]> For many incoming LL.M. students, the application process can be difficult. Preparing transcripts, writing personal statements, securing recommendation letters; not to mention waiting for the final decisions.

But you’ve gotten into to an LL.M. program now and have a whole summer before you start. What now? Should you read books, or work on your English-language skills? Or just hit the beach?

Turns out a good combination of the above is probably the best approach. You want to be well-prepared for your LL.M., but also refreshed and ready to hit the ground in the fall.

Here are five ways you can use the summer before your LL.M.

1. Enrol in a summer law program

If you’re not completely confident with your legal English, or just want to brush up on your basic law skills, you might consider enrolling in a summer law program. These programs are offered by law schools all over the world and many are designed specifically for incoming LL.M. students.

UPenn Quad.Although many of these programs are optional, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the pre-LL.M. summer program is compulsory. 

“I think we’re a bit of an outlier here,” says Elise Kraemer, Executive Director of Graduate Programs at Penn Law. “We have a mandatory five-week summer program that all of our LL.M.s need to do. It’s a five-credit program, so they’re doing five weeks of intensive study in foundations in US law and US legal writing and research.”

“The programs also help students ease-in socially over the summer,” says Kraemer.

Knowing there’s a compulsory pre-LL.M. program means students can rest easy beforehand, and focus on the practicalities of preparing for an LL.M. rather than trying to cram in extra study.

“We really don’t recommend or require anything prior to the summer program,” says Kraemer.

This pre-LL.M. program sets students in good stead for the demands of legal study. “Once they go into the fall classes,” says Kraemer, “they don’t have any additional requirements and they take all their classes with the JDs.”

However, if English is not your native language, you may want to give your language skills some attention over the summer.

“Our admission is not conditional,” says Kraemer, “so we admit people based on their English language skills at the time of admission. That being said, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your English, especially if you don’t use English day-to-day.”

Incoming LL.M. students at Fordham University School of Law can pursue the Fordham Law Summer Institute, which is “a three-week survey of different topics within US law,” says Toni Jaeger-Fine, assistant dean for international programs. 

The school also offers a semester-long version of the program called the Legal English Institute, which acts as a bridging program for students heading towards an LL.M. 

2. Read up

Some law schools will provide you with a recommended reading list. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush up in areas where you may be lacking – especially if you’re going to be studying law in a language other than your mother tongue.

“If they’re really eager,” says Jaeger-Fine, “they should just familiarize themselves with trying to read some legal English. Especially for non-native speakers, they should read a bit about the legal system.”

“Obviously LL.M. programs are accustomed to getting people up to speed with this, but try to read some judicial opinions, just sort of familiarize themselves with legal English,” she says.

Ravi Malhotra, vice dean of graduate studies at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, offers a couple of specific recommendations: “I do think reading something like John Rawls’ canonical work, ‘A Theory of Justice’, or Coase's famous article from 1960, ‘The Problem of Social Cost’ can be useful for some students, but it all depends on their interests.”

See LL.M. Guide’s recommended reading list

3. Set goals and make connections

Taking some time to set goals and make a plan will help keep you on track once you find yourself busy with study, potentially in a new city, far away from your support network.

“If part of your LL.M. goal is to network here,” says Jaeger-Fine, “either because you want to try to find a job or an internship, or because a network will be really important to your practice when you go back home, you should have a networking plan.”

She recommends you make a list of the kinds of organizations you want to join or activities you want to participate in during your LL.M. “The time will go really, really fast and once you start your studies you won’t have so much time to do that research,” she says.

“For example, for students coming to New York City, I would want them to have looked at the relevant bar associations and other organizations they might be interested in joining and getting involved in, and a bit of a plan for how to make that happen.”

You can also get a head-start on your networking by joining any relevant online groups (such as on Facebook) to get to know your classmates a little before you meet in person. 

4. Allow enough time to settle in

Jaeger-Fine says that not having allowed enough time to find accommodation, unpack and settle in can hold new LL.M. students back from fully engaging in their studies.

“I want students to have settled in before the first day of orientation,” she says. “Inevitably, every year we have some students who arrive that morning or the night before and they’re looking for an apartment or they haven’t unpacked or they’re totally jetlagged. I think you put yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t settle in some days or a week before your LL.M.”

Making sure you’ve secured accommodation well in advance will mean you can arrive in your new city with ease and take the time you need to unpack, orient yourself, find nearby amenities and get some good rest before the program begins.

5. Relax

Jaeger-Fine says “I want our students to have had a really good summer. I want them to be happy and healthy and feel like they are ready for the program.”

An LL.M. is a massive undertaking – it’s a mental challenge, as well as a big change in lifestyle. So taking some time out to rest and recharge your batteries can make a big difference once it’s time to hit the books.

The University of Ottawa’s Ravi Malhotra agrees. “Relaxing as much as possible is a great start.”


Images:

  • Law Book Shelf by Pixabay CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • The Quad at UPenn in the fall by Kevin83002 CC BY 2.0
  • Orientation at Newman University, Birmingham by James Nayler CC BY-SA 4.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/five-ways-to-use-the-summer-to-prepare-for-your-llm Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions for an LL.M. Student in China—Alejandra Tapia]]> Can you tell me a little about your career background?

I’m from Panama—it’s very unusual, to have a Latin American lawyer doing her LL.M. in China. I did my undergraduate degree there, and once I finished, I thought, “well, it’s the path everyone follows back home—in Panama it’s very common to go either to the US or UK.” And I said, “well I want something different.”

My interest in China wasn’t out of the blue; in Panama we’re not strangers to Chinese culture—we have a big Chinese community, I think it’s about four percent of our population. It’s very common to have Chinese friends, Chinese food, a sense of Chinese culture. Panama just established diplomatic relations with mainland China, and due to our geographic position and canal, we always had a commercial relationship with the mainland.

Studying in China was something my dad always tried to talk to me about—he always told me, “Alejandra you can always just explore and let’s see what you’d want to do—maybe study there.” I said “no, I want be a lawyer and study in Panama.” But then I thought, well it’s good to be different, good to stand out—plus we are a lot of lawyers in Panama. China is the second biggest economy, so it was a good move.

Can you tell me a little about how you came around to doing LL.M. at STL?

What were your career goals, what did you want to do with the program? During my undergrad I worked at one of Panama’s top law firms as a paralegal, then a lawyer. But I really wanted to explore, to have new challenges.

One of my favorite classes was about drafting bilingual contracts, with a professor who was a partner at Baker McKensie and fluent in Chinese; it was so interesting just to know about ambiguities: indemnity clauses, for example. In my case, coming from a country of civil law, it was also really interesting to look at common law. It gave me the right tools in my current job at the moment.

During my LL.M. I always had good contact with the law firm, so when I came back they told me, ‘well Alejandra we’d like fo you to come back to be a liaison with the Hong Kong office.’ It was very exciting news, and now I’m working at the Hong Kong office, bridging operations with their Asia clients.

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How did you find the experience of living in China?

I really enjoyed my time in China; I maybe didn’t feel the cultural shock as much as others. Shenzhen is a small city for China—but still, they have maybe 14 million people, and Panama is a country of four million. So at first, coming from this little country to this city—I just tried to take the best of the city and the best of China. Of course there are different foods, smells, traditions, but that’s their country, this is how things are here, and you need to get used to it and enjoy the amazing things they have to offer—try hot pot! I had it in Panama, but didn’t really have it until I got to China. There are really fresh fruits and vegetables, from farm to table—that was really impressive. You can take things in a good way or in a bad way, so I just thought, it’s an LL.M., I can be here a year, or stay a little longer, but I will definitely make the most out of my time.

What were some of the biggest challenges of doing an LL.M. in China?

What were some of the most important experiences you gained? The hardest thing was being away from your home, your family, your friends—although you make new friends, and from other cultures. But there’s the distance: you have a 13-hour difference, so sometimes I couldn’t talk to my family.

It was challenging, the coursework as well; I was a full-time student, and we needed to really take time and study—our classes were filled with reading cases and doing summaries. We had another class that was a mixture of law and economics; most lawyers choose law because we want to avoid math, so when you’re confronted by economic terms and numbers, you’re like, “ok this is challenging, we need to take more time and study.” In that sense it wasn’t an easy LL.M. But at STL we had office hours, and we could go meet professors with any questions. They’re very open and fond of helping.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing an LL.M. in China?

My advice if you really want to come to China to do an LL.M., I would recommend finding a program that is international, or a general LL.M. Because if you don't speak the language and you’re going to apply for an LL.M. in Chinese law, I don’t see much benefit for you in your future career. I know some universities in China offering LL.M.s in English, but they’re all about Chinese law.

Make sure you have a very general curriculum; also try to get to know as much as you can of the Chinese language—either take it with your university, or take it on the side. It’s really important to have knowledge of the culture and language in order to carry out your daily activities. At the end of the day, it’s about knowing that you give business cards with two hands, not one—manners and little gestures that all who are interested in doing business in China should know.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/5-questions-for-an-llm-student-in-china-alejandra-tapia Thu, 14 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Working in the US after an LL.M.]]> International students who want to work in the US after completing an LL.M. face an uphill battle.

Positions are competitive, there are visa hurdles to overcome, and then there’s the fact that an LL.M. doesn’t qualify you to practice law in the US, even if you have served as a lawyer in your home country.

As associate director of career development at Pepperdine University School of Law Aparna Gupta says, “it’s very hard for international students to compete with JD graduates for entry-level associate positions”.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t positions available in the US that are both open to, and interesting for, LL.M. graduates.

Gupta says she has generally seen international LL.M. graduates who stay to work in the US move into one of two types of roles: as lateral associates within law firms, or as compliance officers.

“We have seen lawyers who have significant experience in their home countries or home jurisdictions,” she says, “who come here, get an LL.M. degree and then have an area of expertise in international law, or a language capacity the firm is seeking, and so we see [them] become a lateral associate at a law firm.”

“The other position we’ve been seeing are compliance officers,” says Gupta. These are “folks that have international expertise on laws and regulations. These are non-lawyer jobs but they require a great deal of knowledge about the law. Many of our international graduates can contribute that to international corporations here in the US.”

Where to find post-LL.M. roles in the US 

So how do international LL.M. graduates secure these coveted roles?

Caroline T. Springer, Esq., executive director of graduate career & professional development at Georgetown University Law Center says law school careers fairs are a great place to start. “Law firms come to those fairs and hire students into those positions,” she says.

International LL.M. students have also had success making arrangements before commencing study, says Springer.

“A lot of times students are coming to a program in the US already having set up an arrangement with a firm,” she says, “because the company they work for in their home country has helped them make those arrangements with the firm here in the US.”

Springer recommends making the most of your law school’s alumni network, as well as any relevant internship opportunities.

Georgetown University Law Center’s location in Washington D.C. offers its students access to a number of international organizations, with which it has ongoing internship relationships.

“Some of our students are able to work at the World Bank, the IMF [International Monetary Fund], or the IFC [International Finance Corporation],” says Springer. “These are short-term consultancy roles, so they don’t typically convert into full-time positions.” 

For one Georgetown Law graduate, though, it did.

An LL.M. graduate who secured a full-time role at the World Bank

Nikolaos Doukellis, originally from Greece, graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with an LL.M. in International Legal Studies in 2016.

“It had long been my interest to study and then work for some time in the US,” says Doukellis, “and thankfully that came to be. But I knew that it wouldn’t be very easy.”

During his studies at Georgetown Law, Doukellis was introduced to some alumni who worked at the World Bank in Washington D.C. 

“I managed to leverage an internship opportunity there that Georgetown helped me identify, turning that internship into a permanent job,” he says.

Doukellis’ previous experience working with corruption back in Greece set him in good stead for his role at the World Bank where he ended up staying for two-and-a-half years, working in “the department that handles allegations of fraud and corruption with World Bank-funded programs”.

He recently moved into a new role in the US, this time in the private sector, as a senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “In this capacity I continue to work on cases of foreign corruption involving clients worldwide,” he says.

US visa opportunities for LL.M. graduates

For international LL.M. students wanting to stay and work in the US post-study, they will need to move off their student visa and on to a working visa.

LL.M. graduates are eligible to apply for the Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (commonly called the OPT), which allows them to stay in the US for one year and take on internships or short-term roles relevant to their just-completed studies.

Those wishing to stay longer can move on to the H1B visa. However, places are competitive as the number of visas permitted each year is capped and applicants must first seek financial sponsorship from their employer.

“We have a number of students who apply for the OPT,” says Springer. “Then, if they find a position here and they’re working with an employer who is willing to sponsor them for the H1B, then they go ahead and submit that application.”

LL.M. graduate Doukellis says this is where working at the World Bank made life much easier.

“Working for the World Bank, because it’s an international organization, requires a special type of visa that’s issued by the bank itself,” he says. “So getting a role in an international organization like the World Bank doesn’t require the sponsoring you would need to work in the private sector.”

That part of working in the US has only caught up with Doukellis in his new role. He is currently in the process of obtaining visa sponsorship from PwC.

What if you want to practice law in the US?

Most international applicants to US LL.M. programs don’t set out with the aim of practicing law in the US after graduation. 

The JD program sets you up to practice in the US,” says Springer. “The LL.M. doesn’t set you up to have a career of practicing law in the US.”

“We tell students if they want to have a career practicing law in the US, they should look at the JD.”

For those international LL.M. graduates who change their minds, and decide they would like to be able to practice law in the US, there are a few states where this is possible.

“It’s different state to state,” says Gupta at Pepperdine University School of Law. “You really have to see in which state you would like to practice, and follow the rules of that state. So, for example, states like California and New York, they do allow it.”

Usually applicants have to study for and pass the particular state’s bar and also provide transcripts from their law school in their home country.

Go home, gain experience, then make your way back to the US

For LL.M. graduates wanting to stay in the US to work, Gupta says it might work out better for them to go home after completing their LL.M. and work for a couple of years before coming back.

“Some of our best students have the most luck going abroad and using their language ability, gaining experience at the law firm, learning the firm’s values and the culture, and then finding positions at the same firm back in the US,” she says.

“Once they’ve spent a year or two, or even five years, at, say, a large law firm that has an office in Germany,” for example, says Gupta, “then they’re able to come and join the office here in New York or California, depending on where they take and pass the bar.” Of course, for some roles, passing the bar may not be required.

Gupta says she knows a current German LL.M. student, due to graduate this spring, who has set her sights on this long game. 

“This student landed three different internships at some of the top law firms here in the US that have offices in Germany,” says Gupta, “with the understanding that once she is selected to be a lawyer there, contingent on her doing great work for that firm, she would potentially have the opportunity to become an associate at the law firm’s office in New York.”

“Once you get your foot in the door [at a firm], it’s much easier to come back to the states and practice here,” says Gupta.


Images:

  • Pepperdine University CC BY 3.0  (cropped)
  • The World Bank Group headquarters building in Washington, D.C. CC BY 2.0 
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/working-in-the-us-after-an-llm Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[An In-depth Look at LL.M.s in China]]> When Alejandra Tapia finished her undergraduate degree in Panama, she knew that most of her peers did the typical trajectory of going to the US or UK for a master’s. 

“I thought, ‘well, that’s the path everyone follows back home,’” Tapia recalls. “And I said to myself, well, I want something different.” 

Panama established diplomatic relations with China in June 2017, and with its strategic position on the canal, the country had retained an important commercial relationship with the mainland. 

But beyond that, China had always been a part of Tapia’s life in Panama; there’s a large Chinese community in the country, and studying in China had always been something Tapia’s father talked to her about. 

“He always told me, Alejandra you can always just explore and let’s see what you’d want to do—maybe study there,” Tapia says. “I said ‘no, I want be a lawyer and study in Panama.’ But then I thought, well it’s good to be different, good to stand out—plus we are a lot of lawyers in Panama.”

So Tapia researched her options and decided to go to with an LL.M. at the Peking University School of Transnational Law, in Shenzhen. After graduating, she was hired as the China liaison to the Hong Kong office of her law firm back home, where she had worked as a paralegal before graduate school.

“Given the current status of the Chinese economy, so many graduates want to go to China,” says Mo Zhang, a professor of law at Temple University’s joint LL.M. program with Tsinghua University in Beijing. “It’s a very competitive environment right now. Even for our summer internships at the big law firms—we get hundreds of applications.” 

LL.M. programs in China

China’s economic rise has been a strong magnet for the legal industry, but from almost every angle, the country doesn’t make it easy for foreigners to work there. Non-Chinese citizens cannot practice Chinese law; they can only serve as foreign representative attorneys, or legal consultants. 

But that’s no deterrent for international students who want a China background in their legal studies.

“Every student writes in their application about what China is doing in their home countries,” says John H. Aycock, Director of Graduate and International Programs at STL. “The Belt and Road Initiative”—referring to China’s development strategy for connectivity and trade with Eurasian countries—”has become something of a buzzword, and there’s no two ways about it: the Chinese government is investing a lot in these places.”

“Increasingly, firms are getting Chinese clients, so some knowledge of Chinese law, culture, and language is a great asset.”

There are a plethora of LL.M. programs in China, with varied focuses: Xiamen University School of Law, the China-EU School of Law (CESL), China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), and Tsinghua University School of Law. STL’s program, for instance, emphasizes transnational law and practice, as well as Chinese and Western law and legal traditions. 

“Our idea is that because of China’s emerging status, countries and business parties—private or public—need to play ball with China,” says Aycock. “What does it mean for globalization of Chinese law? We’ve talked about interesting legal developments in Shenzhen, about the Belt and Road Initiative, and what that means for lawyering in general—with an important emphasis on multicultural understanding, language ability, and the awareness of multiple legal systems, including common law.”

Tapia recalls that one of her favorite classes, taught by a partner at Baker McKenzie who was fluent in Chinese, dealt with drafting bilingual contracts. 

“It was just so interesting to learn about the ambiguities—in indemnity clauses, for example,” Tapia recalls. “Those kinds of things you can’t get in most LL.M. programs—it really gave me the right tools to use in my current job at the moment.” 

Temple University, in Philadelphia, offers a joint 15-month program with Tsinghua in Beijing that takes a different approach: it caters to Chinese judges, prosecutors, government officials, and law professors. Mo Zhang, a professor at the program, says that most students come to the LL.M. to improve their legal English, and secondly to have a study of common law. Half are from Beijing, while the other half hail from other parts of China. Upon graduation, most will go back to their previous employers, in hopes of a promotion or transfer to the Beijing or Shanghai office from a regional one. 

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Zhang says that some also transfer from Chinese law firms to foreign ones, who “really want someone who is an expert in the Chinese legal system but who can also communicate at a sufficient level in English.” 

Job prospects, and some advice

Despite restrictions on foreign nationals working as practicing lawyers in China, the job market still seems ripe for international students wanting to stay in the country after graduation. Zhang says in the coastal cities, in particular, “demand is high” for foreign legal professionals, and all the top international law firms have offices in China, so there’s no short supply of positions. 

“If you have a foreign law degree and bar in another country, you could be a lawyer at a foreign law firm, and be an expert in Chinese law,” Zhang says. “And in that way, your salary will be much higher than working as a local consultant.”

But language is important to net that job; Tapis advises LL.M. graduates to really have a grasp of Chinese. 

“Try to get to know as much as you can of the Chinese language; it’s really important to have knowledge of culture and language in order to carry out your daily activities,” she says. “At the end of the day, it’s about knowing that you give business cards with two hands, not one—manners and little gestures that all who are interested in doing business in China should know.”

For STL grads, however, staying in China after graduation has been rarer. Aycock notes that one Malaysian student interned at internet startup giant Tencent before going back to private practice back home, while another is debating whether to go back to Uganda for an internship, or start one at a firm in Hong Kong. Another is working on China-Africa relations at a Beijing think tank. 

“A lot of graduates have interest in Hong Kong or Singapore—it’s a bit more international than Shenzhen, and the work that they’re doing might be different, they may actually be able to practice law,” Aycock says. “Hong Kong and Singapore have less of a barrier for that. But a big part of it also might be just the desire to return home.”


Photo: CC BY 3.0/Cropped: Shanghai - Pudong - Lujiazui/PierreSelim

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/an-in-depth-look-at-llms-in-china Fri, 18 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[How to Apply For An LL.M. Scholarship]]>  

Depending on the program, an LL.M. degree can cost tens of thousands. It’s no small amount, and few can support the financial burden on their own. 

“We really do appreciate the challenge our students have in funding the LL.M., and we take that very seriously,” says Elise Kraemer, executive director of graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

“It’s a lot of money, especially for people coming from countries where the currency and rate of pay is not commensurate to that of the US.”

But the scholarship pool can often be confusing to navigate; there are law school-specific funding options, scholarships from the university, and often joint scholarship partnerships with organizations like the Fulbright Program. With some thorough research and outreach, however, applicants can find good chances of securing a scholarship for their LL.M. education. 

“Apply for everything that is open to you,” says Emily Haslam, co-director at the Centre for Critical International Law at the University of Kent. “The criteria are going to be different for each scholarship you’re applying for; there are plenty of opportunities out there, but they need to direct their applications specifically to those requirements.” 

Merit- and need-based scholarships

Many schools in the US and elsewhere will offer need- or merit-based scholarships; at American University Washington College of Law, for instance, each LL.M. program offers partial scholarships based solely on “high academic merit.” These grants are assessed during the admissions process, and require the applicant to submit a one-page cover letter indicating qualifications and academic background. The law school also provides need-based scholarships, which cover two to eight academic credits and apply only to tuition charges; they can’t be used towards living expenses.

“Students will only get one scholarship from us, however, whether it’s merit or need-based,” says Meghan Walter, associate director of graduate admissions. “Sometimes people apply for both, and we’ll take both into consideration.”

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UPenn applicants have the option of being considered for merit-based aid right on the LL.M. application form itself. “We try to make [the] process of applying for aid as simple as possible,” Kraemer says. “You literally just check a box to be considered for merit aid.”

The committee looks for exceptional academic achievement—which can mean different things in different places, she notes: professional experience, what type is it, how deep, how interesting—”we’re using it to optimize the talent and diversity of the class,” Kraemer says. 

Other scholarship options

Beyond need or merit-based scholarships, school often offer various funding options for different specializations or geographic regions. At Kent Law School, for instance, you can apply for a scholarship offered to students from the UK and the rest of the EU, or one offered to international students. It also has a fund supporting students from or who have done an undergraduate degree in Kenya, Nigeria or Thailand; a £2,500 tuition fee discount is automatically awarded to eligible entrants.

American University offers a plethora of scholarships grouped by specialization, including the Alumni Fund, which offers full tuition to newly admitted LL.M. students in the International Legal Studies Program who display “rigorous academic dedication to the advancement of issues in international law.” Around five of the roughly 50 students in the fall intake receive this scholarship, and one for the spring intake, which is smaller—around 20 students, one of which is awarded the full scholarship.

[Related Article: How to Pay for Your LL.M.]

American University also offers one full-tuition scholarship per year to a former Inter-American Moot Court Competition participant, as well as a Summer Program Scholarship for incoming students who have taken courses in one of the school’s summer programs. 

“We’re very generous with our scholarships,” Walter says, noting that well over half of AU’s entire LL.M. class receives scholarship aid. “We do whatever needs to happen to get students here. A US LL.M. is expensive, especially here in [Washington] D.C. We understand that.”

UPenn offers one or two human rights scholarships per year to outstanding students with a demonstrated commitment to human rights. “For those, we’re not looking for just stellar credentials and interest, but real experience and commitment to human rights—are they really engaged in that kind of legal work,” says Kraemer.

Applicants are required to write an additional essay for those scholarships, and provide additional paperwork like financial records, in the case of need-based grants. 

Kent’s Haslam advises students to also scour the university’s web pages for additional scholarships, not just the law school’s. 

“For most students, they’ll need to do a bit more digging—looking in more than one place to find the right scholarship,” she says. “The process is competitive, but every year people get them. A scholarship is also prestigious; it’s something that can help your CV, so it’s really worth trying.”

Nailing the scholarship essay 

For scholarships that do require an essay, it’s key to understand how to tailor your own experience and aspirations to their focus. AU’s Alumni Fund scholarship, for instance, asks applicants to describe a current regional, international or country-specific legal problem and offer a solution to the problem in under 750 words. It also asks how the applicant will contribute to the law school.

“The essays that were really strong were ones that had lot of heart behind them,” says Walter. “It was a topic very close to them, and you could tell they did a lot of research or had been living it—you could really just feel the excitement or interest they had. And that really makes a difference.”

Scholarships committees also advise applicants to read the criteria very carefully, and address them substantively as well as formally. If it asks to submit a piece work of a particular word length, make sure you do that; or if the criteria are academic excellence, then address that in your application. 

“It all seems obvious in the cold light of day, but sometimes people haven’t had many opportunities to distill their experience in the ways you would when you’re writing those applications,” says Haslam, who authored an informal guide to applying for scholarships, available on Kent’s website. 

A majority of students at the schools we spoke with receive some form of financial support, be it law school scholarships or sponsorship from employers, their home country governments, or other third party funds. One hard-earned tip that UPenn’s Kraemer discloses is to plan for currency fluctuations. 

“If the student’s hometown currency is likely to be in fluctuation, they should really think about getting money into US dollars earlier rather than later,” she says, noting a few cases in the past. “We’re always able to get students through graduation, but when major currency fluctuations happen, it adds a lot of stress and distraction.”

Walter says that an engaged, proactive approach is the best way to net an LL.M. scholarship. Be vigilant, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

“It never hurts to ask,” Walter says. “In some countries it’s an uncomfortable thing to ask for money—but here, it never hurts to ask. It’s important; it puts you into consideration.”
 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/how-to-apply-for-an-llm-scholarship Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Working in the UK after an LL.M.]]> Many international LL.M. students set out with the hope of using their studies as a stepping-stone to find work locally after graduation. 

For those wishing to settle in the UK and gain work experience post-LL.M. there are plenty of options. Some opt to study towards becoming practicing lawyers in the UK, while others use what they’ve learned during their LL.M. to take their legal expertise into other sectors.

Dr Philippa Webb, associate professor of public international law at King’s College London, says many of the college’s LL.M. graduates choose to stay on in the UK with the hope of finding employment using their new qualifications.

“Quite a few of our graduates go into commercial law firms here in the UK and of course in Europe and other countries,” says Webb. “They have also gone into government and in-house counsel within companies. A small number go to the bar, while others go into academia, either pursuing a PhD or becoming lecturers.”

Some LL.M. graduates may also seek work in sectors outside the law, for example in the health and medicine sector, energy or environment sectors, where they can act as legal experts for large organizations, for example.

Obtaining the right to practice law in the UK

For those who do wish to practice law in the UK, there are a couple of options.

In the UK, you do not necessarily have to be admitted to the bar in order to practice law: to become a barrister or solicitor requires different training.

In order to become a barrister, “the entry standards are set by the Bar Standards Board, and they require a qualifying law degree,” says Webb. “An LL.M is a specialist degree, but not a qualifying law degree for the purposes of the bar.”

Those wishing to become barristers would either need to complete the undergraduate LL.B., which takes three years, or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), which takes one year.

At that point, those wishing to become solicitors undertake a Legal Practice course (LPC), while hopeful barristers go on to study for the bar exam using a study program such as the Bar Professional Training Course.

But that doesn’t mean the LL.M. won’t help you in your career.

“The LL.M. isn’t irrelevant to becoming a lawyer in the UK, because it’s not just about becoming qualified and sitting the bar exam,” says Webb. “The most critical part of making a career at the bar, and I know this because I’m in the bar as well, is getting pupilage and that’s where an LL.M. can really distinguish you from other applicants.”

A Chinese solicitor with a competitive advantage in the City of London

Taking advantage of the concentrations and specializations on offer in many of the UK’s LL.M. programs can help future lawyers to stand out when they enter the job market. 

Originally from China, Dr Yan Li completed an LL.M. at the University of Southampton in 2003. Today she is a senior associate at INCE & Co, a commercial law firm in the City of London, where she works as a maritime shipping lawyer.

Yan Li. Source: Private

As she is a solicitor, Li did not need to sit the bar exam, however she did undertake many years of training to get to where she is today. She says her LL.M. has been integral to her success.

“I did my LL.B. in Shanghai and then came to the UK to do my LL.M., thinking I would just stay for that one year, but here I still am!”

Li had originally planned to specialize in commercial law during her LL.M., but ended up changing to maritime law. This turned out to be a fortuitous choice.

“I realized after studying maritime law that it is used all over the world,” says Li. “Today, I work for lots of Chinese clients, and in shipping law, it’s the English law I learned that is used in the maritime and shipping industries.”

“It doesn’t matter where you work [in maritime law], the English law applies. Studying maritime law makes you internationally recognized.”

Following her LL.M., Li took a gap year while she sorted out her scholarship funding, and then undertook her PhD in international trade law, also from the University of Southampton.

“I got a trainee solicitor role in the City, where the law firm sends you to do a two-year trainee solicitor course,” explains Li.

The first year is spent on the GDL, with the second on the LPC. At the end of those two years, Li was a qualified solicitor, and has stayed on with her firm ever since.

International experience has its advantages

Li says her Chinese background has given her a competitive advantage when working with Chinese clients.

“When I was having my original job interview, I asked them whether a Chinese candidate would have an advantage,” says Li. “They didn’t think so at the time. But now, because the Chinese economy picked up, and in the shipping industry the Chinese and Asian market really grew very quickly, now my maritime English law background and my Chinese law background makes me very marketable.”

“There are only a handful of us who specialize in maritime law,” says Li. “And that’s why I’m in China right now, because the London office sent me here to do a three-year secondment.”

So what about obtaining a visa?

All non-EU citizens require a visa in order to study or work in the UK.

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For those who wish to stay on in the UK post-study, getting that visa is a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

“All students studying on a program of 12 months or longer are given an extra four months’ leave at the end of their visa,” says Ali McDonald, Assistant Head of International Student Support at the University of Edinburgh.

“Students can use this time to look for appropriate employment in the UK.”

However, in order to get a work visa, known as the Tier 2 visa, applicants must find sponsorship from an employer.

“The application itself is straightforward,” says McDonald, “however the job market is very competitive and the position available must meet the requirements for a Tier 2 visa.”

“For example,” she says, “the salary must be at least 20,800 GBP or the industry minimum and the employer itself must be a Tier 2 sponsor.”


Images:

  • City of London skyline from London City Hall by Diliff CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Yan Li. Source: Private
]]>
https://llm-guide.com/articles/working-in-the-uk-after-an-llm Mon, 19 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Are My Grades Good Enough for an LL.M.?]]> When it comes to LL.M. applications, there are plenty of elements that factor into your eligibility—recommendations, motivation letters, work experience. So how much does your grade point average matter in the grand scheme of things? 

A standout GPA will certainly place you in the top ranks of applicants for any LL.M. program—it’s school we’re talking about, after all. 

“The GPA is certainly important for us; we want to make sure the applicant has the intellectual ability to thrive in our programs,” says Scott Schumacher, director of the LL.M. program in taxation at the University of Washington’s School of Law

At McGill University, there’s a minimum GPA cutoff the university imposes (3.0), although on occasion the admissions team can override it if it can justify other aspect of the file, notes Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Richard Gold. “We want to make sure whoever comes to us will succeed and contribute to the student environment,” says Gold. 

Likewise, for many UK-based LL.M. programs, there are often grade cutoffs. For instance, those applicants applying to the LL.M. at LSE must have a class rank of 2:1 or equivalent. For those students who hail from countries where class ranks are not given, there may be some confusion in what this exactly entails.

Indeed, at times, gauging what a good grade is can also be harder than it sounds; with programs that draw many international applicants, it can sometimes be a challenge to navigate international GPA standards. Washington, for instance, became one of the more recent states to allow foreign-trained lawyers to sit for the bar without a US law degree; Schumacher says it’s caused an uptick in the number of non-domestic applicants, and thus spurred greater familiarity with international grading standards. 

“Our Asian law center has been around for more than fifty years, so we have long history of experience with those law schools,” Schumacher says. “When we’re not sure about the school, it’s when work experience is more important.”

Gold points out that German law schools are particularly difficult in terms of grading; it’s nearly impossible to get a B average, making their grading curve fairly different from the rest of the world. 

“German students present a particular problem, where you might have the lowest GPA, but the student’s fantastic in terms of what they’ve done, the recommendation letters, etc.” Gold says. “It happened even this year—one of my favorite candidates just didn’t have a particularly good GPA, but was just strong overall, did really well in state exams, the letters—the rest of the package was just stellar.”

It's worth noting that for LL.M. programs offered by less competitive schools, weaker grades aren't always a problem, especially for well-rounded candidates.

Other admission factors 

Every school will look holistically at the applicant, but different schools have different emphases. At Columbia Law School, strong preference is given to applicants who have had at least one year of work experience after earning their first law degree. 

“Only in exceptional circumstances are applications from candidates who are in their final year of their first law degree accepted,” says the office of graduate legal studies. “Applicants who have not yet graduated must demonstrate in their personal statements that their admission to the program would enable them to realize an immediate and specific career objective that would not otherwise be attainable.”

For the Asian and Comparative Law LL.M.s at Washington, work experience is also crucial—so students can bring different perspectives from varied legal systems into the classroom. “The more experience you have, the more context, and the better learning process,” Schumacher says. 

Other schools are very focused on academics. McGill values only academic references from professors, Gold notes; its admission committee is comprised of professors, so it places a particular emphasis on letters from university deans or teachers. Gold says that one of the biggest mistakes applicants make is submitting recommendation letters from employers or friends, which the school doesn’t really take into consideration in evaluating the merit of the candidate. 

“We realize students can’t control it completely, but it’s helpful that students talk to referees and tell them to talk substantively about their experience with this candidate,” he says. “Give some guidance to your referee. It’s one of the more important aspects of the file.”

This stringent approach extends to the way the admission committee looks at motivation letters and proposals (McGill has both a thesis LL.M. program and a non-thesis LL.M.) 

“If it’s a thesis, they should show us that they can do outside research to come up with proposal—we look at how well-written is it, clear is it, if they understand what a project looks like,” Gold says. 

If it’s non-thesis application, Gold values how well the applicant has presented his or her motivations for coming to McGill, how coming to McGill fits into where they’re going in life, and most importantly why they chose McGill in particular. 

Columbia also takes a keen interest in concrete examples of how the applicant has worked toward his or her career aspirations. The school says it looks at “how and to what extent candidates have forged their values and achieved their goals—how they have actually chosen to commit their time, energies, and talents, and how they have made use of their opportunities.” Applicants are evaluated not just on their potential but by “demonstrated motivation, self-discipline and industry.”

Advice for the applicant

Given that grades are not always the end-all-be-all of an LL.M. application, what can an applicant do with his/her set of existing credentials? 

Really study the law school’s website, Schumacher advises. Look at the faculty—not just full time, but also part-time. Talk to people who have gone to one, and reach out to schools; don’t be shy about sending an email and setting up time to Skype. And when you’re writing the motivation letter, really consider what in your life and experience brought you to this point, to study this specific topic. 

“We have so many students who say, ‘I want to study in the US,’ but nothing in there says ‘tax law,’ or ‘intellectual property law,’” he says. “If you don’t mention McGill—that counts against you. We prefer to take people who rank us highly, understanding of who we are, what we offer, and show us that they’ve done their research, not filled out a form.”

And, if you’re going to write a proposal, Gold reminds us of the golden scholastic rule: cite properly. “We take care that there’s not plagiarism—we’ve encountered that in some of these documents before, so it’s very important to properly cite.”

At the end of the day, a GPA is just that: a grade point average that shows what you were able to do in class. But, most of the time, your grades in and of themselves won’t determine your LL.M. admission prospects. 

“The GPA really tells us whether this student really be able to succeed in an academic setting, especially for those who don’t come from our education system,” says Gold. “Beyond that, it doesn’t really tell us much."
 


Photo: Michael Pollack/cropped/CC BY 2.0

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/are-my-grades-good-enough-for-an-llm Thu, 15 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Summer Law Programs for Incoming LL.M. Students]]> Starting your LL.M. in the fall? Need to brush up on your English or your legal skills?

Then you’re in luck: Many law schools offer summer programs designed to prepare international students for legal study.

At US law schools, these are usually divided into two groups: Legal English courses, which cover the vocabulary needed to discuss and analyze US law, and courses on the US legal system.

For example, the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle runs a two-week program on the US legal system for incoming international students.

Seattle skyline

The Summer Institute in Transnational Law and Practice director, Dr. Dana Raigrodski, says, “it is really designed to offer an overview of some of the fundamental concepts of the American legal system, but with an emphasis on how you, as lawyers, think and approach problem solving, focusing on the analytics skills, the vocabulary, and the thought processes.”

“We do spend a lot of time on the basic civics,” she explains, “the fundamental structures of government and constitutional premises, because those are very unique to the American legal system.”

Raigrodski says the program, which tends to run through the first two weeks of September, is primarily attended by incoming graduate law students who are about to begin LL.M. or PhD programs. But there are also a small number of international JDs, and occasionally they are joined by some legal professionals who are looking for a crash-course in the US legal system.

[See a list of upcoming Summer Law Programs in 2018]

The program is not compulsory for incoming international LL.M. students, but the law school highly recommends it.

In fact, Raigrodski was a foreign-trained attorney herself when she arrived in the US to pursue her LL.M. She went on to complete her doctorate studies in the US.

“I remember that the transition from one legal system to another, and particularly to the American legal system with all of its unique features, it definitely required effort,” she says.

“So when I, and another faculty member, conceptualized this program, it was really with this understanding, that we want to give our students a leg up when they start their LL.M. studies. We want to have them already warmed up to hit the ground running, because in most LL.M. programs in US law schools, the students go immediately into fairly advanced classes.”

“Even students who come with strong English, the vocabulary component of the [summer] program is very helpful,” says Raigrodski, “It serves to reinforce to LL.M. students that they’re in the right place, and help set them up for an amazing year.”

Some law schools in the UK also offer summer programs, many of them focusing on helping incoming LL.M. students brush up on their English language skills and learn about law in England. The University of Edinburgh, for instance, offers the four-week long “English for the LL.M.” program, while the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Continuing Education offers a three-week long program in English Law and Legal Methods.

Learn about US law and build an international network

University of California, Davis

Next year the University of California, Davis, School of Law will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its Orientation in USA Law program.

It’s one of two summer law programs offered by the school to incoming international students – the other is an English for Legal Professionals course. 

Like the summer law program at the University of Washington, these programs are not compulsory for LL.M. students arriving from around the world – but they serve as a strong foundation for the rigorous study awaiting students in the LL.M.

“Although it is not compulsory, the majority of our LL.M. students attend our Orientation in USA Law Program,” says Beth Greenwood, Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of the UC Davis School of Law LL.M. program.

“Students learn the fundamentals of US law, become more proficient in legal English and create a professional and supportive network of friends and colleagues across the globe.” 

“Students who attend the Summer International Law Programs are more confident of their language, know what to expect in an American law school, and have the skills that ensure their success,” says Greenwood.

Bring your legal English skills up to speed

Professor M. Catherine Beck is a non-lawyer language specialist who has been working on Legal English programs for the past 15 years.

Professor Beck developed the Legal English Program at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law, and she also teaches on the Summer English Language Studies (SELS) program at the University of California, Berkeley.

Berkeley’s SELS program includes two courses: Legal Writing and Legal English: Introduction to the American Legal System.

Professor Beck says these attract not only foreign legal professionals and law students preparing to begin their graduate studies at Berkeley, but also students who are about to start LL.M. programs in other parts of the US.

Professor Beck teaches on the Legal Writing course at Berkeley, which focuses on writing and reading comprehension, at same level you would expect from a first-year legal writing course.

“We work through reading comprehension, identifying relevant facts in cases, and we work through synthesizing the elements of the cases we’re working with to come up with a rule that we apply to a given situation,” she explains. 

Students “end up writing a hypothetical memo to the senior attorney who assigned them the case – and this precisely what they would be doing in a first semester legal writing class in law school,” says Professor Beck.

She says there is some overlap between students on the two SELS courses, and that generally everyone is welcome to join the class trips.

Last summer, students visited the former prison island Alcatraz, as well as the Supreme Court of California and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, both in San Francisco. At the appeals court, students were able to meet a judge and ask questions about topics like capital punishment.

At Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law, Professor Beck coordinates the summer program, as well as a legal English program that runs concurrently with the LL.M. school year, providing additional language support to international students.

The school’s legal skills seminar runs in both summer and winter, directly before the LL.M. program begins.

“It’s a combination of legal English, study skills and orientation that you would normally see over a few days, but we do it over two weeks,” explains Professor Beck.

The seminar is compulsory for incoming international students.

At the end of the two weeks, students are tested. Anyone who needs additional legal English support will go on to attend the legal English course that runs alongside the LL.M., to make sure their language skills can develop alongside their legal skills.


Images:

  • Seattle with Space Needle by Rattlhed CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Downtown Seattle skyline by Cacophony CC BY-SA 3.0
  • University of California, Davis by Bev Sykes CC BY 2.0 
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/summer-law-programs-for-incoming-llm-students Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[US Student Visas for LL.M. Students]]> You’ve managed the LL.M. application process, had the interview and scored yourself a place on a great LL.M. program. There’s only one thing left to do: secure your student visa.

There are two terms you’ll quickly become familiar with when applying to study on an LL.M. program in the US as an international student: the F-1 visa and the I-20 form. The F-1 visa is for international students wishing to study in the US, while the I-20 is a certificate of eligibility granted to you by your school or university, in order for you to proceed with your visa application.

USA immigration queue at JFK airport.

“Essentially the form is what the students take to the consulate or embassy in their home country,” explains Colleen Ference Burke, International Student Advisor for Georgetown Law's graduate programs. “It confirms they’ve gotten into a program in the US, that they have proven they’re able to support themselves financially during the program and that they’ve met all the standards for admission.”

Once students have obtained the I-20 form, they must make an appointment with their nearest US embassy or consulate to make the visa application.

Financial requirements

But let’s take a step back.

One of the major requirements for obtaining that I-20 form is first proving you have the financial requirements of your studies covered. 

Ference Burke says “students need to show they have the ability to support themselves”, both by being able to cover the tuition fees, as well as the living costs for the duration of the LL.M. program.

So how do you know how much you will need?

“It’s going to depend on the school – so it’s essentially the cost of tuition and then the cost of living in the area that the school’s located,” says Ference Burke. Most schools publish up-to-date costs on their websites.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, full-time LL.M. tuition at Georgetown Law was 61,800 USD, with total non-tuition expenses for the nine months estimated at 28,550 USD.

However, it’s important to understand what is – and isn’t – covered within schools’ stated living costs.

“Some schools are more – or less – inclusive with what they include in the cost of attendance,” says Ference Burke. “So at Georgetown we include the cost of health insurance, among other things, in the cost of living.” Not every school does this.

If you are planning to bring dependents – a partner and/or children – with you, then their living costs will also need to be covered.

Spencer Kimura, the LL.M. Program Director at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa says dependents “will be applying for an F-2 visa, in which case they would have to supply their passports as well, and an additional 4,000 USD per dependent is required.

You will need bank statements to prove you’ve got the financial requirements covered. And if it’s a family member or other sponsor who will cover these requirements, they need to provide specific details of how much they are able to cover.

“When the sponsor certifies support for the student,” explains Kimura, “they also must submit either a bank statement showing their account, or sometimes it’s a statement from the bank that says this individual has sufficient funds for this amount of money.”

“This is so the university can confirm to the government that this student has enough financial backing, so they won’t end up stuck in the US without enough funds.”

Visa processing times

Sam Nahidi, Interim Director of the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars says applicants can look up the wait times at different embassies and consulates around the world on the US State Department website.

“Admitted students are eligible to apply for the F-1 visa as early as 120 days before the program start date,” says Nahidi. We recommend students to start the process of the I-20 request as early as possible after receiving the admission offer from the university.”

Ference Burke at Georgetown Law notes that although it can sometimes be difficult to get an appointment online, there is a work-around.

She says, “if there are no open appointments in time for them to begin their program, they can actually contact the US consulate or embassy directly and ask for an appointment. They treat the start date of an F-1 program as an urgent reason for an appointment.”

That way, you can make sure you will have your visa sorted with enough time to travel to the US, settle in and being orientation at your law school.

Trump's travel ban and other diplomacy challenges

Protest against Trump's travel ban at JFK Airport, 2017.

Ference Burke says that with many overseas diplomatic posts still left vacant since the Trump administration took office in January 2017, her team has been a little more proactive in its communication with students.

“We always encourage students to apply early,” she says, “but even more than in previous years we’ve encouraged them to contact us as soon as possible and then to proceed with applying for visas as soon as possible.”

“We did recently experience that for a short period of time the US embassy in Turkey was not processing non-immigrant visas [which include the F-1 visa], so any student who needed to obtain a non-immigrant visa would have needed to go to another country and apply there as a third-party national.”

However, Ference Burke says as yet, these uncertainties have not prevented any LL.M. students from being able to join the Georgetown Law program.

“We have not seen a bit uptick in students unable to get appointments or students who are unable to receive a visa in time to get into the program.”

Kimura at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, however, says his school’s experience has been a little different.

“So far the travel ban hasn’t affected us too much,” he says. “Although there was a case where two applicants from one of those countries under President Trump’s travel ban did not get their visa in time to come here. That was too bad for them – and for us, actually.”

Like Ference Burke and her colleagues at Georgetown Law, Kimura and his team are working with more ambiguity than usual.

“I don’t know if that’s just because there’s no embassy in their country, so it took too long to process their documents, or if it was a direct result of the travel ban,” he says. “It’s hard to say what the cause is.”

What about staying in the US after an LL.M.?

Many LL.M. students want to stay in the US for some time after graduation to seek work.

“F-1 visa students in the LL.M. program may apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) as early at three months before graduation,” says Nahidi at UCLA. “OPT is a one-year employment authorization related to the major field of study and it may start after graduation.”

“Normally you apply in February,” explains Kimura, “because you can apply up to 90 days before you get employed – so that once you graduate in May, you’re able to start working, in a clerkship or with a judge, or a local firm, or such.”

“This allows students to put into practice what they have learned during their graduate studies, which is quite popular among LL.M. students,” says Kimura.

After the OPT period, LL.M.s hoping to stay in the US and work long-term usually need to apply for an H-1B visa, along with securing financial sponsorship from an employer.

The number of H-1B visas each year is capped, which means applicants enter a competitive lottery.


Images:

  • Passport with stamps by Megan Eaves CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • USA immigration at JFK by Beatrice Murch CC BY 2.0
  • JFK protest by Luminary Traveler CC BY 2.0
]]>
https://llm-guide.com/articles/us-student-visas-for-llm-students Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Not Just Catwalks: A Closer Look at Fashion Law LL.M.s]]> When Susan Scafidi launched the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School in 2010, her initial goal was to try to establish fashion law as a mainstream academic discipline alongside all the other fields—banking law, sports law, securities law, etc.
 
“I heard a lot of laughter at first,” she says. “But our goal was achieved faster than I’d dreamed.”
 
The institute was founded with the support of designer Diane von Furstenberg and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and was the first academic center dedicated to legal and business issues relating to the industry. Fordham’s fashion law LL.M. is also one of the first to offer graduate law students a particular focus on the industry; courses include intellectual property, business and finance—including areas like investment, employment law, and real estate—international trade and government regulation, and consumer culture and civil rights.
 
Other schools—mostly in New York City—have followed suit. The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University offers an intellectual property LL.M., and has established a Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment Law Center that trains students for jobs in legal creative industries. Val Myteberi, assistant dean of graduate and international programs at Cardozo, says that not all of the school’s LL.M. cohort specializes in IP, or entirely on FAME courses.
 
“The most important thing for a student who wants to be in this field is to be a problem solver for the creative industries,” she says. “Maybe you’re solving a labor issue, or real estate. It’s not just fashion, clothing, design. You have to think as a business lawyer—licensing agreements, drafting, etc. Students shouldn’t come in and say, ‘we’re just doing fashion law.’ It starts with understanding business.”
 
At New York University Law School, LL.M. students can also take the Fashion Law and Business course taught by Douglas Hand, a fashion lawyer who also heads a practicum course at Cardozo. Out of roughly 40 students in his NYU course, around 6 or 7 are LL.M. students, Hand notes.

Such programs have been particularly attractive for international students; Fordham’s Fashion Law LL.M. has roughly a 50-50 mix of domestic and international students coming from countries like France, Venezuela, Japan, and Canada. Cardozo’s program draws many French students, while NYU’s course has a few Chinese and Italian students.

“Those perspectives are great in the classroom,” Hand says. “Fashion is a global industry, but there’s a lot of regional specificity—you can have the perspective of someone from Italy, where they have a history of craftsmanship, or a student from China, and take a look at the history of manufacturing.”

Issues in fashion law

As technology continues to disrupt the global economy, fashion lawyers will have plenty on their plates. Scafidi says that today’s biggest legal challenges reflect the broader challenges facing the industry as a whole—and technology has a been a central driving force.
 
“It’s not only creating cheaper, quicker, and higher quality means of copying, but it's also giving rise to substantial concerns over data privacy, supply chain monitoring, finance—for example fintech and alternative currencies—and the uncertain future of brick and mortar retail, and the real estate it occupies,” she says.
 
Hand agrees, pointing to the “retail armageddon” that is shuttering many brands’ brick and mortar stores. Clothing retailer J. Crew recently announced the closure of yet another 50 stores after posting continuous losses, while BCBG Max Azria filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year after announcing the closure of 120 stores.
 
“The ability to close stores or negotiate with landlords is going to be a big topic over the next 2 to 3 years,” he says. “That’s again a good example of someone who could train and become a very good real estate lawyer via a big law setting, but then pivot and be very focused on the retail and fashion industry.”

Landing a fashion law job

Breaking into the industry will take more than just a keen interest in fashion, or even an LL.M. in Fashion Law. Hand, a founding partner at Hand Baldachin & Amburgey LLP, advises budding lawyers to first and foremost focus on their own training as a lawyer before honing in on their interest in the fashion industry.
 
“I think it’s a challenging proposition that an LL.M. might move the needle for me as a practitioner,” he says. “What we really look for is well-trained lawyers. They’ll learn about the fashion industry from the trenches. Practice at a firm that will train you to be the best lawyer you can be, rather than assuming you’ll focus on a specific area out of the gate. Sometimes it’s just not possible to know that early.”
 
Cardozo’s Myteberi agrees; all employers will want the candidate to enter a team with solid basic skills as it encounters a range of legal and business issues. “Particularly if you want to be that in-house lawyer, they’re going to ask—’have you seen [a] license agreement, have you drafted one,’ because Michael Kors is not going to train you.”
 
Fordham LL.M. graduates have been hired in a range of places, including in-house counsel at fashion brands, law firms, fashion-related nonprofits, as well as companies that are not primarily fashion brands but are expanding into the space. Alumni have taken other tracks as well, such as working for a company that provides brand protection, or using legal expertise in a broader management position.
 
Cardozo works with a list of roughly 60 companies in the fashion, media and entertainment industries, and focuses on getting students externships that could lead to full-time employment. Myteberi notes that one such student from South Korea recently received an externship at Universal Music Group; it ended up keeping her for the Optional Practical Training (a visa provision that allows an international student to work after studying), and offered to sponsor her H1B visa—which can be a rarity for international attorneys.

After years in the industry, Scafidi has some straightforward advice for lawyers looking to break into the field.

“Fashion law isn’t about shopping and celebrities, and you definitely should not pattern yourself after Elle Woods from Legally Blonde or be the billionth person to announce that you have ‘a passion for fashion,’” Scafidi warns. “Designers and brands are looking, first and foremost, for attorneys who understand their business and the law. Study the industry. Learn about design. Excel at law. Most of all, make yourself valuable.”
 
“The most important thing about you is not that you want to be hired, but that you can help designers, fashion houses, and stakeholders in the industry accomplish their goals.”


Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0/José Goulão/Cropped: Moda Lisboa 2008

 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/not-just-catwalks-a-closer-look-at-fashion-law-llms Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Inside LL.M.s in Corporate Law]]> To be a corporate lawyer today, you sometimes need to wear two hats—one for business acumen, and another for legal expertise.

And as rapid technological developments continue to reshape the way business is done, lawyers specializing in corporate law are increasingly pressured to bring added skill sets to the table.

“What all the firms are telling us is they need someone with a global perspective and strong business outlook,” says Paula Heras, associate director of admissions at IE Law School in Madrid. “That’s becoming more and more important—a deep knowledge of management, finance, accounting, technology, and really understanding how business works.”

“Today, firms can’t afford to have lawyers who cannot work across jurisdictions.”

Corporate law LL.M.s can help tailor the knowledge base for those looking to work in the sector, and different programs offer a range of choices for those looking to break into the sector.

A selection of Corporate Law LL.M. programs

Most of the top law schools in the US will offer LL.M.s that include corporate law either as a specialty or as part of their curricula.

Beyond Corporate LL.M. offerings, some law schools offer LL.M.s in Business Law, Company Law, and related topics such as Finance Law. While Corporate Law generally focuses on the legalities governing sale and distribution of goods in the market, Business Law usually covers mergers and acquisitions, formation of companies, and rights of shareholders. Attorneys who work in Finance Law, on the other hand, might help financial and banking institutions navigate the complex web of rules covering these areas.

Some programs allow students to take classes at the same university’s business school; for example, the University of Pennsylvania offers its LL.M. students a Business and Law Certificate, a custom-designed program taught by Wharton faculty and industry experts.

LL.M. students at University of Southern California can also take courses at the Marshall School of Business, although they aren’t counted toward their curriculum credits. University of New York’s LL.M. in Corporate Law also lets students take classes in the departments of finance or international business at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

In Spain, IE’s LL.M. in International Business allows students to earn a Certificate of Business Administration from IE Business School in addition to the LL.M. degree.

“Business is central to all of our programs, so we incorporate that culture of management and entrepreneurship to our curriculum,” says Heras. “It’s what the market is asking of us. Innovation is one of our core values, so it’s really important for us to keep our LL.M. students up to date.”

Students at IE’s LL.M. range from fresh law graduates to those who have already been working for a few years; most want a career in international law, to specialize in different jurisdictions and seek mobility from their country of origin, Heras adds.

In Germany, the Institute for Law and Finance at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main offers two LL.M.s in Finance—one specifically targeting students from Asia—that aim to overcome the traditional academic separation of law and business/economics. Courses include subjects like European and international corporate law, law on capital markets and securities, law of commercial banking and investment banking, as well as topics on European monetary policies and central banking.

Panagiota Bountrou, an admissions and recruitment manager at ILF, says that the school has seen an uptick in interest since Brexit was announced, with many applicants also coming from southern European countries in recent years.

Other schools blend their curriculum in different ways. The University of San Diego offers an LL.M. in Business and Corporate Law, although most of their international students choose to do the LL.M. in Comparative Law with a business concentration.

“That track is helpful for a foreign attorney—it has a little more relaxed GPA requirement and exam accommodations,” says Robynn Allveri, assistant director of graduate and international programs at USD.

Most applicants are fairly young attorneys, with up to three years of work experience, Allveri says; at least half are working at the time of application, and generally have the support—in terms of recommendation letters, etc.—of their employers. The school’s program tends to draw interest from applicants in the Middle East and Latin America a bit more than Europe or Asia, although the student base remains very diverse.

Changes in Corporate Law LL.M. curriculum

At USD, the LL.M. curriculum has seen in increase in focus around alternative dispute resolution over the years, Allveri says, as well as a slight pivot toward Asia-Pacific-related issues as a result of the Obama administration’s foreign policy shift and China’s current economic prowess.

“I’d say there’s generally been a move away from litigation, and more of a focus on arbitration or mediation in the corporate world,” she says. “International business and trade topics have also been taking a broader geographical approach.”

For Heras at IE, compliance has developed as a new focus as companies spend more to meet regulatory imperatives on areas like data privacy, financial crime and supply chain management.

“While  it’s still a base of international business law, compliance is a focal point we haven’t had before—and now it’s a really strong part of the program,” she says, taking note of the LL.M.’s law and technology module.

Is there a difference between European and US styles of curriculum for Corporate Law LL.M.s Heras says that European programs on the whole tend to be more theoretical, while those in the US take a more pragmatic approach.

“I would say the Anglo-American style is a bit more comparative; the methodology in the States is a lot more practical than in Spain,” she says. “At IE we use case methods developed by Harvard; we’ve always gone toward a more practical methodology, which is not common in Europe. When I went to law school it was mostly hearing a professor lecture.”

Job prospects for Corporate Law LL.M. students

Many corporate law LL.M. programs develop relationships with regional firms, opening doors for employment after graduation; Procopio, for instance, is a San Diego law firm that has been traditionally supportive of USD LL.M. graduates, Allveri says. The vast majority of USD's graduates go into private practice; recent alumni have gone on to work at large firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or Deloitte, while others returned to their home countries to seek other opportunities—one graduate went on to become dean of Kuwait’s international law school, and another now sits on the supreme court of Papua New Guinea.

[See all LL.M. Programs in Corporate Law]

It would help applicants if they can gain at least a year’s worth of work experience under their belt before applying—”to make sure that being in the corporate world is something that makes them happy, that they’re good at, before devoting money and resources into a program completely devoted to it,” Allveri says.

“I’ve seen quite a few students who went into it thinking, ‘oh that sounds like a good catch-all,’ and then it turns out that there’s maybe another area of law that’s more interesting to them, and they wish they could switch,” she adds. “Sometimes you can, but it’s tricky—if you switch mid-stream, you might not get enough credits to fulfill your requirement.”

Frankfurt’s Bountrou says that internships lend a crucial practical element to an LL.M. student’s education, and strengthens his or her job prospects. Heras agrees: “Law and business—everyone seems to think it’s a natural thing, but not everyone is very well-informed and trained enough to go into it,” she says. For IE alumni, most are now in consulting or legal advising for corporations.

“When I went to law school in Spain, I thought I knew what I needed to know about corporate law. But it’s not just understanding the law—it’s getting a bigger picture of how the world of business, accounting, finance, and management actually works.”


Photo: Cropped/Jochi/Man Made / Skyscraper

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/inside-llms-in-corporate-law Fri, 05 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[UK Student Visas for LL.M. Students]]> If you’re an international student who has a spot in a UK LL.M. program, you will probably need to apply for a student visa.

Visa applications can be daunting, but with a little advanced planning, they don’t have to be.

Here we speak to three student visa advisors at UK universities to find out what the Home Office (or immigration authorities) expect in an application, the financial requirements and what changes Brexit is expected to bring.

The University of Edinburgh.

“Currently, all European nationals have the right to study in the UK and thus they do not need to apply for a visa,” explains Ali McDonald, Assistant Head of International Student Support at the University of Edinburgh. “All other international students must apply for a Tier 4 (or general) student visa.” 

“To apply for a Tier 4 student visa, students are required to have an unconditional offer to study at a UK institution.”

On top of that, they need to meet the financial requirements.

“They need to be able to prove that they have the tuition fees, and that they have nine months’ living costs,” says Bethan Ovens, International Student Visa Advice Manager at the London School of Economics (LSE).

The living costs amount varies from place to place: for example in inner London, where LSE is based, students need to show they have 1,265 GBP per month, in addition to the LL.M. tuition fees.

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“It can only be in a personal bank account, or the bank account of a parent or legal guardian – they’re the only ones that the Home Office will recognize,” says Ovens. Furthermore, applicants need to use bank statements to prove that the full amount (LL.M. tuition fees plus living costs) has been in their bank account for 28 consecutive days, in order to convince the authorities they have sufficient funds.

According to Amy Hewitt, an Immigration Adviser at the University of Nottingham, the Home Office uses oanda.com for currency conversion – a good tip for those who are unsure whether they’ve got enough funds. 

However, not everyone needs to worry about covering the financial requirements themselves.

Hewitt says, “if your university has offered you a scholarship for tuition fees, or for your living expenses, then that means you don’t need to show this amount of money because you’re not funding yourself.”

“The other type of sponsorship that a student might have is from official financial sponsors such as the government, or an employer,” says Hewitt. 

“At the University of Nottingham quite a few students that come to us are funded by the government in their home country. So instead of having a bank statement to submit for their visa they would submit a sponsor letter, issued by their financial sponsor.”

Both Hewitt and Ali McDonald at the University of Edinburgh agree the most common reason they see for students’ visas being refused is for failing to meet the financial requirements. It’s worth starting early and putting in the hours to ensure you meet all the requirements on your first submission, to avoid any delays.

How long does the visa application process take?

Ali McDonald at the University of Edinburgh says, “generally speaking, the application process should take approximately three weeks to complete. However, this varies widely throughout the world. The Home Office have experienced delays in processing times this summer during the surge and thus applications were taking longer than expected.”

McDonald says applicants are able to submit their visa applications up to three months before their program start date, and it pays to get in early to account for any delays and minimize stress. 

Will Brexit have an impact on LL.M. student visas?

Although some Europe-based LL.M. applicants might be worrying about the effects of Brexit on the visa process, there’s nothing to fret about (yet.)

 “For the time being, the UK Immigration Rules in relation to international students have not changed due to Brexit,” says McDonald. “We are currently unsure what changes will be made that would impact the application process, if at all. It seems likely that European nationals may need to apply for a visa to study in the UK, however nothing is known for sure.”

McDonald says what they can say for now is that any new students from within the EU starting their studies in 2017 or 2018 will be able to retain EU tuition fees for the duration of their studies.

Post-LL.M. work opportunities and related visa issues

[Read more: Working in the UK after an LL.M.]

Many international students wish to stick around in the UK following their studies, in order to gain some international work experience, or land a dream job and take the next step in their careers.

For these students, the Tier 4 visa offers a bit of extra time after the LL.M. program has finished, so that they can look for work. 

The University of Nottingham.

According to Nottingham’s Amy Hewitt, “When a Tier 4 visa is issued for a course that’s 12 months or longer—as most LL.M. programs are—“UK Visas and Immigration allow some extra time at the end of the visa – in this case it’s four months extra.”

“So, for example, somebody starting an LL.M. in September 2018 would have a visa until the end of January 2020.”

“Throughout the duration of your studies it’s possible to work part time only, up to a max of 20 hours per week,” says Hewitt. “But once you have finished your course, you’ve got this four-month period – it’s classed as vacation time – and it’s possible to work full time in the UK on that visa during that four-month period.”

Fresh LL.M. graduates can use this time to look for work, take on some temp work while they continue their search, or intern somewhere to gain work experience.

Ali McDonald at the University of Edinburgh says that for Tier 4 students who wish to remain in the UK after their studies to work, “there are concessions in place to help make it easier to get a Tier 2 work visa” (The Tier 2 visa is the UK’s general employment visa for non-EU residents.)

“The application itself is straightforward, however the job market is very competitive and the position available must meet the requirements for a Tier 2 visa. For example, the salary must be at least 20,800 GBP, or the industry minimum, and the employer itself must be a Tier 2 sponsor,” explains McDonald. 

But her university is keen to see more international students sticking around post-study.

“The University of Edinburgh frequently collaborates with the Scottish Government to lobby for more opportunities for international students to remain in the UK and work after completing their studies.”


UK Tier 4 visa application for LL.M. students: basic requirements

To apply for a UK Tier 4 visa, you'll need to provide the following:

  • Your passport
  • Proof that you've been accepted into an LL.M. program
  • Proof that you can support yourself during the duration of the LL.M. (bank statements, letters of support, etc.)
  • The current fees plus a healthcare surcharge

Please check with the UK Home Office for up-to-date information on the Tier 4 visa application!


Images:

  • Old College, University of Edinburgh by the University of Edinburgh CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • The new Humanities Building on University Park, Nottingham by Matt Buck CC BY 2.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/uk-student-visas-for-llm-students Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions on Fashion Law—Susan Scafidi]]> Can you tell me a bit about the factors that went into the decision to launch the Fashion Law LL.M. and institute?

When I first defined fashion law as a field and then launched the Fashion Law Institute, our aim was to establish fashion law as a mainstream academic discipline alongside banking law, sports law, securities law, and other existing fields. I heard a lot of laughter at first, but our goal was achieved faster than I’d dreamed. A handful of schools around the world now offer courses in fashion law, and there are fashion law sections in bar associations and many fashion law practice groups in law firms.

The Fashion Law LL.M. grew out of our efforts to make our curriculum available to lawyers around the world who didn't go to Fordham for a J.D. Our initial response to the flood of requests was Fashion Law Bootcamp, our summer intensive courses in which attendees can either take the entirety of my Fashion Law course, or engage in in-depth study of a single issue, like fashion and technology. The Bootcamp is still going strong, and it’s a good way for those thinking about an LL.M. to start building their credentials in the field.

What's the general profile of students who take the LL.M. course?

Our Fashion Law LL.M.s come from around the world, but we’re particularly proud of the fact that we have roughly a 50/50 mix of international and domestic students. It’s unusual to have so many LL.M. students from the United States. The other students circle the globe, coming from countries like France, Venezuela, Japan, and Canada.

The education and work backgrounds of our students are also diverse. Some join our program directly from finishing their first law degrees; others have worked in law firms, fashion companies, and other roles—and many are still doing so while they pursue their LL.M. degrees on a part-time basis. But they all share the common goal of furthering their careers through in-depth training and gaining new contacts in the industry.

Where have the graduates gone on to work, and where is the most demand for this line of work in particular?

Our graduates have been brought on board in a range of places. Fashion brands, law firms, fashion-related non-profits, even companies that are not primarily fashion brands but are expanding into the fashion space. Serving as in-house counsel or establishing a fashion law practice are perhaps that most familiar options, but there are other tracks our alumni are taking as well, such as working for a company that provides brand protection or using legal expertise in a broader management position.

Anyone interested in pursuing a Fashion Law LL.M. should think about areas that are vital to the industry but that might not be the most popular subjects for blog posts and Instagram. Admiralty and maritime law may sound esoteric, but that’s shipping, and in an industry as global as fashion, there’s always need for lawyers who know how to move dresses and handbags across borders. Licensing is only growing; several years ago we had a panel featuring the first Game of Thrones jewelry, and since then licensed pop-culture fashion has become an industry in itself. And don’t forget privacy law—every time credit card number is stolen, another legislator asks retailers and their lawyers why.

All of which is to say that fashion law is more than intellectual property, knockoffs, and counterfeits—that’s where I personally started, but it has alwaysbro been much bigger than that.

What are some of the biggest legal challenges facing the fashion industry today?

Today’s biggest legal challenges reflect the broader challenges facing the industry as a whole. Technology has a been a central driving force: it’s not only creating cheaper, quicker, and higher quality means of copying, but it's also giving rise to substantial concerns over data privacy, supply chain monitoring, finance (for example fintech and alternative currencies), and the uncertain future of brick and mortar retail and the real estate it occupies.

Fashion brands are also attracting considerable attention from investors with little to no previous connections to the industry; not understanding the language of contracts common among tech companies and investment banks can be disastrous. A designer who thinks that she is just getting a much-needed financial boost or has entered into a short-term collaboration could wake up to discover that she has lost her entire company—and even her name.

Are there any misconceptions about being a lawyer in the fashion industry that you'd like to address or debunk? Also: what advice would you give to prospective LL.M. students looking to break into the industry?

The advice that I gave law students on my original fashion law blog, Counterfeit Chic, still holds true today. Fashion law isn’t about shopping and celebrities, and you definitely should not pattern yourself after Elle Woods from Legally Blonde or be the billionth person to announce that you have “a passion for fashion.” Designers and brands are looking, first and foremost, for attorneys who understand their business and the law.

Study the industry. Learn about design. Excel at law. Most of all, make yourself valuable. The most important thing about you is not that you want to be hired, but that you can help designers, fashion houses, and stakeholders in the industry accomplish their goals.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/5-questions-on-fashion-law-susan-scafidi Mon, 13 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions for a Public International Law LL.M. Graduate: Dainyah Mason]]> Can you tell me a bit about your process of choosing a PIL program? 

I actually always knew I’d wanted to do international law, even before starting my undergraduate degree. And it’s pretty important to have an MA in International Law to even get into that career, so I decided to do that. My undergrad was also in England—I thought at the time to maybe move to Europe, broaden my horizons a bit. So I just googled it, and Leiden was one of the top programs that came up, being near the Hague and all that. 

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Within international law, I was pretty interested in human rights; at Leiden you can choose to do general international law or humanitarian law. I did the latter. I really was considering applying to Utrecht University or Maastricht University, but in the end decided to put all my chips on one horse, so I only applied to Leiden. At the time I also wanted to take time off before becoming a student—Leiden’s program started in February, instead of September.

What was your favorite aspect of the program—and conversely, what were some things you felt were drawbacks?

I think the first thing that comes to mind is meeting all these other people, law students who were interested in international law. Overall, law students don’t exactly get a good reputation—being over-competitive, getting well-paid jobs—so it was really cool to meet a bunch of law students who were the opposite of that, who actually cared about making the world a better place instead of just making money. 

As for the curriculum itself, I thought it was really interesting—and since I did the human rights track, I liked that there was one that was focused on contemporary issues. You got to do your own research in areas you’re already interested in, so that aspect of it allows you to pursue what you’re already passionate about. For one of the final papers, for instance, I wrote about nanotechnology and laws that regulate what weapons you’re allowed to use. That was really fun to research. You can get weapons that can affect people on such a significant level, and it’s like, how is that even allowed? It’s not even mass weapons—you’re dealing with nanotechnology, and yet the impact on people is detrimental.

Maybe one of the drawbacks of the course is that for the general track, which most people end up choosing, you don’t get as much depth in those fields as you’d like. On the other hand they do get to explore a bit more—you can go on to do environmental law, space law, or law of the sea, topics like that. 

[See the Top 10 LL.M. Programs for Public International Law]

Living in Leiden was great—it’s a really lovely place. Beautiful, very historical. It’s a pretty nice location to do a one-year program.

What’s your job now, and how are you applying the things you learned in your LL.M. directly to your current work? 

After my program ended I moved to the Hague for a bit, doing an internship at the Antonio Cassese Initiative—a Dutch NGO based in Amsterdam. Of course I also had a job, since none of the internships are paid. 

Right now I’m a bit in between; I’ll be moving to London in September to do the preparation for the bar so I can practice as a lawyer. So for now I’m working in something completely unrelated to international law, trying to save up while I’m down here [in the British Virgin Islands] to be able to afford living in London. It’s a really long career path in international law, so it’s ideal to get some experience built up; so what I’ll do is get a job as a lawyer practicing something related to the field, just to get the experience under my belt—and also not to have to sell my soul for a few years before getting into it properly. It’s like a five-year plan—a long and winding path. There’s really not a direct way to go about it. 

Do you think the LLM was worth it, or really needed for what you wanted to do?

I do. It was really enjoyable, I had a great time, and I also feel that I learned a lot. The other important thing about it is that you meet a lot of people—in this field, networking is really important. And it’s the perfect place to do that—the Hague, where all the international courts are. 

Now that you’re on the other side, what advice would you give prospective LL.M. students looking to study PIL? Any personal regrets, or things you wish you’d done before going into it? 

You know, I decided to really focus on my studies when I started, so I went into it a bit like, “I’m not going to meet anyone”—I just studied, and didn’t really go out that much. So I’d say embrace that party side of it, it’s also a really important part of the whole experience. Go to the events, chat with some of those important people—you never know who you might end up talking to. 
 


Photo: Cropped/Maarten/DSC_0049/CC BY 2.0/Headshot courtesy of Dainyah Mason

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/5-questions-for-a-public-international-law-llm-graduate-dainyah-mason Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[A Dive Into Public International Law LL.M.s]]> Globalization. Forced migration. The devastation of climate change. Such seismic shifts are bringing a renewed focus to LL.M.s in Public International Law—the body of rules that govern interactions between countries and other entities.

For Dainyah Mason, an avid volleyball player born and raised in the British Virgin Islands, a longstanding interest in international law drove her to pursue the University of Leiden’s LL.M. in public international law.

“I actually always knew I’d wanted to do international law, even before starting my undergraduate degree, so it was quite a straightforward decision, really,” says Mason, who completed her undergraduate law degree from the University of Kent in England. 

Once at Leiden, she chose the Human Rights track, which focused on contemporary issues and allowed her to delve into her own research passions.

“I really was considering applying to Utrecht University or Maastricht University, but in the end decided to put all my chips on one horse, so I only applied to Leiden.”

Indeed, with issues like the European migration crisis and Brexit making waves across the geopolitical landscape, the specialization is experiencing a resurgence in relevance. And LL.M. programs have in turn taken a closer look at the areas in which lawyers will be most needed, ranging from human rights law to jurisdictional issues with the implications of Brexit and increasing protectionist policies in the US. 

[See the Top 10 LL.M. Programs for Public International Law]

“As Brexit unfolds, issues as to jurisdiction will multiply as will the overlap of public international and international commercial law,” says Katherine Reece Thomas, LL.M. program director at The City Law School of the City University of London. “Issues to do with the use of force continue to be very fast moving and highly important.”

A selection of Public International Law LL.M. programs

Europe boasts a strong list of Public International Law LL.M.s, with proximity to the Hague and other international arbitration bodies. Leiden, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht, SOAS University of London, and Maastricht often figure among the top choices for prospective students. 

In the US, New York University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, Harvard University and Yale all have strong public international law LL.M. programs. Some have explicit focuses; Fordham University School of Law, for instance, has taken an angle in human rights. Its International Law and Justice LL.M. specialization was developed within the framework of Fordham Law's Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, which has a strong research interest in international human rights.  

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The majority of its LL.M. student body is international, with students from more than 40 countries each semester, according to Marty Slavens, graduate admissions officer at Fordham. “Our faculty have developed relationships with judges from Ghana, so we often receive a number of students from this country,” says Slavens. 

But others LL.M.s attract students from different locations. City University merged its commercial law and Public Law LL.M. programs; its students are mostly from Europe, especially Greece, France, and Cyprus. Reece Thomas says that one of the big issues in the field has been dispute settlement in international investment law: whether the traditional system of arbitration panels will be maintained, or if court-like systems will dominate. Her students have written dissertations about the nature of the protections in investment treaties, addressing whether these are too much in favor of investors, or viewed as legitimate in terms of transparency and fairness. 

“Dispute settlement in investment law, including procedural matters like costs and access, tends to be popular,” Reece Thomas says. “Students also enjoy writing about the investment laws of their home states, particularly Middle Eastern students who seek to evaluate the effectiveness of their countries’ legal regimes.”

But public international law can touch on many other issues.

For example, for one of her final papers at Leiden, Mason wrote about nanotechnology and laws that regulate what weapons states are allowed to use. 

“That was really fun to research,” she recalls. “You can get weapons that can affect people on such a significant level, and it’s like, how is that even allowed? It’s not even mass weapons—you’re dealing with nanotechnology, and yet the impact on people is detrimental.”

Post-LL.M. jobs in public international law

Reece Thomas says that some of her students have gone on to work for international law firms like Linklaters and Baker & McKenzie; many also return to their previous jobs they held before going to City on leave, often from governmental roles in their home countries. One student became counsel for an energy company located in London, while a number of others went to work for international NGOs—such as Transparency International, Amnesty International, and Oxfam—and doing internships with the International Maritime Organisation. 

Fordham’s Vivian Leitner Global South LL.M. Scholars Program specifically grants their scholarship on the condition that awardees return to their home countries, leading many back home to continue their career after the LL.M.

Dainyah Mason herself moved to the Hague for a while after completing her LL.M. in February, doing an internship at the Antonio Cassese Initiative—a Dutch NGO based in Amsterdam. In September, she’ll move to London to prepare for the bar so she can practice as a lawyer in the UK. 

“It’s a really long career path in international law, so it’s ideal to get some experience built up; so what I’ll do is get a job as a lawyer practicing something related to the field, just to get the experience under my belt,” Mason says. “It’s like a five-year plan—a long and winding path. There’s really not a direct way to go about it.”


Photo: Cropped/INA-DENIA/CC BY-SA 4.0

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/a-dive-into-public-international-law-llms Wed, 30 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Juris Masters, MSLs and Beyond: Master of Laws Programs for Non-Law Graduates]]> For many potential students looking for master’s programs in law, the LL.M. stands out as the degree to get.

But what about for those who don’t have a background in law? That’s where degrees like the Juris Master (JM) come in.

“The LL.M. is the degree designed for people who already hold a first degree in law,” explains Lynn Labuda, Director for Graduate Programs at Emory University School of Law. “The Juris Master program is designed for people who are not lawyers, who do not hold that first law degree. So they're generally working professionals who want to enhance their knowledge of the law as it relates to what they do.”

Indeed, many LL.M. students have generally graduated with a Juris Doctor (JD), and may have even sat a bar exam, and are therefore able to practice law. 

“But our JM students are not able to sit for a bar exam. They can't practice the law. They can't give legal advice. But what they do is they enhance their knowledge of the law.” 

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In addition to JM programs, some law schools also offer Master of Studies in Law (MSL) or Master of Legal Studies (MLS) programs, which are also designed for non-law professionals looking to skill up in law.

This fall Pepperdine University School of Law is welcoming the inaugural class of the online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program. 

“Our program is aimed at people who are interested in knowing more about the law but aren’t necessarily interested in becoming lawyers themselves,” says Jim Gash, Associate Dean at Pepperdine School of Law.

Gash says while most students are expecting to return to their own sectors following graduation, the 16-month program can serve as a way for students to find out whether further study of the law may interest them.

He says the MLS program answers questions like “‘What is a tort? What are the aspects of a contract?’ As opposed to, ‘How do I write contracts? How do I litigate contracts?’”

“So the program offers a higher level of generality.”

Like LL.M.s, JMs and other programs aimed at non-law graduates are sometimes offered with concentrations, where students can delve into a specific area of law. 

Emory Law, for example, offers a number of concentrations, ranging from business law to real estate law, media law and human rights law.

I would say our most popular concentrations on the JM side are health and the health care industry. Also employment law – we get a lot of human resource directors and people in human resources that want to enhance their knowledge about employment law, labor law, disability law, discrimination, immigration, veteran's benefits etc.” says Labuda.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "Pursuing an LL.M. Without a Background in Law", "link": "/articles/pursuing-an-llm-without-a-background-in-law"}%

Indeed, for many human resources professionals, having a solid understanding of employment laws and other legal topics can go a long way.

Labuda says human resources leaders need to be “someone who has that hands-on, professional experience, the HR certifications and education, but also the legal education that supports human resources”. 

She says she has seen Juris Masters programs become increasingly popular. “These non-JD masters programs such as Juris Masters have definitely grown over the past five years,” she says.

Many US law schools are broadening their nets by offering Juris Masters programs to cater to non-law grads who have an interest in legal studies.

Aside from Emory Law, law programs for non-lawyers have also opened up at Florida State University, UC Hastings, Drexel University, Appalachian State University in North Carolina, and even at Yale University, where the Master of Legal Studies program caters to these kinds of students.

Additionally, Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) also offers an MLS program, both in-class and online.

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Private Christian institution Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers a Juris Master program online, allowing working professionals to add legal credentials to their portfolios without having to compromise work commitments.

Yuri Mantilla, Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law says their Juris Master program attracts “students from diverse backgrounds including industry, government, law firm administrators, Christian ministries, members of the military, recent graduates from the fields of political science, business, journalism, and paralegal studies, among others.”

Liberty Law’s Juris Master degree is a relatively new program; the first class graduated in May this year. Students have the choice between two programs of study: American Legal Studies or International Legal Studies.

A master of laws program for non-law graduates in Toronto

It's not just law schools in the US that offer JMs and other master's-level programs aimed at non-law graduates. For example, law schools in the UK might offer MSc or MA degrees in law-related areas like regulation, dispute resolution, or the healthcare field, for example. 

In Canada, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law is home to two such programs, with the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) program catering specifically to academics from other fields.

“The kind of student that the program tends to attract is normally people who have been doing academic research that involves law but they do not have formal legal training,” explains Mariana Mota Prado, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

“We often get professors, sometimes tenured professors, from other departments – sociology, criminology, anthropology – whose primary subject of study is the law. They come here and spend an entire year taking not only courses from the first year curriculum, but also engaging with people who do research in law.”

Alongside the MSL, the school also runs a program called the Global Professional Master of Laws (or GPLLM for short).

This is a masters that's targeted at professionals and it does not require someone to have a law degree in order to attend the program and pursue this degree,” says Mota Prado.

The GPLLM began with a Business Law concentration. From September 2017 two additional concentrations will be available, in Canadian Law in a Global Context, and Innovation Law and Technology. 

In September 2018, the school plans to add a fourth concentration to the GPLLM, which will combine legal understanding with leadership skills.


Images:

  • Matheson Reading Room at Emory University in Atlanta, GA by Mpspqr CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Falconer Hall at the University of Toronto School of Law by Daderot CC BY 2.0

 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/juris-masters-msls-and-beyond-master-of-laws-programs-for-non-law-graduates Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[How the Trump Ban Will Affect LL.M. Students]]> On June 29, the US Supreme upheld a controversial temporary travel ban that would bar citizens from six countries and all refugees from entering the United States. 

The decision came after months of legal wrangling; an original ban, released on January 27, had included Iraq on the list of barred nations and imposed a full ban on refugees from Syria, sparking mass protests across the US. President Donald Trump issued a revised version with a narrower scope on March 6, and it was left in limbo after being struck down by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland.

However, this June measure will be upheld, instituting a 90-day travel ban for people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, as well as a 120-day suspension of admittance to refugees. 

The ruling will bar those from entering unless they have a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity" in the country—meaning a parent, spouse, fiancé, child, son or daughter-in-law, or sibling could be exempt, although grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws, extended family and grandchildren were not spared from the ban. 

How does the Trump travel ban affect LL.M. students and applicants?

News of the ban spurred a climate of anxiety amongst immigrants and those seeking to settle or study in the country. But how will it actually affect those hoping to pursue an LL.M. degree in the US?

“The ban really has more of a fear effect than actually presenting a problem,” says Kelly Stump, an immigration lawyer who heads up her own law firm in Oklahoma City. "People are afraid of rejection, but they ultimately want the education here in the United States, so they continue to apply.” 

And so far, it doesn’t seem as if the ruling has concretely affected law school application volumes. Erin Weldon, director of admissions at University of California Berkeley’s advanced degree programs, says that the school’s LL.M. application numbers have actually risen 12 percent from last year. 

“We are still processing admissions and enrollment for the coming year, but so far it seems that we will be able to reach our normal class numbers,” says Weldon. 

However, she adds that the LL.M. admissions team “has noticed more anxiety in general among applicants regarding the visa application process, entry into the US, and safety once they arrive, although the number of applicants expressing concern is still very low compared to the overall applicant pool.”  

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The regions that the admissions team has received the most concern from are the Middle East and India, although Weldon says the anxiety hasn’t been large or overwhelming in scale.  

Additionally, the ruling hasn’t seemed to affect any international students who have already enrolled. “None of our current or incoming students have been denied their visa or entry into the country that we know of,” Weldon adds. The majority of fall 2017 LL.M. admits will be applying for their visas over the coming months, and the school will monitor the process for any unusual rejections.

One stipulation of the ruling is that those with links to employers or educational institutions inside the country would qualify to enter, assuring visas to those already admitted to LL.M. programs. 

In response to the ban, Berkeley made it a point to issue school-wide communications reinforcing the institution’s support of international students, issuing the following statement to the LL.M. community:

“Berkeley Law affirms its commitment to a diverse, inclusive, welcoming community of scholars and professionals from around the world. Our student body and alumni encompass many ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations. We fully support international students in reaching their goal of a Berkeley Law LL.M. degree, despite the current political uncertainty about U.S. immigration policy.”

Debunking the myths

The uncertainties around the provisions of the actual legislation has understandably created a maelstrom of confusion and worry, but not all the rumors surrounding the policy are true. 

Stump says she has heard from people claiming they are no longer eligible for visas, even though they are not from countries on the travel ban. “This is not true,” Stump clarifies.  

“Also, I had a client tell me he was thinking of canceling his summer return trip home in fear that he would get ‘stuck’ and not be able to return,” she adds. “We (immigration lawyers) have not heard of any talk about expanding the travel ban.”

But the measure, and the general US political climate around immigration, will inevitably lead many to reconsider the US as a study destination. 

Stump says she’s seen clients—not necessarily students—looking at Canadian immigration options as a result of the political changes in the US. 

“You have Trump, who has set a tone that the United States is not interested in immigrants, as they don’t make ‘America Great Again’; and then you see Canada opening borders and encouraging immigrants to apply,” Stump says. “If they choose to immigrate to Canada permanently, we (the US) could be missing out on some amazing talent—especially in any [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] profession.”
 


Photo: Modified DMAUSA/CC BY-SA 4.0

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/how-the-trump-ban-will-affect-llm-students Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M. Applications: The Personal Statement]]> While it’s only one of many elements going into an LL.M. application, the personal statement can be a tricky one to master. 

Many law schools are not very specific about the requirements for the personal statement, aside from word count. Georgetown University Law Center, for instance, asks applicants to describe their background, goals, and reasons for applying to the program; Stanford is looking for information about the applicant’s experience in legal practice, interest in graduate study, and professional goals.

“To be honest we are purposefully broad in our description because we want applicants to have the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they see fit,” says Justin Swinsick, director of graduate admissions at Georgetown. 

“However, applicants should think about what they would say to the admissions committee if they were sat in front of them and had the chance to highlight the very best things about themselves and how the program and school will take them where they want to go.”  

Other law schools are more explicit; Northwestern asks applicants to answer two essay questions, while Harvard requires a two-part statement—one addressing a theoretical framework or analysis to a current legal problem, and another that says something about the applicant’s motivations for the LL.M. and how it relates to his/her future plans.

This year, University of Pennsylvania also updated its personal statement requirement to include a bit more guidance, calling for a statement of no more than two pages, and specifically recommending that the applicant avoid repeating his/her CV. 

For some schools, like Trinity College Dublin, the personal statement is optional; around 10 to 15 percent of each year’s pool of applicants sends one as part of their applications, according to Kelley McCabe, senior executive officer of the School of Law at Trinity.

“We’re looking for further insight into the applicant's current research interests and their career plans and goals for the future,” she says. “But we focus mostly on academic transcripts, the two academic references and the applicant's CV.”

“These documents give us a holistic picture of the applicant.” 

Tackling the LL.M. personal statement

One of the cornerstone pieces of advice is: be specific. Admissions officers read many personal statements, and you want yours to stand out in their memories. 

“Spend some time really thinking about why you want to get an LL.M.” and why that specific program fits this reason, says Elise Kraemer, director of graduate programs at UPenn.

Be honest and open about yourself; you could be moved to write about an inspirational figure in your life, an important event, or even about the school itself—which is fine, as long as you direct the statement back to you, Georgetown’s Swinsick recommends. 

Kraemer agrees: “Although a personal and/or family stories can be moving, if you use one, be sure that it directly supports your application.”

Sometimes, a well-justified directness can pay off. Swinsick says one applicant start her statement by writing that she wanted to pursue an LL.M. in order to make as much money as possible. “This was certainly an unusual way to start and played into negative stereotypes of why one pursues legal education,” Swinsick recalls. But she went on to tie this into how she planned to leverage her legal studies, career and financial success into bringing help and visibility to problems plaguing her community in a developing country.  

“It was very well written, highlighted her best qualities, and tied together why she wanted to pursue the program and why Georgetown’s program in particular would help her achieve her goals.” 

Mistakes to avoid in your personal statement

While it’s a good thing to be personal, don’t overdo it either. “Some of the more colorful statements I have read entail very personal details that usually would only be shared with clergy, partners or close personal friends,” Swinsick says.

And polish is key: proofread, check your word limit, and make sure it looks as professional as possible. For Kraemer, a minor typographical or grammatical error—especially from non-native speakers—is not a deal-breaker, but a statement that is “poorly written or contains unprofessional content” can be. 

“Take some time to work on it,” Kraemer says. “Don’t leave it to the last minute.”

And the resounding consensus from every law school is: always, always check the name of the school at the top of the page. Every year, every admission committee receives personal statements addressed to the wrong school. “I tend to be relatively forgiving on this one, but it never looks good,” Kraemer says. 

How much does your personal statement matter?

The value of the personal statement can vary from school to school, but in general, a strong one can significantly bolster the merit of an application. 

“It’s the only communication that we receive in the applicant’s own voice and is one of the best ways for the committee to ‘get to know’ the person applying,” says Kraemer. “It is not uncommon for a personal statement to have a significant impact on how we evaluate a candidate—a particularly strong or weak statement can be determinative.”

It can also afford an opportunity for the applicant to explain or put in context to the admissions committee a negative element of their application—a poor grade or language score, for instance. And this effort will show; an applicant that puts time and thought into their personal statement shows that they are serious about pursuing graduate legal education, Swinsick says.

“A personal statement is just that—personal,” says McCabe. “It gives the admissions committee a sense of who the applicant is so, when writing it, they should be true to themselves.”

LL.M. personal statement quick tips

  • Be specific. Address why you want to get an LL.M. and your career goals.
  • Be honest, about your background and the reasons for applying for an LL.M.
  • Address any negative elements of your application, such as a low TOEFL or ITELTS score.
  • Make sure to proofread your personal statement and check your word count.
  • Make sure that you've addressed the statement to the right law school.
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-applications-the-personal-statement Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[What Can I Do With An LL.M.?]]> Many students find an LL.M. is a great way to add new skills to their law toolkit. The degree can also present some interesting career opportunities. Read about some recent LL.M. graduates and what they did with their degrees.

An LL.M. isn’t required to practice law, so many potential students may wonder whether the degree is worth the investment.

In fact, beyond helping to develop new skills—and perhaps learn about a new concentration—an LL.M. might also open some new doors, career-wise.

Here we meet three Masters of Law and chart their career paths following graduation.

Practicing competition law in the heart of Europe

Adélaïde Nys

Adélaïde Nys was studying for a Master of Laws at Ghent University, in her native Belgium, when she decided to take an additional year to study on the College of Europe’s European Law and Economic Analysis program.

This is an optional one-year program for LL.M. students that allows both law and economics students to gain a better understanding of the other discipline. On that program, taught in Bruges, Belgium, Nys found her grounding in competition law and scored her first job in time for graduation in summer 2015.

“I found my job during my second semester at the College of Europe,” says Nys. “It was a six-month traineeship in an international law firm in Brussels that was mainly doing competition law.”

After spending a year in that role, she switched to Crowell & Moring LLP where she still puts her competition law skills into practice in Brussels.

She says her regular tasks include advising clients on their market behavior, researching these issues and discussing them with other lawyers in the field and also performing litigation services.

“A typical day would be: you come into the office and you know more or less what you have to do with the deadlines you receive, but you will have to do a little bit of advice, a little bit of preparation to defend your client in front of the competition authorities, whether European or the Belgian authorities here, and then you will do some research and draft some emails to obtain the correct information for the client,” says Nys.

“We have a lot of hearings, but we also have to deal with dawn raids – the surprise investigations that happen in on our clients’ premises.”

Nys says one of the skills from the College of Europe’s program she’s been able to apply to her work is the ability to adapt to different cultural working styles.

“[At the College] we had the more Anglo-Saxon way of teaching and then the more Continental way of teaching, and that was very interesting in the way it gave us the skills to be very flexible,” she says.

“Being able to switch from one way of teaching and one system of learning law to another has permitted me to be very adaptive when I meet a client for the first time,” she says.

“It opens the mind so you’re less overwhelmed when you meet a client – you’re better equipped to think outside the box.”

Lobbying Europe’s most powerful institutions

As the capital of the European Union, and home to the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament (part-time), Brussels is an attractive location for LL.M. graduates to find work as lawyers.

While many European LL.M. graduates like Nys find work in Brussels law firms, others land on the lobbying side of the city.

Sarah Wagner

German LL.M. graduate Sarah Wagner did a Bachelor in European Studies at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, which is where she found her interest in legal studies.

“During my Bachelor I realized that I really liked the law part and that’s why I decided to do my Masters in International and European Law,” at Maastricht University, says Wagner.

During the program, she was able to get some international experience: during the second year she studied in Hong Kong and Toronto.

Following graduation in 2016, Wagner is now a Digital Sustainability Policy Assistant at Digital Europe in Brussels.

[Read: 7 Reasons Why Lawyers do an LL.M.]

“Digital Europe represents the digital technology industry,” she says. “On the one hand we have national associations, and on the other hand we have companies including IT, telcos and consumer electronics companies.”

Wagner works in the organization’s digital sustainability team.

“We deal with waste policy and supply chain policies, so for example, conflict minerals, chemicals in our products, as well as eco design, which is about energy and materials, the efficiency of the products of our members,” she explains.

Wagner’s advocacy role means she works to understand legislation being made in Brussels that affects Digital Europe’s members and then her job is to find compromises between those members so she and her team can publish position papers and commentary on their behalf.

“Then I’m also actively involved in outreach processes. I contact, for example, policy officers at the [European] Commission or MEPs in the [European] Parliament. So we go there and present our position papers or comments and discuss our positions with them.”

Wagner says her LL.M. gave her a deep understanding of how European institutions fit together, how to form legal arguments and a better understanding of how laws are made.

“I gained profound knowledge of how the EU functions: decision-making, policy-making, ‘comitology’ and EU competences,” she says. Comitology is the set of procedures European Union member states use to control how EU law is implemented.

“Knowing exactly which institution or agency does what is extremely helpful in tailoring your lobbying activities,” says Wagner. “If you don’t know the procedures and the rights and duties of the actors involved it is difficult to influence the process accordingly.”

Solidifying a successful legal career

Not all LL.M. students jump straight in after completing their Bachelors.

Many return to school after successful careers in law.

Lucas Loviscek

“I was practicing international arbitration and dispute resolution as a senior counsel in one of the leading law firms in Argentina,” says Lucas Loviscek.

“I had the opportunity to do my LL.M. at Georgetown after having practiced for many years, which gave me the chance of enhancing my skills and knowledge and put them into practice just after the LL.M. with great results.”

During his time at Georgetown, Loviscek pursued a Certificate in International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution.

Following his LL.M. study, Loviscek was able to find a new role at a top Washington DC law firm, working on international cases.

“After graduation I joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, a leading force in business litigation and arbitration,” says Loviscek. “I have been practicing international arbitration in Quinn Emanuel for almost two years, having the chance to represent important clients in high stake disputes around the world.”

“The LL.M. at Georgetown gave me the chance to both continue improving my skills in the field and also acquire a broader and comprehensive knowledge of business and investment which I consider critical in the practice of international arbitration,” says Loviscek.

He says the networking opportunities on the program were also a highlight. “In the LL.M. I met amazing colleagues from all around the globe creating an impressive international network and making friends for life.”


Top image: Belgique - Bruxelles - Basilique de Koekelberg by Antonio Ponte CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/what-can-i-do-with-an-llm Mon, 10 Jul 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions for a Tech Lawyer—Patrick Gibbs]]> With tech companies and startups facing increasing scrutiny over issues like privacy law and data protection, future tech lawyers have a lot to prepare for entering the sector. We sat down with Patrick Gibbs, in-house legal counsel at a technology startup in San Francisco, to talk shop about a career in the space and what lawyers can anticipate on the job. Although Gibbs has not done an LL.M., LL.M. students studying technology law can expect to touch on a lot of the issues discussed here.

How did you get to your current position?

I got my JD from Northwestern in 2012, clerked in bankruptcy court for a year, and then began working for Reed Smith. I left the law firm without a job lined up, but was fairly well connected from living in San Francisco and had been working on some side projects. A few friends starting asking me to handle some legal issues for them—I’d been working on a number of projects in the meantime, but eventually I took on so much work with these guys that I became a part of the team. Once they raised a new round [of venture funding], they had enough space to hire me full-time, and I joined.

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What are your main responsibilities as in-house counsel?

I’m head of legal operations for a company called KeepTruckin, which provides a modern fleet management and electronic logs platform for commercial vehicles. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. I review all contracts, draft our terms of service, and work with the operations team on things like our ordering processes, making sure we’re getting people to agree to the right terms so we can ship out orders and get the right people paid. It’s an ongoing process as the business matures and space matures. But I also regularly interface with larger law firms on different matters if I need help and advice, you know, to make sure I’m not doing something stupid. This includes anything from our terms of service through different deal structures. I don’t run things like fundraising, however—we have a law firm to make sure that process is airtight. If there’s ever an M&A deal or a corporate matter, I’d be working in conjunction—but things like diligence and deal structuring would mostly be for them.

What are some new things you’ve learned at a startup that you hadn’t encountered in law school or previous work before?

I hadn’t worked much on terms of use and privacy policies before, so I’ve done a lot of consulting with people, reading other company’s terms and reviewing the law to make sure we’re doing things in compliance. I’m also working on a lot of partnership agreements—figuring out how to weigh each party’s obligations and risks. I’ve drafted a lot of that from scratch just by reading other people’s documents and figuring out how we’re going to work, and building our own terms. I’ve dealt with commercial agreements in the past, but now it’s really delving deep into these legal clauses that a lot of people will think are boiler plate; I have to think about them, do extensive research, and make sure we know exactly what terms we want in there. When I was at a law firm, I’d always read up on that to make sure it made sense and the references were correct, but someone else above me would be accounting for the substance more.

 [Read: A Fresh Look at Technology LL.M.s]

We’re also dealing a lot with marketing issues—consumer issues, making sure there aren’t unfair competition practices, which I wasn’t super familiar with previously. I studied a wide scale of things in law school, but studying just gives you a general overview. Working at a law firm gave me a lot of experience that I didn’t think was relevant then that I definitely know is now. Partners would give me documents and say, “read this and tell me what’s weird.” But that’s my job now—making sure there’s nothing weird, throwing in things that we need protection for. That experience at the firm and the guidance and mentorship from the partners there was invaluable.

What’s the typical path of a law student who wants to go in-house, and how does it compare with your own experience?

I think a lot of people typically want get out of law firms, although it really depends on the person—some will definitely prefer the stability of a firm. You can find one that won’t crush you, and clients that are cool. I actually really liked the clients and people at Reed Smith [LLP]. I went into renewable energy initially thinking I’d lateral out and go work for a energy company, and from there branch out of the legal team and go into business development or something that touches legal but would allow me to spread my wings a little more than I could being siloed as a lawyer. But I also have a lot of friends who went to tech-focused law firms like Fenwick & West [LLP], Gunderson [Dettmer], Cooley [LLP], and Wilson Sonsini [Goodrich & Rosati]. Once you’re an associate for a client for a while and they need to hire a lawyer, you’re in a good position—you know their business, you’ve been working deeply in their documents, so you know their templates. You can always use your old law firm as your outside counsel; but you’d be going in and dealing more with the day-to-day operations, and if you need something bigger, you can ask your former partners. That’s kind of been the standard operating procedure for someone going straight out of law school who wants to work in-house.

Do you think a Tech LL.M. is worth the time?

I’d think a tech LL.M. would probably be useful, but for the price point not worth it. Although it could be valuable from a marketing perspective—if you’re trying to market yourself and having trouble finding the job you want. But I’m not a very good example. I was trying to get out of law, and now I’m a lawyer at a startup.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/5-questions-for-a-tech-lawyer-patrick-gibbs Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[A Fresh Look at Technology LL.M.s]]> Just this week, the CEO of ride-sharing app Uber resigned after a spate of legal scandals, marking one of the biggest shakeups in Silicon Valley.

The move happened after the company had been grappling with issues ranging from allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, an intellectual property lawsuit from a competitor, and a federal inquiry into a software tool that Uber used to sidestep law enforcement.

The issues highlight the myriad legal precedents lawyers in the industry are facing with increasing scrutiny. Law schools have taken a cue on the increased need for courses and LL.M. specializations in technology law, and in past years many have expanded their offerings in the field. North America has a plethora of programs, including ones at Harvard, University of Ottawa, and Stanford, which has an LL.M. in Law, Science & Technology limited to students with a law degree earned outside the US and at least two years of professional experience.

While it isn’t a full LL.M. program focused solely on tech law, University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Law & Technology offers a specialized certificate program for LL.M. students that recognizes completion of a study course focused on technology law. Jim Dempsey, executive director of the institute, says that since technology-related law has long been one of the defining focuses of its law school program, “it has been only logical that tech law has been an important component of our LL.M. program.” The number of tech-related courses has grown each year, Dempsey adds.

Indeed, this is a growing field. Over the past few years a number of law schools have introduced LL.M. programs in technology and related fields. In 2016, Cornell Law School launched an LL.M. in Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, on its New York City Campus. Other schools, such as NYU and Loyola Law School, have launched specialized programs in Cybersecurity.

And it’s not just US-based law schools. Europe also has quite a few programs specializing in the intersection of law and technology; the University of Tilburg, in the Netherlands, has a Law and Technology LL.M couched in the university’s Institute for Law, Technology and Society. The University of Edinburgh offers an LL.M. in Innovation, Technology and Law that explores the role of the law in responding to and regulating new and emerging technologies.

How LL.M. programs are addressing hot topics in technology law

Some of the most relevant issues in the sector have been consumer-facing, as companies are constantly navigating the legalities of new technologies that collect burgeoning amounts of data.

“Clearly, privacy and data security issues loom large, as cybersecurity touches every sector,” says Dempsey, who adds that there are a growing number of legal and policy issues at the intersection of big data, algorithms, machine learning and other artificial intelligence.

“At the same time, intellectual property protection still poses many challenges, as the Patent Office and the courts continue to struggle over issues associated with software and life sciences, to name just two sectors where IP law remains in flux.”

David Collins, LL.M. program director at City University of London, agrees, noting that the biggest challenges in technology law relate to privacy and data protection and associated issues of legal privilege.

“These are exacerbated by the rampant practice of outsourcing for things like due diligence in large scale litigation and in corporate restructuring. Add to that the rise of disruptive business practices which have automated many of the repetitive tasks that junior lawyers did in the past, reducing the need to hire trainees.”

Startups and other lean companies face even steeper legal learning curves, as they must draft their own user agreements and privacy clauses. These are some of the issues Patrick Gibbs, the in-house counsel at tech startup called KeepTruckin, encounters most in his work. (KeepTruckin is an electronic log and fleet management software for the trucking industry.)

“Information and data privacy, IP—those are the things you really need to be concerned about,” Gibbs says. “And commercial agreements—terms, warranties, indemnifications, a lot of those operational matters and service level agreements. How to deal with downtime, damages, what you can and can’t promise people.”

Post-LL.M. tech careers

Berkeley’s Jim Dempsey says the best options for LL.M. graduates are in their home countries.

“Technology lawyers from around the world are increasingly representing clients with trans-national interests; having that LL.M. degree and an understanding of US law will help make students a better lawyer,” he says.

David Collins’ students at City University of London typically net positions as associates at law firms; they also have gone to work in-house in companies, like financial institutions or those in the energy sector. Some of the better-known technology law firms in the US include Fenwick & West LLP, Gunderson Dettmer, Cooley LLP, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. “They do not, as a rule, get jobs as counsel for start-ups,” he says, as startups are generally short on capital until they can net stable funding and profitability.

But Gibbs says there are ways to an in-house position; many graduates start out with an associate position at a firm and end up working for startup clients who, once they’ve raised enough cash or have reached stable profitability, will need in-house counsel. For the associate, it’s often the perfect positioning to get in.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "See all LL.M. programs in Technology or Information Technology", "link": "/concentrations/technology-information-technology-it-law"}%

“You’ve been with them long enough that you know their business—you’ve been working deeply in their documents, you know their templates,” says Gibbs. “You can always go to your old law firm for outside counsel, while you handle more of the day to day operations.”

“That’s kind of the standard operating procedure for someone going straight out of law school who wants to work in-house.”

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/a-fresh-look-at-technology-llms Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions About the US Energy Law Landscape—Bret Wells at UHLC]]> With a new administration already making large scale changes to energy legislation—not to mention pulling out of the Paris climate agreement—what should future energy and environmental lawyers look out for in the coming years? We sat down with Bret Wells, George Butler Research Professor and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center, to understand recent developments in the US energy landscape and what LL.M. students should expect going into a career in the space.

The Trump administration is already rolling back Obama-era climate policies, making major policy shifts such as pulling out of the Paris agreement. How will this affect energy and environmental lawyers going forward?

The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement creates additional need for education about the intersection of environmental and energy law between national jurisdictions. Not only will students need to understand the global climate change framework, and the US’ relation to it, but energy lawyers will need to understand how this framework will impact the relations between countries, particularly those that trade energy internationally. The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement makes this interrelationship more complex. For energy lawyers in the United States, it will spur a renewed surge of federal and state lawsuits, expanded state and local legislative efforts, and a stronger need for legal services on how energy sources and industrial operators can comply with shifting and conflicting federal and state mandates.

I think there is going to be a lot of noise over the coming years, but I think that the dominant political belief in the US and around the world is that we value environmentally-sensitive production of hydrocarbons. And legislation that will limit the collateral damage of that will be the most effective. That’s where the broad public consensus is today. The concern for scholars and others is what environmental regulation is needed, and how the industry can achieve their objectives within that scope.

Are there changes at University of Houston’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Law LL.M. curriculum that reflect these dynamics?

One of the forums we’ve been expanding is the international regulator conference here. Government representatives throughout the Americas come here and have a dialogue—and these are the kinds of conversations we’re going to have regardless of what the Trump administration does.

We’ve also added new courses like transnational law, as cross-border investments in every sector increase. Another new one is an environmental law practicum course that brings in guest lecturers for whole semesters. Last year we brought in leaders from the EPA and other state regulators. We had dialogues on current topics in environmental law, regulation, and contamination issues. That practicum had in depth discussions about the Macondo [Deepwater Horizon] well explosion, as well as current year carbon dioxide emissions. Another new course is diplomacy and geopolitics of oil and gas, which covers the history and balance of powers of oil and gas during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

We really have been trying hard to address the legitimate interests of the energy industry, regulators, and the environmental constituents, to have a curriculum that balances all of those competing policy interests.

How much emphasis do you put on the environmental curriculum vs. the energy side?

We put environment first in our title; I think the old world of tradeoffs is not the way we need to be educating future leaders. The world wants clean, safe energy, but we have to mitigate the environmental disadvantage. What we say to our industry folks is that you’re not going to have a sustainable business if it’s not environmentally conscious. Those [LL.M.] programs saying “drill, baby, drill” aren’t going to be the voices of the industry or responsible stakeholders in the sector. Most business leaders wants programs that are going to be forward-thinking about how businesses need to be geared for future, not advocates for one political side or other. What we’re trying to get our students to think about, and what policy makers are pushing the envelope on, is ‘how do we meet energy demands of growing world, yet in a way that also meets the goals of environmental security and justice?’

How have you seen the Energy Law LL.M. landscape evolving over the past decade?

There’s been a large growth in the environmental space; I think there are some programs that are just oil specific, and cropping up to offer environmental specializations. We’re not the only ones, but we’re one of the few marrying an Energy LL.M. with environmental law, which is actually quite difficult for a program to do. Aberdeen and Calgary have nice advantages in that regard. I think there is an understanding in environmental law programs that they need a better understanding of energy courses in order to be thoughtful, and to balance out in the [environmental] law area. They need to understand the industry they’re attempting to regulate.

There was definitely a boom in applicants when oil prices were high; during the ten years around 2000 to 2013 we saw an increase in students moving to study international oil and gas. There’s no doubt that when oil prices were at $100, the number of students coming from international places was higher. The peak would’ve been for us in 2015.

What advice would you give prospective LL.M. students before choosing a program and launching a career in energy law?

You’re going to grow and learn and understand things in a very different way than when you come in. But it would be helpful to have a clear idea of, ‘what am I wanting from my career, what am I passionate about?’ You’re going to make enough money to make it through life. What would you like to do? Not just what you’re good at. Map out your thinking in terms of picking courses and the contacts that are going to get you down that path. Don’t just go into a program and be passive. Think about what you can do as you’re dealing with these professors, industry participants, government officials, and people who are interested in developing the next generation of leaders in this space. But hold that loosely; you may get passionate about a course you never expected, or had exposure to, but it’s important to not just live the experience, and not have a clear sense of what your job will look like when you get out, and knowing how the LL.M. could help you get there.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/5-questions-about-the-us-energy-law-landscape-bret-wells-at-uhlc Fri, 09 Jun 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[How an LL.M. in Media and Entertainment Law Can Improve Your Chances of Breaking Into the Industry]]> Lights! Camera! Contract!

Anybody who’s ever worked in or around the media or entertainment fields knows the importance of contracts and other legal facts of life.

The proliferation of licensing agreements, talent contracts, option negotiations, copyright issues, the emergence of digital, and the like means that there is no shortage of work for the up-and-coming entertainment lawyer.

And indeed, LL.M. programs all over the world are catering to the growing demand for lawyers skilled in the entertainment and media law fields.

Home to Hollywood, Los Angeles is arguably the entertainment epicenter of the world. And as such, a number of law schools in the area, such as UCLA School of Law, Pepperdine School of Law, and USC Law School, all offer LL.M. concentrations in these fields.

Loyola Law School

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles offers an LL.M. in Entertainment and Media Law; on a good day the school is about 20 minutes away from Hollywood by car.

The school’s LL.M. director Aaron Ghirardelli says that for foreign lawyers wanting to break into the media and entertainment business, an LL.M. from a US school is essential “because the majority of the movies and TV shows are made, of course, in the US”.

“So whenever you do a contract for the licensing of intellectual property, or whenever there are issues concerning rights on entertainment products, most likely the partners will be US partners so you have to be fluent in American law.”

Ghirardelli says that foreign students on his program are coming increasingly from Asia.

“They’re already working in big entertainment companies in Asia, mostly in China. And they’re coming here with the idea of specializing in entertainment law and gaining exposure to American law.”

The school offers very niche courses in entertainment law, including motion picture financing, television programming and financing, reality television, and these are taught by leading practitioners in the field.

But it also provides externship and mentoring opportunities designed to help students get their foot in the door of the industry and seek out potential job opportunities.

“The Entertainment Law Practicum gives students the opportunity to get externships in top entertainment law positions,” says Ghirardelli.

Ghirardelli says externships are particularly important for foreign LL.M. students.

“Then when you go back to your country, not only can you say, ‘I know American law and the US legal system’, you can say, ‘I also have experience working in a law firm in the US’. That’s truly important if you aspire to work in a big international firm.”

Graduates have found positions at Sony Pictures, MGM and National Geographic.

He says students benefit from alumni staying connected and offering their support – through workshops and mentorships – to current students because so many of them stay in the city after graduation.

“So these are not former students who graduate and then nobody ever sees them again. These are top lawyers in entertainment law that keep coming back.”

Media and Entertainment LL.M.s: A worldwide phenomena

It’s not just Los Angeles; Media and Entertainment LL.M.s can be found at law schools all over the world.

Piccadilly Circus, London

The School of Law at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is home to the LL.M. in Media Law, where professional development opportunities are plentiful.

Indeed, the entertainment industry is on the rise in London and the country more broadly: in 2014, for example, the film industry in the UK generated some 1.4 billion GBP, according to data from the British Film Institute.

Like Loyola, QMUL leverages the school’s location in London to give LL.M. students practical experience in the entertainment and media fields.

“Our objective is to try to give our students as many opportunities to do extra curricular employability activities as possible,” says Dr Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law at QMUL.

QMUL’s law school houses qLegal, a legal advice center where students can get hands-on experience by offering free legal advice to startups and entrepreneurs.

The school’s location provides easy connections to Europe and beyond, as well as strong ties to the UK’s media and entertainment industry. The program helps students to find work experience placements in London, particularly at up-and-coming media firms in need of fresh talent.

“If you want to get into the digital media environment, we target the Shoreditch and startup community,” says Walden. “It’s a very good way of showing a potential employer that you have an interest that goes above and beyond just doing the degree.”

The law school’s solid reputation within the local media industry is reflected in the fact that the media law program regularly includes industry professionals who aren’t there to obtain an LL.M., but simply for professional development.

This gives students the opportunity to mingle with those who are already in the business.

“We have a significant number of foreign students and they’re using the LL.M. as an opportunity to re-skill and change direction,” says Walden.

Studying entertainment law in the historical center of the German film industry

Germany might not be the first place you’d think of when searching for a place to study media law.

But a new program run right next to the film studio where Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and more recently Cloud Atlas and Grand Budapest Hotel were filmed could make it a new destination for students who want to study entertainment law.

University of Potsdam

Earlier this year, the University of Potsdam announced that it was partnering with Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and the Erich Pommer Institute for Media Law and Research (EPI) to launch a new master’s level program in digital media law.

The program will be taught within the entertainment hub that is also home to Studio Babelsberg and the Berlin-Brandenburg regional news broadcasting center.

The project manager for EPI’s master programs Martin Petrick says “the background is that our partners in the media sector have a need for people who are not generalists but specialists in the topics of media law, but with basics in media management”.

“Media companies need experts in both subjects to evaluate whether a business development is going to survive in the market.”

Those applying to the program decide in advance whether they are going to study towards the LL.M. or MBA. The first semester sees all students studying common subjects, but from the second semester they split off, with the LL.M. students focusing on topics including licensing and contract controls while the MBA candidates turn their attention to strategic management, for example.

“There is the possibility to study both,” says Petrick, “but formally these will be two programs.”

Petrick says those who graduate from the program will be ready to work in management positions and legal departments where they will be equipped with a strong overview over how both parts are functioning.

“They don’t necessarily need to answer all the questions themselves. They don’t need to be a law expert or a management expert but they have to be able to ask the right questions to the right people to solve the problems.”

For now, the dual master program will be taught in German with international visiting experts teaching in English. However, there is a view to being able to open the program up to English speakers and the international market in the future.


Images:

  • Hollywood by Stephen Downes CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) by Ken Bergman CC BY 2.0
  • Piccadilly Circus, London by Simon & His Camera CC BY 2.0
  • Universität Potsdam am Neuen Palais by Wolfro54 CC BY 2.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/how-an-llm-in-media-and-entertainment-law-can-improve-your-chances-of-breaking-into-the-industry Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Energy Law LL.M.s: A Closer Look]]> With an ever-rising global population and limited resources, energy has always been a challenging and dynamic sector. The International Energy Outlook for 2016 projects significant growth in worldwide energy demand, with total world consumption expected to increase almost 50 percent between 2012 and 2040.

This trajectory also includes fast-paced developments in the exploitation of energy sources, from traditional exploration and production of fossil fuels to more recent mining extraction methods like hydraulic fracturing (or 'fracking'), as well as renewables like wind, hydro, and solar power.

The growth has in turn spurred the proliferation of Energy Law LL.M. programs, many of which have veered away from focusing solely on oil and gas laws.. The University of Aberdeen, for instance, launched its Energy Law LL.M. roughly five years ago partly in response to demand, but also to diversify its offerings in line with the transformation of the energy sector.

“This is because North Sea oil is declining and other forms of energy are now rising in importance,” says Tina Hunter, director of Aberdeen’s Centre for Energy Law. “And this has been particularly true after the EU Renewable Energy Directive in 2009 and Energy Efficiency Directive in 2013.”

Likewise, Oregon’s Lewis & Clark Law School has been expanding its offerings to prepare new lawyers; in 2012, it created the Green Energy Institute, an organization focused on developing policies for the energy transition that also offers fellowship positions to LL.M. students.

Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, and Energy Law LL.M. has also increased the scope of its courses to including topics like Renewable Energy Law and Policy, Renewable Energy Project Development and Finance, and Solar and Wind Law.

In the UK, the biggest challenge facing energy lawyers is the move away from oil and gas, and how this will be tackled alongside the requirements under Maximising the Economic Recovery (MER) UK, a government strategy that aims to maximize the economic recovery of UK petroleum. “This has provided major challenges for both industry and practice,” Turner says.

Picking the right Energy LL.M. program

There have been a handful of well-established Energy Law LL.M. programs, historically focused on the oil and gas sector; in the US, Texas has always been a hub for the industry, making the University of Texas School of Law and University of Houston Law Center popular choices for LL.M. students looking to focus on the US market.

Outside the US, the University of Dundee has also been a long-time player in the space. Other law schools offering similar LL.M. programs include Queen Mary University of London, the University of Groningen and the University of Calgary.

Programs tend to have a focus on their particular region, says Aberdeen’s Tina Hunter; LL.M.s in the US are very much centered on US law and operations, while the UK tends to be more globally- or EU-focused. Scandinavian programs can also be unique; the University of Oslo has an oil and gas LL.M., but it focuses almost solely on the Norwegian market, which has its own particular system.

Law schools have typically always been on the lag in adapting to changes in the market and legislative environment, but there are pressing issues that have made their way into course offerings. Some of the most important environmental law issues facing lawyers these days include pollution, water quality, public lands, international climate change, biodiversity, and food, says Lucy Brehm, assistant director of Lewis and Clark’s Energy LL.M.

Climate change and how to respond to it has also been a huge topic, adds Owen Anderson, professor and oil and gas scholar at the University of Texas.

“Another is human rights in areas that are populated by indigenous communities who have in the past been cut out of the benefits of energy development but have suffered most of the adverse impacts of it,” he says.

“That’s a very big deal.”

[See the Top 10 LL.M. Programs for Energy Law]

But with the proliferation of new programs—some of which include courses that cover such topics ignored by traditional Oil and Gas LL.M. programs—professors also advise prospective students to do their research on the school’s curriculum and faculty.

“Energy became a sexy thing again this past decade, and a lot of schools purport to have strong energy LL.M.s,” Anderson says. “But if you look at their curriculum and faculty, you’ll find in most of those cases the professors are either adjuncts or visiting lecturers.” Hunter agrees, noting that there are a limited number of academics in the area, so some schools are struggling to attract well-established scholars.

Post-LL.M. job prospects in the competitive energy landscape

Lewis & Clark LL.M. graduates have landed jobs in a diverse spectrum of fields, including private practice, nonprofits, utilities, academia, government agencies and the military, says Lucy Brehm.

”Environmental law has been a steady source of employment because of its vast presence on local, state and federal levels,” she adds. “Policy changes at the federal level will certainly have an impact, and federal funding for the EPA and state environmental agency programs may dry up; but we expect that renewable energy, water law (which is mostly state law), and citizen suits will continue to be important areas for lawyers.”

In Texas, one recent change in the landscape is that those who have graduated with an LL.M. degree from a US school are now able to sit for the state bar exam—a qualification that will undoubtedly push up enrollment for schools in and around the state. Oklahoma University also has an oil and gas LL.M. whose graduates often end up in Texas for post-graduate employment.

“Those students aren’t coming here necessarily because of energy; they’re coming for the Texas bar,” UT’s Owen Anderson says. “But if you’re going to take Texas bar, energy is definitely going to be a section, so they’re undoubtedly going to encounter oil, gas, wind and other energy issues throughout their practice.” 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/energy-law-llms-a-closer-look Mon, 08 May 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M. Programs in New Zealand: An Internationally Recognized Education in a Native English Environment]]> For many LL.M. applicants looking to study in an English-language environment, the UK or the US might seem like the obvious choice. But a growing number of students are seeking options further afield.

Indeed, beyond the language, there are plenty of reasons New Zealand makes for both an exciting and comfortable place to complete your LL.M. studies.

The Associate Dean of International and Postgraduate Students at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law, Chris Noonan says, “a lot of students want to study in New Zealand because of what they perceive New Zealand to be: a clean green country with good outdoor experiences, mild weather, pleasant people and so forth”.

With rugged Lord of the Rings scenery, and both mountains and beaches within easy reach of all the main cities, New Zealand has plenty to offer those looking to supplement their study abroad with unique outdoor experiences.

But the nation of 4.5 million people also boasts a relaxed lifestyle, high standards of living and friendly locals. On top of that, the universities offer internationally recognized education and the opportunity to study law in a native English setting. It’s a winning combination that makes the long flight times to this part of the world worth the distance for many international law students.

Noonan says international students also choose New Zealand “because they see they can get a good quality education and it provides them with a stepping stone to do other things with their career, whether that’s back home, or in multinational corporations around the world, or even working in New Zealand”.

Gain work experience while you study

Victoria University's Faculty of Law

Victoria University is found in the country’s capital, Wellington, which Lonely Planet has deemed the “coolest little capital in the world”. This is a title Wellingtonians are proud of; for a tiny capital city, there is a vibrant arts, culture and café scene well-suited to students.

Victoria University’s Faculty of Law offers a general LL.M. with coursework, covering subjects including intellectual property law, business, human rights and the environment, and law reform and policy, a key subject area in the nations’ capital.

LL.M. students can incorporate a dissertation or a thesis into their program of study, and there is also the option of earning an LL.M. by research.

Joanna Mossop, Postgraduate Programme Director for Victoria University’s Faculty of Law, says that the school does attract a lot of LL.M. applicants from outside the country.

We have a strong tradition of international students in our LL.M. program,” she says. “One of the things that attracts people is our internship option, which is not so common in LL.M. programs.”

“This is an opportunity for international students to be placed in a workplace in Wellington that is connected to their interests. So, say they are interested in employment law, we would try to place them in an employment law firm. If they’re interested in government work, we place them in a government department.”

The internship program counts for course credit and is supervised by a law faculty member as well as someone at the work placement, where students work on one or more research projects.

The opportunity to complement postgraduate study with relevant work experience is a strong pull factor. Mossop says, “our international students say this is the main reason why they choose Victoria”.

Experience cultural diversity

As for where international students tend to come from, Mossop says it’s a diverse mix at Victoria University, with students arriving from Germany, France, India, China and South East Asia – all taking up the opportunity to study law in English – as well as neighbouring countries in the Pacific Islands.

But beyond diversity at school, those studying for their LL.M.s in New Zealand will find that the country’s cities are all home to a wide range of cultures, and cultural diversity is celebrated. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is the biggest Polynesian city in the world, and it is also home to a large Asian population. Inhabitants with an Asian background will soon make up one-quarter of Auckland’s population.

Auckland city

Additional work opportunities in New Zealand

For those who wish to stay in New Zealand post-LL.M. and look for work, the immigration system is relatively welcoming. Graduates who have earned a New Zealand qualification are able to apply for a study-to-work visa, which gives them 12 months to look for a job, at which point they can move on to a standard work visa.

One thing to note, Noonan says, is that earning an LL.M. in New Zealand won’t qualify an international student to practice law there. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

“The LL.M. itself doesn’t entitle foreign students to practice law in New Zealand,” he says. “But New Zealand’s Council of Legal Education can prescribe an additional course of study for international students, depending on where they come from and what their background is, that allows them to qualify to practice law in New Zealand.”

For others, it’s the shorter-term opportunity to live in a new country and make the most of it that appeals.

The LL.M. at Otago University in Dunedin in the South Island makes this very easy with a flexible, research-only program that allows students to live away from campus if they wish.

Lauren Hall, Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago’s Faculty of Law says that while the university offers more specialized programs – like the Master of Bioethics and Health Law – most international law students come for the general LL.M., aiming to hone in on a research area of their interest.

One of our current LL.M. students is from Germany, and I asked him, ‘why did you come to Otago?’ He said he wanted deeper knowledge in the field he’s looking to work in, which is environmental law with an international perspective. That aligned with our research environment and the supervisors who specialise in that field.”

She says the flexibility of the research-only program is a big drawcard.

“So for international students, they don’t necessarily have to be on campus the entire time and they can start the program at any time.”

New Zealand might not be the first place you think of when considering law study abroad, but law schools are eager to have their programs considered along with the more obvious options.

As Joanna Mossop at the University of Victoria says, “doing an LL.M. in New Zealand, the universities here are world-class and the academics are operating at an international level. Often New Zealand is seen as a small backwater, but actually the quality of education here is the same as what you find in Australia, or the US or UK.”


Image credits:

  • Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand by Bernard Spragg CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Victoria University's Law School by Ronald Woan CC BY 2.0 
  • Auckland City by Malcolm Peacey CC BY 2.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-programs-in-new-zealand-an-internationally-recognized-education-in-a-native-english-environment Mon, 06 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[LL.M.s in the Netherlands: Getting International Perspective in the Home of the ICC and the Peace Palace]]> The International Criminal Court (ICC)

For English speakers who want to study for an LL.M. in a foreign country, language is often a concern.

But in the Netherlands, there’s no need to fret. The level of English spoken at university in the Netherlands is “comparable to studying in the UK or US”, says Dennis Baas, Communication Advisor for marketing and recruitment at Tilburg Law School.

Beyond the language issue, many LL.M.s come to study in the Netherlands to be close to some of the world’s most important international organizations, such as the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court (ICC), both located in The Hague.

“In the context of international law, [the Netherlands] is where decisions are made and where the courts and trials take place,” says Dr Chris Brennan, Marketing Advisor at University of Groningen’s Faculty of Law.

“Students who are interested in studying any field of international law, whether that’s public international law or international human rights law, this is a very good country to come to for studying these areas.”

Brennan says the Netherlands’ compact size means these institutions are easily accessible from anywhere in the country. Groningen, for example, is only two-and-a-half hours by train from the Hague, despite being in the far north of the country.

Brussels is only a short trip from Amsterdam, the Hague and Tilburg, as is Cologne, to the west in Germany.

What do the Netherlands’ law schools have to offer?

Although international law is a big draw, students studying in the Netherlands have no shortage of options when it comes to LL.M. specializations.

Groningen’s seven LL.M. programs, for example, offer specializations in international human rights law, public international law, global criminal law and European economic law.

Its LL.M. in Energy and Climate Law is a highly specialized program with local significance. The Groningen gas field – Europe’s largest natural gas field – is nearby, and many of the Dutch energy companies have offices in the city.

Brennan says that “for students who come to participate in the program, many of their lecturers are well networked within the energy sector and a lot of the teachers also work for energy companies, so they’re learning from people who are very much at the top of their field.”

Meanwhile, Tilburg Law School works its youth to its advantage – the University was founded in 1927, whereas Leiden, Groningen and Amsterdam universities were founded in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Dennis Baas at Tilburg Law School says the university’s status as a much younger institution means that “we’re not so conservative when it comes to what a law program should look like. In that way, all our programs have an interdisciplinary and international focus”.

Their interdisciplinary offerings include an LL.M. in Law and Technology, an LL.M. in International Business Tax Law and an LL.M. in International Law and Human Rights.

Baas points out that students don’t come for a Dutch perspective, but rather for an international perspective they can take back and use in their home countries.

“All our LL.M. programs have a European or international focus.”

[see a listing of all LL.M. programs in the Netherlands]

Leiden University is found in the Hague. Its law school offers LL.M.s, as well as Advanced Master’s programs for those who have already obtained a Master’s degree.

Leiden’s regular Master’s programs can be taken with a focus on European Law or Public International Law, or as an MSc in Criminal Justice.

The Advanced Masters’ programs dig deeper, with students selecting a specialization like Air and Space law, European or International Tax Law, European and International Business Law or International Children’s Rights.

Amsterdam

Beyond the huge range of LL.M. offerings, the Netherlands, has much more to offer: Amsterdam, for instance, is regularly featured in top lists of the world’s most livable cities and the informal, internationally-minded Dutch people make friendly neighbors and classmates.

The Netherlands’ flat landscape is known for its natural beauty, ubiquitous bicycle paths and tulip fields. But it also offers world-class art museums and a western coast of beaches. From golden sands to wild dunes, Dutch beaches are easily reachable from the cities and are packed with visitors in the surprisingly balmy summertime.

Working in the Netherlands during (and after) an LL.M.

Thanks to a recent law change, it is now easier for international students in the Netherlands to gain work experience while they study.

Sheena Bruce, Deputy Head at the Office of International Education at Leiden Law School says that previously international students needed a work permit in order to do a paid internship, but those rules have been softened.

“It’s no longer compulsory for [the internship] to be a part of the program,” explains Bruce. “Now they consider whether it’s beneficial for the student to do an internship.”

This applies to work experience that’s related to a program of study. Non-EU students still aren’t able to work other jobs without a work permit.

As for finding work in the Netherlands post-study, it’s not easy, but there are a number of possibilities.

“International students are extremely interested in staying beyond their study time,” says Bruce. “There is a high uptake of students staying afterwards and looking for work.”

Students with EU passports can of course stay without a visa, but for non-EU students who have been studying in the Netherlands, they are able to apply for a one-year job-seeking visa.

This allows plenty of time to look for work in the Netherlands, as well as in the rest of the EU – a great opportunity if you’re eyeing up a position in Brussels or somewhere else in Europe.

Bruce says, “if you’re here anyway, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?”

Dennis Baas at Tilburg points out that if an international student decides to seek work in the Netherlands, they need to remember that they won’t be eligible for traditional lawyer jobs.

It’s not as simple as just taking a bar exam – they would need to start over and do a bachelor’s program in Dutch law first.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting opportunities for non-Dutch graduates.

“If international students decide to stay here and they find a job, they’re more or less working in international organizations, or in law offices that are dealing with companies, for example, in the country they are originally from,” says Baas.

There is one opportunity in particular that Baas has seen bear fruit.

He says that many students who have taken the LL.M. in Law and Technology at Tilburg University have ended up with jobs in Brussels as the EU has been overhauling its data protection law, set to come into force in 2018.

This has created jobs both in legal institutions and in companies that base themselves in Brussels in order to stay connected to the EU.

“There are a lot of international companies in the Netherlands, so that option is always open.”


Image credits:

  • Header: Tulip field near Keukenhof, Netherlands. 20 rows of flowering orange-red tulips by Antony Antony / CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • ICC: Vincent van Zeijst / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Amsterdam: Jorge Royan / CC BY-SA 3.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llms-in-the-netherlands-getting-international-perspective-in-the-home-of-the-icc-and-the-peace-palace Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Preventing Future Breaches: LL.M.s in Cybersecurity]]> In October 2015, hackers infiltrated the accounts of 15 million T-Mobile customers, stealing social security numbers, names and birth dates. Last September, Yahoo revealed that 500 million user accounts were compromised in a massive data breach. At roughly the same time, Sony Corp. agreed to pay as much as $8 million to settle employee claims over theft of personal information in a computer hack.

With such alarming, wide-scale breaches, corporations and government institutions alike are turning increased attention to internet security issues. The demand for lawyers who are well-versed in cybersecurity law is intense right now,” says Orin Kerr, director of  George Washington University’s newly-founded cybersecurity initiative.

“Companies are all facing cybersecurity problems, and there are very few lawyers who know this area of law.”

Cybersecurity: Not just for IT guys anymore

Law schools have been slow on the uptake, however; only a few offer focused LL.M.s specializing in the field, and most of these have only just launched. The University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law offers a one-year LL.M. that covers topics including internet governance and jurisdiction, cybercrime, data breach, as well as current and proposed legislation, policies, and regulations.

“We recognized a few years ago that cybersecurity wasn’t just an issue for the IT guys anymore,” says Program Manager Markus Rauschecker. While the university began incorporating cybersecurity courses five years ago, the actual specialization was launched just this year. The LL.M. has 25 students, with a handful specializing in cybersecurity.

“In general we see that technologists and the lawyers and policy makers don’t speak the same language,” Rauschecker says. “There’s a real need to develop translators, if you will, who can bridge the gap—to understand where each side is coming from, and reconcile all of that.”

Loyola Law School in Los Angeles also  just created a one-year LL.M. in Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Law last spring, which covers compliance, computer network security systems, incident response and investigation, systems engineers approach to internet security, and white-collar crime. Aaron Ghirardelli, the program director, says that the LL.M. focuses on training students to understand two fundamental issues: what to do before an attack, and what to do afterward. For lawyers, there are many steps to take before a breach even happens: establishing coordination, knowing which authorities to report to, and how to prepare a company’s systems. In the event of one, counsel will have to quickly determine how to protect customer or client information, and how and when to give notice to customers and authorities.

Given the global nature of internet security, schools are also devoting a cornerstone of their curriculum to understanding differences in various jurisdictions.

“We live in a globalized market; as soon as data is online, suddenly you’re subject to rules everywhere in the world,” Ghirardelli notes. “If you’re a company in the U.S. and you have the data of an EU citizen, suddenly you’re subject to European regulations. So you really have to know the comprehensive rules in play.”

While George Washington University doesn’t yet have a specific cybersecurity LL.M., its Cybersecurity Initiative will host regular events on law and technology open to students as well as the public, in hopes that it will “provide a focal point for more events and more interdisciplinary work in the field,” Kerr says. Currently GW offers two LL.M.s: a general one that allows a student to specialize in any field; and a National Security LL.M., which can include cybersecurity coursework. Kerr says GW is considering a formal degree in cybersecurity law in the future if it finds sufficient interest from students.

A few other law schools offer cybersecurity curriculum as a part of broader LL.M. programs; Seattle University School of Law, for instance, offers an LL.M. in Innovation and Technology Law that places particular emphasis on privacy, cybersecurity, digital commerce, and financial technology. Stanford University also offers an LL.M. in Law, Science & Technology, while Berkeley Law School offers an LL.M. Law & Technology Certificate, a specialized program for LL.M. students that recognizes a course of study focused on technology law.

The job market for LL.M.s with cybersecurity skills

Organizations are expected to increase spending on IT security by almost 9% by 2018, according to BBC Research. The global cyber security market is slated to increase from $85.3 billion in 2016 to $187.1 billion in 2021, implying a worldwide boom for jobs in the space.

Demand for legal expertise is indeed on the rise; Kerr says that in the last few years, almost every major law firm in Washington, D.C. has established a cybersecurity law practice. But the demand is there in almost every sector, and graduates of LL.M. program could find themselves employed across a wide range of industries: as consultants, chief security officers for businesses, as well as government jobs. The Obama administration had sought a $5 billion increase in spending on cybersecurity for the 2017 fiscal year, budgeting $19 billion, and President Donald Trump’s chosen cybersecurity adviser, Rudy Giuliani, looks to be bullish on spending.

But ultimately, the jury will still be out on how much a cybersecurity LL.M. would bolster the chances for a better job.

“We don't yet know how much market advantage it would offer graduates a degree with a formal label of an LLM in cybersecurity law,” says Kerr. “It's the knowledge you gain that counts, of course; the courses you take and the professors you have. Education is about what you learn, not what the piece of paper says.”


Photo Image: System Lock by Yuri Samoilov / CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/preventing-future-breaches-llms-in-cybersecurity Mon, 06 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[In-Depth: The American Bar Exam]]> Becoming a lawyer in the United States is a notoriously arduous process, due in no small part to the behemoth bar exam. The complexity is exacerbated by the fact that not everything is standardized; states have their own requirements and standards for eligibility and passage. While this makes the bar particularly difficult to navigate for foreign nationals looking to practice in the United States after completing an LL.M., some careful preparation and attention to details can lead to a successful test day.

What is the bar exam?

Any lawyer who wants to work in the United States must pass the bar in the jurisdiction in which they plan to practice. The exam tests knowledge of general legal principles, as well as that state's own law—typically subjects like wills, trusts and community property, which always vary from state to state. While some states write their own bars, many have reverted to a standardized exam—the Uniform Bar Examination, or “UBE”—developed and administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Adoption of the UBE began in 2011, with Missouri being the first state to administer the test. Today, some 25 states—plus the District of Columbia—have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam. “Some states are very insular,” says Chuck Turner, who served as executive director of the Colorado State Bar Association for over thirty years. “They want to determine on their own who gets in; one could also argue that they’re limiting the amount of lawyers coming into their state.”

UBE scores can be transferred to seek admission in other UBE jurisdictions, but applicants should be aware of each state’s requirements; for example, each applicant may have to redo the process that determines his or her “character and fitness,” a procedure required of everyone seeking to practice in the United States. Many of the largest legal markets—California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, for example—have so far chosen not to adopt the UBE. New York and the District of Columbia only began administering the UBE in the summer of 2016, while South Carolina and New Jersey will begin using the test in February 2017.

The UBE, which lasts two days, is generally composed of two parts: the first is devoted to a standardized Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice test that covers constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. The test is administered nation-wide on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July of each year, and is divided into two 3-hour sessions. To date, Louisiana is the only state not using the MBE.

The second day of the test covers that particular state’s law, often comprised of essay questions. “Everyone knows that the California bar has community property as a potential test question,” says Jordyn Ostroff, who passed the California bar in July after graduating from Berkeley Law School this year.

Shay Soltani, a lawyer at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer in New York City, took the New York bar in 2012 and said that the differences between the state-specific portion involve the depth of the different areas of law in that jurisdiction. “When you get into states, it just comes down to what areas of state law they deem are important,” says Soltani, who did her J.D. at Fordham.

A handful of states—California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana—have three days of testing instead of two, although California, with one of the most difficult exams in the country, is reverting back to a two-day bar in 2017.

Who can take the bar exam?

Eligibility for the bar, as well as the passing score, varies depending on the state. Thirty states allow foreign-trained lawyers to sit their bar exams, according to the NCBE, but there are also other eligibility factors like standards of the law school candidates attended—whether they are up to par of the American Bar Association—or whether they were educated in the common law or civil law system. In some states such as California, having an LL.M. can come in handy in terms of eligibility for the bar exam.

But the test has proven to be markedly more difficult for foreign law students; according to NCBE statistics, only 28% of law students who studied outside the United States passed the bar in 2015, compared to 64% for ABA-approved law schools.

California and New York are notorious for having some of the lowest bar pass rates in the country; in 2015, they were 44% and 56%, respectively. You can take the bar multiple times, but the test costs roughly $800, so it can be a heavy financial burden for many students—some of whom take out loans just for exam preparation and costs, according to Ostroff.

Turner pointed to recent developments in bar reciprocity, in which some states allow those who have passed the bar in another state to be admitted to their own bar. The vast majority of those admitted to Washington D.C.’s bar, for instance, are those admitted in this way. The requirements for reciprocity vary by state, however; some depend on factors such as the number of graduating law students within the state, geographic desirability, or average earnings compared to other states. Some may also require candidates to take the state’s bar exam, while others will accept a combination of passing results on the MBE and a minimum number of years’ of practice in another state.

“Thirty years ago, there was hardly any reciprocity,” Turner says. “Today, you may have to take the local practice and procedure exam, but that’s much much less daunting than the full bar.”

How to prepare for the bar exam

One lamented consensus among law students is that law school does not prepare you for the bar. There are a handful of classes like contract and criminal law every student takes that is covered by the bar, but, as Ostroff notes, it’s not taught in a way that’s useful for the exam. “My contracts or civil procedure professors—they don’t teach the exam; they teach the curriculum they develop,” she says.

“The hardest thing in general about the bar—and what makes it really different from law school—is to be tested on something has to be right or wrong, black or white,” Ostroff says. “But nothing you learn in law school is black or white. It’s all a grey area.”

To help test-takers, a number of companies, such as Barbri and Kaplan, offer bar preparation courses. Indeed, Soltani says, so many people take the Barbri course that it has become a sort of barometer for what’s going to be on the test.

LL.M. students, however, often go into the bar with different needs than their J.D. counterparts; some need review of the fundamentals of American law, while others need help with the rigors of standardized testing and written English. Because of this, prep services offer customized courses for LL.M. students coming from outside of the US. And additionally, in some cases, LL.M. programs will actually include some specific bar prep classes.

There’s no way around it; passing the bar is a lot of work. According to Turner, “You just have to study for it, and that’s a full-time job.”

“Since so much is riding on it, it’s not like any other test.”


Image: Swampyank / CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/in-depth-the-american-bar-exam Sat, 07 Jan 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Brexit Could Shake Up LL.M. Programs]]> In summer 2016, students defected from the LL.M. in EU Commercial Law at Essex University en masse.

"[The program] was basically eliminated," says Marios Koutsias, lecturer in EU Commercial Law and commercial post-graduate training director at the University of Essex. "Students left it and moved to the commercial, business and trade law LL.M., for example."

This blow to Essex University's EU Commercial Law concentration is just one of the myriad ways that the June 2016 vote for the UK to leave the EU is reverberating through British and European life. It's impossible to tell how Brexit will pan out, but when it comes to LL.M. programs on both sides of the Channel, officials see the vote shaking things up at universities and law programs.

One major effect, they say, stems from the potential for restricted movement between the UK and the EU, which could stop professors from immigrating from Europe to the UK and vice versa and could have a chilling effect on cross-university collaboration.

"It does have very profound implications for our work. Many of our colleagues are from Britain. They feel insecure about what the future holds," says Han Somsen, vice dean of Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands.

"The UK has been disproportionately effective in attracting research funds. In the Netherlands, we find it very easy to work together with UK colleagues. In terms of language, it's easy to work with them. It's very unsure whether the UK universities will continue to compete and be present in this European research area, and that will mean that we need to find new partners. That's difficult. That's going to be a difficult transition for us."

Koutsias says that the end of collaboration could hurt UK schools in another way: financially.

"We get a lot of funding for research. All this will be cut, obviously, but it all depends on what kind of agreement they have," says Koutsias. "Everything everyone says at the moment is really invalid, because no one knows what the agreement will look like."

Officials in the UK and the EU also point out that a Brexit could stop students from moving around between the regions. Fee structures in the EU typically give discounted rates to EU students from other countries within the union. For example, Leiden University in the Netherlands charges just under 2,000 euros for the 2016 to 2017 school year for EU students, but the same degree costs more than 16,000 euros for students from outside the union. In the UK, at King's College London, an LL.M. costs 15,000 pounds for EU students, while it costs 22,800 pounds for overseas students. If Brexit separates the EU and the UK, students who don't want to pay a higher price could stop crossing the Channel for their educations.

Somsen points out that this could actually be good news for European schools.

"It's a public secret that British universities are the best in Europe. Our students like to go to the UK, and under the current regulation it's very easy for them to do so. That might change," says Somsen.

If LL.M. programs in the UK suddenly become more expensive for students from other European countries, Somsen says, they’ll start looking closer to home for better values.

Besides losing students and professors thanks to increased fees and movement restrictions, UK schools are also concerned about something less tangible affecting their enrollment: their image. The "leave" vote for Brexit is often presented in the media as a sign that the UK is not welcoming to foreigners, which could disincentivize non-British students from seeking a degree from the UK.

"The image of the UK in Europe is not the best in the moment," says Koutsias. "The issue of xenophobia and everything may affect a lot of people."

Curriculum changes for European Law LL.M.s

Many LL.M. programs in the EU and UK offer concentrations in topics related to European law. King's College London and Queen Mary University of London offer European Law LL.M.s, while Nottingham Trent University offers a European and Insolvency Law LL.M. Meanwhile, schools like Leiden and Tilburg offer LL.M.s that examine European law and integration.

But the split precipitated by the Brexit could cause these schools to rethink their curricula. In Essex's case, so many students defected from its EU commercial law program because the Brexit vote opened up the possibility that a degree from the program may soon be useless.

"Professionally speaking, our students didn't know if in one year this would be a useful degree or not, because nobody knows what kind of thing will be applicable in the UK," says Koutsias. "For EU students, it looks silly to have an EU degree from a non-EU country. It doesn't make much sense to study anything European in the UK because nobody knows its status in the future."

Koutsias says that Essex is retooling its curriculum to expand its international courses, banking on the fact that the UK will hopefully stay attractive for students from outside Europe.

"The UK will still be attractive because the only other language [many students from outside Europe] speak is English," says Koutsias. He says he thinks that Chinese students, for example, will still choose the UK to study subjects such as maritime law and international trade law.

Somsen says that at first, he thought that his school wouldn't alter its curriculum to reflect the changes wrought by Brexit. He says that pre-Brexit, skepticism about European integration had resulted in lower numbers of students pursuing EU law-related courses anyway. In addition, he says that his course never devoted much time to countries such as Switzerland, Norway, or Iceland, other nations that are geographically part of Europe but declined to sign onto the EU treaty--so at first, he thought that Brexit wouldn't play a large role in changing his curriculum.

But he says his conversation with LLM GUIDE made him re-think his opinion on curriculum changes.

"It is not inconceivable that we'll have to start teaching a different sort of EU law. The softer the Brexit, the more we will have to pay attention to the Brexit situation. The harder the Brexit, the more it's like a divorce and we won't talk about them," Somsen says.

Of course, all officials stress that the ultimate outcome from Brexit is still incredibly uncertain, since no one knows how the EU's and UK's final negotiations will turn out.

"Everything everyone says at the moment is really invalid, because no one knows what the agreement will look like," says Koutsias. "There's a huge sense of uncertainty. Nobody knows what's going to happen in the long, short or medium term. Basically life goes on."

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/brexit-could-shake-up-llm-programs Tue, 29 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[LL.M.s in Corporate Compliance]]> Fairly or not, when many people think of big business these days, they think of corruption and fraud.

Thanks to infamous scandals such as the fraudulent loss reportage at Enron in 2001, as well as the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing recession, concern about corporate malfeasance is high.

But that means that legal regulation is also on the upswing--and so are jobs that require a legal knowledge of corporate compliance.

"On the corporate and finance end, after the financial crisis in 2008, there were so many additional regulations put in place, such as Dodd-Frank [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010], and those “regulations have really had an impact on how companies do business," says Pam Kroh, director of graduate programs at Widener University Delaware Law School, which offers a corporate law regulatory analysis and compliance LL.M. concentration, as well as an LL.M. in corporate law and finance.

"Just keeping up with [those requirements] and powering a compliance program in the organization where you work is what we seek to help students accomplish."

Widener is one of several schools that offers LL.M. programs in this burgeoning field. New Jersey's Seton Hall launched an LL.M. in Financial Services Compliance in September 2016. Warwick University School of Law in the United Kingdom offers an LL.M. in International Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. London's BPP University offers an LL.M. in Financial Regulation and Compliance. Fordham University launched a corporate compliance LL.M. in 2014, which focuses on banking and financial regulations. And New York University Law offers a program Corporate Compliance and Enforcement.

And beyond the UK and the USA, compliance LL.M. programs are offered elsewhere in the world. The University of Hong Kong (HKU), for example, offers an LL.M. in Compliance and Regulation; and Fribourg University offers an LL.M. in Compliance as well, among others.

Officials say that these LL.M. programs are growing in popularity in response to a field that's expanding to meet new compliance requirements triggered by financial reforms such as Dodd-Frank, which brought about the greatest change to the United States' financial regulations since the Great Depression. Just as healthcare compliance programs grew in popularity as a field in response to the Affordable Care Act of 2010—“Obamacare”—corporate compliance programs are now expanding to meet the demand for professionals who understand how to help companies avoid the scandals and snafus that have dogged the financial world in recent decades.

Timothy Glynn, senior associate dean at Seton Hall, says that following Dodd-Frank, financial service regulators are focusing on encouraging the industry to implement effective self-regulatory mechanisms--which they need lawyers to understand, especially given raised industry standards.

Alice Brightsky, senior director of compliance programs at Fordham, agrees.

"Compliance is a hot and competitive field. It is getting harder and harder to 'do' compliance well for very long without a keen appreciation for the underlying 'why' of what's being done. The standards and the stakes have been raised too high to wing it," says Brightsky in an email.

All of this has led to an increased interest in these fields among students.

"It really is growing," says Glynn at Seton Hall, which is offering its new corporate compliance program either online, in-person, or in a hybrid format, as well as a compliance concentration as part of its J.D. students.

"We launched this program because being close to Wall Street, being in the New York area, we see the demand for those with a legal background in the field of compliance or financial services companies,” Glynn says.

Officials say that these programs are a natural fit for students who hail from certain fields. According to Brightsky from Fordham, which has now offered its compliance LL.M. for two years, students with a background in corporate law, tax, or finance are naturally drawn towards studying compliance.

Kroh from Widener says that students who pursue an LL.M. in corporate compliance are typically already practicing lawyers, working for companies such as Walmart or Johnson & Johnson, and are looking for that extra boost to their skills and expertise that they may not have received in their prior schooling.

"It seems like compliance is not the kind of thing that people go to school with an intent to do, in undergrad or J.D.," says Kroh. "But now these attorneys are finding themselves in a compliance position and are finding themselves seeking an LL.M., seeking to improve their skills. If they study regulations that impact compliance in different industries, they can exceed in their current positions or help enhance their other opportunities."

One draw of the Widener program, says Kroh, is that it serves as a qualifier to gain certification from the Compliance Certification Board. This board requires professionals who want compliance certification to take an exam and complete 1500 hours of relevant work experience, but a degree from Widener's LL.M. program exempts students from the work experience requirement.

A myriad of work opportunities after an LL.M. in compliance

Graduates from LL.M. programs in compliance usually find themselves well-equipped to fill many roles, officials say. Graduates with this degree can serve as legal counsel for companies that want to beef up their corporate compliance infrastructure.

"Sophisticated compliance operations need effective compliance counsel, to counsel them on what the law is, and what compliance structures may or may not be appropriate. One of the services [corporate compliance experts] provide is expertise on compliance," Glynn says.

Officials say that some students also go into the enforcement side of compliance after graduating from these programs.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llms-in-corporate-compliance Thu, 17 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[How to Pay for Your LL.M.]]> LL.M. programs can be very expensive. Even when you know the benefits will outweigh the cost as your career progresses, coming up with the funds on the spot can deter many potential LL.M. students.

Here we look at the common ways LL.M. students are gathering their funds, as well as a new loan scheme for international students that might be able to help fill some gaps.

The Associate Dean for International Studies at Duke University School of Law, Jennifer D’Arcy Maher, says, “the majority of our students are self-funded, but that means many things. I would say that many of them are cobbling together a basket of funds.”

Aside from scholarships, which can come from both within a school and externally, Maher says she sees students saving money themselves, getting loans from their family, or sponsorship from their employers.

“And some of them are doing all of those things.”

Tuition at Duke is currently around 58,000 USD, with living expenses in North Carolina totaling around 20-25,000 USD per year. In order to get student visas, Maher says students have to show that they have around 80,000 USD.

Scholarships for LL.M. students

[See related article: How to Apply for an LL.M. Scholarship]

Like most law schools, Duke offers a range of LL.M. scholarships in different categories.

At Duke, like at many schools, scholarships usually cover part, but not all, of tuition, and there is no set proportion of a cohort that will receive scholarships.

These scholarships can take many forms.

Maher says one of Duke’s major scholarships is for students from developing countries who are hoping to work in the public interest, who, without a scholarship, would not otherwise be able to fund their studies at Duke. This scholarship is funded by graduates.

Then there are scholarships for LL.M. students focusing on particular specializations, like environmental law, as well as scholarships for students from specific countries.

“And then we have a kind of general scholarship pool,” says Maher. “We allocate that both by need and merit, looking at students with high achievement and high potential, and students who have that also, but are unable to fund themselves.”

At the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Recruitment Officer Stewart Coubrough says the majority of their law students fund their studies from at least one scholarship.

Like other schools in the UK, at Strathclyde the tuition costs depend on whether you are a student from within the European Union or not.

As an example, an LL.M. in human rights law will currently cost an EU student 6,300 GBP, but 13,000 GBP for an international student.

“A lot of our scholarships are geared towards international students who are having to pay considerably more,” he says.

The faculty offers dean’s international excellence awards of 2-3,000 GBP.

“So if a student has got the equivalent of a 2.1[upper second-class honors] in their undergraduate degree, then they will automatically be eligible for 2,000 pounds. And if they’ve got the equivalent of a first class degree, we’ll offer them 3,000 pounds.”

Coubrough says there are also university-wide scholarships for international students and memorial scholarships, as well as school-specific scholarships, such as the law school’s post-graduate scholarship, available to both home and international students applying to an LL.M program. Each year there are 12 of these available for 1,000 GBP each.

Both schools keep a running list of possible scholarships on their website, however both Coubrough and Maher said it was hard to keep track of all the external scholarships, so students need to do their own research as well.

External scholarships can come from sources as varying as the Fulbright Scholar Program, to research institutes with specific specializations they would like to see a recipient focus on. Funding can also come with cultural affiliations from sources like the Jewish Vocational Service Scholarship Fund for Jewish people, as well as funds for students with disabilities or students from particular countries or states.

[See LLM GUIDE's scholarship directory]

Getting sponsored by your employer to do an LL.M.

If you don’t manage to earn a scholarship—or if you need more money to cover the cost of your LL.M.—there are other options, but it pays to plan in advance.

Maher at Duke says it’s surprising how often students carefully prepare their law school applications, but forget to think about how they will pay for their studies.

“I think students need to seriously think about where the funding’s going to come from, in addition to, ‘how am I going to put myself forward in the best light in my application’.”

One option to consider is sponsorship from an employer.

The usual arrangement is that a firm will pay for an employee’s tuition, and maybe even living costs, with the expectation that the employee will return to work with new skills stay with the firm for an agreed amount of time. If they choose to leave earlier, they might have to pay back some of the sponsorship – this should all be agreed upon in advance.

Maher says this arrangement can be worth it for employers who reap the benefits of an employee with improved English skills, advanced writing skills, and connections to a global network of alumni that a student makes while studying for an LL.M.

However, Maher says she has seen a decrease in the number of LL.M. students being sponsored by employers.

“It’s definitely gotten harder, and yet people seem to figure out how to do it because the value added to their lives is such that it is worth it,” says Maher.

Loans for LL.M. students

Another option is of course, loans. For US citizens and permanent residents who want to study in the US, there are federally-funded loans schemes like Stafford loans, which generally have better rates and more lenient repayment schemes than loans from private organizations.

Residents of the United Kingdom and other countries also have their own form of federal loans.

However, many loans come with a hitch: they require LL.M. students to either be a permanent resident of the country where they are studying. For international students, this can be problematic.

One way that international students are able to fill their LL.M. funding gap is with a loan from a platform like Prodigy Finance, which began offering loans to international LL.M. students this year.

After seven years supporting international MBA students, Prodigy, which was started by a group of MBA graduates, added students of LL.M., engineering and policy programs this fall.

Michael Hollis from Business Development at Prodigy Finance says securing funding “seems to be particularly difficult for international students”, creating a need that Prodigy is able to fill.

[See the LL.M. Scholarships / Funding discussion forum on LLM GUIDE]

Currently Prodigy is able to lend to international students who attend the top 15 US law schools, as determined by to the US News & World Report rankings. This includes Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and Duke University School of Law.

Hollis says they are hoping to include top-tier schools from the UK in the future.

To check for a student’s loan eligibility, Prodigy looks at their current salary and projected post-study earnings.

Prodigy can loan up to 80 percent of attendance costs (this includes tuition and living costs), but “students needs to have themselves at least 20% of attendance costs from non-debt sources of funding”, says Hollis.

The loans are usually set on 10-year terms, with a minimum loan of 15,000 USD.

Aside from Prodigy, there are other private loan sources for international students studying in the US, such as IEFA, which offers loans to international students if they are backed by a US-based cosigner.

It’s all about timing

The best advice for those short on funding for the LL.M. is to start early.

Stewart Coubrough from Strathclyde says that funding can be a major barrier to starting an LL.M.

Strathclyde’s internal scholarship application deadlines are generally in May, with results posted in June. Coubrough says if students haven’t found their funding by then, they generally aren’t able to start studying when the LL.M. program begins in September.

Many schools have separate deadlines for their scholarships, which are often earlier than the final deadline for application materials.


Image: Money by Mike Dunn CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/how-to-pay-for-your-llm Mon, 31 Oct 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Are Law School Rankings Relevant for LL.M. Programs?]]> Unlike MBA program rankings that hold heavy sway in applicants’ program choices, the closest you can get to LL.M. rankings are the more general law school rankings, which rank the school as a whole, or focus on undergraduate programs.

However, even non-LL.M. law school rankings can still give you a sense of a school’s reputation, as well as important factors like graduates’ employability, student satisfaction and the value a school can add to a student.

For example, it’s possible that a school that’s ranked strongly in the area of Intellectual Property Law would be a wise choice for somebody pursuing an LL.M. in that field. A prospective student can make certain inferences based on existing rankings.

Here we break down the methodology behind some of the major law school rankings, and what information there is to be gleaned from them.

US News & World Report’s “Best Law Schools” ranking

US News publishes an annual ranking of US-based law schools, as well as rankings for a wide range of specialties, including Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, Healthcare Law, and Intellectual Property Law.

Specialty rankings are based solely on the votes of legal educators who select up to 15 schools in each field.

US News’ ranking of top US law schools recently extended its coverage of schools beyond the traditional top 100, to now include the top three-quarters of schools surveyed. In 2016, the ranking lists 196 law schools.

In order to be ranked, a law school must be accredited and fully approved by the American Bar Association.

The US News ranking uses a number of measures that come under the umbrella of quality, and this makes up 40 percent of a school’s overall ranking.

A school’s quality is determined by a peer assessment score that asks deans, faculty chairs and other recently-appointed faculty members to rate a school’s programs. Additionally, there is an assessment by lawyers and judges, including hiring partners at legal firms, which helps to determine a school’s quality through the eyes of employers.

The next factor focuses on how students are selected for a law school’s programs, covering median LSAT and GPAs of undergrads entering full-time and part-time JD programs (note that this does not include LL.M. students). This also covers the acceptance rate – what proportion of applicants were accepted by a school, as a measure of what caliber of students a school is able to attract.

Next, the ranking looks at the placement success of its graduates JD: the bar pass-rate for first-time test takers, as well as the employment rate at graduation, and again 10 months after graduation. While none of these factors directly surveyed LL.M. graduates, the data can still give you an idea of what caliber of students a school attracts and what value it adds to their career.

The rates of employment are weighted depending on which types of jobs graduates get, and this factor also assesses whether it’s a short or long-term job, and whether it’s a job that required passing the bar exam.

Finally, the US News law school ranking assesses a faculty’s resources, looking at its expenditure per student, its student-faculty ratio, and its library resources – this is the total number of volumes and titles in a school’s library.

In addition to being able to sort schools by various factors on the US News ranking website, they also provide information on tuition and fees, as well as enrolment figures, although these are not part of the ranking.

Top 5 in most recent rankings (the 2017 edition) were: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and the University of Chicago, in that order.

The Guardian’s University Guide – league table for law rankings

The Guardian newspaper publishes a set of law school rankings as part of its University League Tables. The ranking only covers schools in the UK.

The 2017 ranking uses eight statistical measures of input and output to depict a university’s performance in a certain subject, such as law. So the measurements used are not specific to law schools, but rather used against many different subjects and faculty.

First of all, the Guardian ranking uses data from the UK’s National Student Survey to measure final year students’ satisfaction with teaching, assessment and feedback. Although student impressions are important, when looking at these scores it’s worth remembering that students at schools with bigger reputations may have very high expectations, whereas schools that have been ranked lower in the past may exceed students’ lower expectations.

The next factor is the value-added score, which follows students from enrolment to graduation, comparing their qualifications at entry with their awarded grad at the end of their program.

The Guardian ranking also covers student-staff ratios, where a low ratio is favored in the ranking, and expenditure per student. This measure excludes staff costs, as this is covered by the student-staff ration.

Next, the ranking takes into account the entry scores of first-year, first-degree students entering full-time programs. This only includes students aged under 21 at the time of entry, and seeks to measure the quality of students a school is able to attract.

Finally, the Guardian ranking looks at graduates’ career prospects six months after graduation. This is based on graduates who have recently completed undergraduate programs.

For the 2016 league tables, the Guardian’s law school top 5 were as follows: Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics, King’s College London and Queen Mary.

Alternative law school rankings

Aside from these two major rankings, there are some alternatives.

In the UK, The Times newspaper publishes the Good University Guide, which includes a league table for British law schools.

Also in the UK, the independently-published Complete University Guide uses data from the public domain to determine its rankings.

Both of these focus on undergraduate programs but can, again, give you an idea of a school.

In the US, the National Law Journal publishes a career-focused guide that ranks schools based on the number of associates a school supplies to the US’s biggest law firms. It should be noted that these graduates would have studied for JD qualifications, not an LL.M.

Meanwhile, the Internet Legal Research Group publishes two sets of law school rankings: one based on employment rate and the other based on median salary, using data from the US News rankings.

LLM GUIDE’s own rankings

LL.M. Guide publishes its own LL.M. rankings by popularity, based on unique page views for each of the schools profiled on our site.

We offer a worldwide top 100, as well as rankings by region, including the US, UK & Ireland, Europe, Asia, and more.


Image: Trophy Men by Gregory Blake CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/are-law-school-rankings-relevant-for-llm-programs Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Using the LL.M. to Take the American Bar Exam]]> Update February, 2017: Read In-Depth: The American Bar Exam for more information on the US bar exam.

When foreign students make their way to the United States to pursue an LL.M., they often have one major goal in mind: gaining eligibility to sit that white whale of legal tests, the American bar exam.

These foreign students choose to sit the American bar exam for a variety of reasons, according to Susan Karamanian, associate dean for comparative and international legal studies at George Washington University School of Law. Some foreign students need their bar results because they want to try to find a job as a lawyer in the United States. Others are undecided about where they ultimately want to live and practice law, and plan to take the bar so they’ll have the option to work in the US down the road. Still others have no intention of ever working in the US, but want a passing grade on an American bar exam to show to potential employers in their home countries.

But gaining eligibility to take the bar is not a simple process—and it’s one that often changes. That’s why directors and officials at LL.M. programs advise students to get their ducks in a row as early as possible by starting the eligibility verification process with a state’s licensing board.

“Start [the eligibility process] immediately,” says Julie Sculli, Brooklyn Law School’s Director of International Programs. “In an ideal world, have a response [on whether you are eligible] prior to starting your LL.M. degree.”

The requirements for foreign lawyers who want to sit the bar exam vary from state to state. Thirty states allow foreign-trained lawyers to sit their bar exams, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, but each of those states has a different stipulation beyond that, with eligibility determined by factors such as whether students attended a foreign law school that meets the American Bar Association's standards, whether they were educated in the common law or civil law system, whether they are authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction, or whether they are of sound moral character.

Of those thirty states, five—New York, California, Georgia, Washington and Wisconsin—allow students to sit the bar exam based on the completion of an LL.M. at an American school.

“Most want to use our LL.M. to take the bar,” says Sculli. “For us, that’s the number one reason why students are earning an LL.M.”

Using an LL.M. to sit the New York bar exam

New York is commonly known as the most popular state for foreign law students to sit the bar, since the state has a reputation for friendliness towards foreign lawyers. In fact, students who attended a three-year law school in an English-speaking, common law country are often eligible to sit the bar without even pursuing an LL.M.

But students from non-Anglophone, civil law countries who are planning to use an LL.M. to take the New York bar should be wary: the state tightened its eligibility requirements in 2012, with students now required to take a more strictly codified set of classes, including Professional Responsibility, legal research, writing and analysis, American legal studies, and topics tested specifically on the New York Bar. In 2015, the state also instituted a policy of requiring bar applicants to complete 50 hours of pro bono work.

And even students from Anglophone, common law countries should do their research to make sure that their degrees fulfill ABA requirements, which stipulate that students must hold degrees from schools that are accredited by a governmental agency in their home country. Students in this situation should also be aware that their programs need to be meet the standards set by the ABA. To prove that they meet these requirements, students must submit an online foreign evaluation by November 30 and supporting documentation from their law schools by February 1 if they are planning to sit the bar in February, with deadlines of April 30 and June 15 respectively for students sitting the bar in July.

Using an LL.M. to sit the California bar exam

The California bar exam is another popular target for LL.M.s. To gain eligibility to sit the bar in California, students must have a law degree from a law school that meets American Bar Association requirements, then pursue an LL.M. at an American school.

To prove that their foreign law degree confers bar eligibility, students must use a credential evaluation service to certify either that their degree is substantially equivalent to an ABA-approved program, or that their degree authorizes them to practice law in their home country. Then, students must complete at least 20 hours of coursework at an LL.M. or other law program, which must include courses in four subjects tested on the California bar exam, including a course on professional responsibility that covers the California rules of professional conduct. These courses must be completed within three years of the beginning of the student's studies in the United States.

How to prepare for the bar exam while pursuing an LL.M.

Of course, it can be difficult for students to parse all of these requirements, as well as study for the bar, all by themselves, especially when J.D. students have three years to prepare compared to the one year granted to most LL.M. students. That’s why many schools offer specific resources for LL.M. students to prepare to qualify for and take the bar. Boston University distributes a memo to its LL.M. students about how they can gain eligibility for and pass the New York Bar. Schools such as Penn State Law and Columbia Law School post detailed information about qualifying for the bar on their websites. In Georgia, a state where foreign lawyers must have already gained eligibility to practice law in their home country before sitting the bar exam in the US, Georgia State Law offers an LL.M. with a special bar preparation track. And law prep companies Kaplan and Barbri offer bar review courses specifically geared towards LL.M. students.

"Since LL.M. programs are so short, it's hard for them to do everything they need to do for the bar during that one-year program,” says Sculli of Brooklyn Law, which also offers a bar prep course independently of its LL.M. program. “This is a nice way for them to get a summary.”

Many schools that run LL.M.s geared towards foreign lawyers say they see these evolving requirements as an opportunity. Susan Karamanian, associate dean for comparative and international legal studies at George Washington University School of Law, says that her school’s LL.M. program adjusted its course offerings to make sure they corresponded with the requirements for the New York Bar. But she says it wasn’t difficult to revise the school’s curriculum, and that in fact, she and other officials view the pro bono requirement as an opportunity to encourage students to engage with the community.

“I consider [pro bono work] very important as it allows students to have first-hand experience in dealing with the needs of those who are unable to pay for legal services,” says Karamanian.

But although many schools are working to keep students up to date on bar requirements, all prospective students should keep in mind that these requirements are continuously changing and evolving. Starting in 2018, New York will institute a skills competency requirement for foreign-trained lawyers who want to sit the bar, which will result in more paperwork and more boxes to check off when students are applying. 

LL.M. programs with bar preparation tracks

Several schools across the country offer LL.M. programs with specific bar preparation tracks. These programs are designed with bar examination requirements in mind, to ensure that students emerge from the programs with their LL.M. as well as with all the information and skills needed to pass the bar exam. Schools that offer these bar track programs include:

  • Georgia State University 
  • University of Iowa
  • Duquesne University 
  • Boston University's Fundamentals Track
  • Drexel University

 

Photo by Philip Larson. 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/using-the-llm-to-take-the-american-bar-exam Mon, 19 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M.s in China: Studying Law in a Whirlwind Economy]]> When Perry Ackon was in his mid-twenties, he already had a job as a Child Marriage Service Officer at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, his home country.

But Ackon knew that he needed more education to further his career. Specifically, he needed to know more about law.

“What I've been doing deals with a lot of legal frameworks,” says Ackon. “I wanted to get something more substantial to provide a background in law.”

So Ackon applied to LL.M. programs all over the world. Although he received offers from schools in the Ukraine and Finland, he decided to accept an offer in an entirely different hemisphere: at Xiamen University in Xiamen, China.

Shanghai, a popular city for international LL.M.s studying in China.

As a country that’s rapidly developing both socially and economically, China is becoming an increasingly appealing destination for law students who want to learn about a land where the law is evolving to accommodate rapid change.

Chinese law is already complex: it’s influenced by an array of sources including Confucianism, Marxism, and the Soviet Union. But lately, even more influences have found their way into the country’s legal codes. As China has moved towards a more entrepreneurial socialism, the government has used law to preserve its historical Communist ideals, as well as bowed to pressure from trading partners to use legal methods to stabilize its economy and enforce its laws, according to the “Chinese Law Handbook,” a publication from the American Bar Association.

This mélange of legal traditions, both new and old, make the country a fascinating place for foreign students to further their law educations.

“China is now a developing country and I think some of the law is evolving in parallel to the changing times,” says a representative from Fudan University in Shanghai. “I don't know what European students think is interesting to them, but if I go to a European country, I want to compare some achievements [in China] with other countries.”

Several universities in China offer foreign students the opportunity to compare China’s evolving legal system with systems in the west. East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai offers an English-taught LL.M. in International Business; China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing offers English LL.M.s in international law and Chinese law; Peking University in Beijing offers a similar program, also in English; Fudan offers a program in Chinese Business Law; Xiamen offers a variety of programs in both International Law and Chinese law; and Peking University School of Transnational Law offers an English-language LL.M. in International and Chinese Law.

A number of law schools run English-language LL.M.s out of Beijing.

Students who attend these programs are typically interested in international legal careers, and want to come to China in order to gain some experience with comparative law, says Ursula Zipperer, communications director at the China-EU School of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law. This joint program between China and the EU is run by a team in Beijing and a team at the University of Hamburg in Germany. Students learn about Chinese law in their first year and European international law in their second year, and write their thesis in their third year.

Zipperer says that students who gain this expertise are usually well-positioned to find jobs in an increasingly globalized and interconnected marketplace.

“The ties between China and Europe grow stronger and stronger, especially in trade. Europe is one of China's largest trade partners,” Zipperer says. “People who both have a knowledge of Chinese law and European international law are highly sought after because of globalization, she says, “and Asia and Europe are knit so closely together, so the relationship becomes even closer.”

“To be familiar with both legal systems is a huge advantage for graduates.”

Ackon says that he’s discovered that the comparative aspect of Xiamen’s law program has been an invaluable part of his education.

“Not only is China rapidly developing, the LL.M. program here is useful for the international community,” Ackon says. “It’s all done with a background of Chinese law, but with lots of comparison with the international standard.”

China: A welcoming culture—but not many work opportunities for LL.M.s

Foreign students considering doing an LL.M. in China might be nervous about the extreme differences between Chinese culture and Western culture—not the least of which is the Chinese language.

Ackon says that one of the main cultural differences between his home country and China was in the realm of religion. Ghana is still a deeply Christian country, while religion is no longer a part of the fabric of Chinese life. But Ackon says that he finds the Chinese people welcoming and respectful of that cultural difference, and that overall, people have been willing to help him integrate into Chinese life.

“People are very welcoming,” he says. “I had no contact with the Chinese language before coming to China, and on my arrival I had four people willing to teach me Chinese. The people are already very, very welcoming and encouraging, helping to speak the language. It’s been a major breakthrough for me. I’m able to pick up very small phrases.”

But although students report that Chinese people are welcoming and open, unfortunately for foreigners who want to become lawyers in China, the legal licensing board is not so welcoming. Only Chinese nationals are permitted to take the exam that allows a law student to practice law in the country, which means that they can't appear in court or write opinions on Chinese law. However, non-Chinese LL.M. graduates can still find jobs with law firms and practice as foreign registered lawyers.

Nevertheless, the Fudan University representative says that more than half of the foreign students in that school's program stay on to work in China after graduation, finding legal roles in law firms or companies that don’t involve actually practicing Chinese law. Zipperer says that although many of her European students return home to find international law jobs, at firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, some of them find work at foreign law firms that are based in Shanghai.

As for Ackon, he’s got a plan: he wants to pursue a Ph.D. in international law and find a job as a lecturer at a university in China. Now that he’s found this country, he’s not sure he wants to let it go.

“Whoever comes in is not going to regret it,” says Ackon. “It’s a wonderful place. A very wonderful place.” 


Image credits:

  • "Shanghai, Nanjing Rd at night, photo by Nevilley" / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • "Central of Beijing, itsmo" by itsmo / CC BY-SA 4.0
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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llms-in-china-studying-law-in-a-whirlwind-economy Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M.s in Germany: Learning Law in Europe’s Biggest Economy]]> Question: if you’re an aspiring lawyer interested in the intersection of finance and law, what’s a good European country to pursue an LL.M.?

Answer: Europe’s strongest economy, of course.

It’s no secret that Germany is a leading economic powerhouse of Europe, with a GDP that ranks in the top five worldwide. For that reason alone, many law students from all over the world come to Germany to obtain an LL.M. and learn about how the country uses law to help its economy.

“Germany is an interesting, economically successful country and the economic success has some legal roots,” says Heike Schweitzer, academic director of the Master of Business, Competition and Regulatory Law at Freie Universität in Berlin. “The program we are offering tries to teach something about the conceptual roots of economic success in a way to help understand what kind of legal structure can help the economic process.”

Freie Universität is just one of the universities in Germany that teaches students how law and economics intersect. The ILF Institute for Law and Finance at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main offers an LL.M. in law and finance. Bucerius Law School in Hamburg offers a Master of Law and Business Program. Saarland University in Saarbrucken’s LL.M.s in European law include courses in economic law, foreign investment and trade. The University of Cologne offers both an LL.M. in Business Law and an LL.M. in French/Germany Business law.

And that’s not to mention the European Master Programme in Law and Economics—or EMLE—program, which is offered in partnership between the University of Hamburg and other European universities.

Besides its strong tradition of merging law and economics, Germany is also attractive to economic law students because of places like Frankfurt, a financial center with a variety of law firms and banks, including the European Central Bank, where business is often conducted in English. Shen-Dee Kobbelt, head of programs and marketing at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main’s Institute for Law and Finance, says her program, which is taught entirely in English, caters towards business people who want to understand law and lawyers who want to understand how their field intersects with business.

“Part of the curriculum is to do a certain amount of finance and business courses. So they basically have the benefits of law education, but they also know how businesspeople and financial managers work. [They get the] perspective of managers and bankers,” Kobbelt says. “It’s a quarter business people and the rest lawyers. They can share perspectives and bounce ideas off each other.”

Kobbelt also points out that Frankfurt is currently positioned to compete against Europe’s most famous financial capital, London, which may soon become less accessible to non-British citizens following the “Brexit” referendum this month.

[See all LL.M. programs in Germany.]

Although these programs are available to both domestic and international students, Schweitzer says that German students who want an LL.M. typically take the opportunity to study in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or France, so that they can study abroad and get some experience outside of the country. This means that often, many LL.M. programs in Germany attract mainly foreign students. For example, FU, which has 35 places, accepted students from 32 different countries this year.

Post-LL.M. job prospects in Germany and beyond

Besides hosting a financial capital and the tradition of merging law and economics, Germany also has another big asset to offer: the opportunity to find a job post-graduation in Europe’s strongest economy.

Ehab Shamah, an LL.M. student at FU from Syria, says he thinks many of his classmates chose to come to Germany so they could work in a rich and economically robust country. In his case, he chose FU because his brother already lived in Germany and because of the low cost of living in Berlin. Studying in Germany also gave him the opportunity to learn German, an important skill for living and working in the country. For his part, Shamah is planning to stay on in the country after he graduates; he has a job interview lined up with a German-based international law firm.

Of course, becoming a certified lawyer in Germany is a lengthy and arduous process, with seven or more years of legal education and clerkships required for students to become official members of the legal profession.

On top of the tangible work benefits of studying in Germany, officials also point out that the country has plenty of extra incentives to offer. Schweitzer says that many students are drawn to Berlin, known by many as one of the coolest, most multicultural cities in Europe. And Kobbelt says that traveling from Frankfurt is easy and cheap, a major draw for non-European students.

“For non-Europeans, it's a positive thing to be in Europe, to travel around Europe,” she says. “For Europeans it's not a big deal, but for people from the States or from Asia, then it's something special to be in Europe and to get to travel around Europe.” 

More info about LL.M. programs in Germany:

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llms-in-germany-learning-law-in-europe-s-biggest-economy Thu, 04 Aug 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M. Admissions: Tackling a Low TOEFL or IELTS Score]]> If you’re a law student from outside the English-speaking world who dreams of practicing law in the United States or United Kingdom, chances are you’ve considered pursuing an LL.M. in order to get your foot in the door of the legal establishment in one of these countries. 

But there’s one major hurdle that students from outside the English-speaking world face when applying for LL.M.s in one of these countries: proving their language chops. 

Many law schools require students to either submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, score, or an International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, score. These tests are administered year-round all over the world and are designed to assess students’ English reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills. The TOEFL is scored out of 120, while each of the four sections on the IELTS is scored out of 9.0. 

What TOEFL or IELTS score do you need to get into an LL.M. program?

To apply for an LL.M. program, many schools won’t accept students with a TOEFL score below 100, or an average IELTS score below 7.0. And in many cases, that verdict is final. 

“We don’t have wiggle room,” says Anne Flanagan, professor of communication law at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). “I believe that careful consideration has gone into what skill level it takes to do well on a particular program.”

Officials stress that this no-tolerance policy on TOEFL and IELTS scores is a safeguard for the sake of students. 

“What you cannot do is admit a student whose English is not good enough, because that's a disservice to the student,” says Carmen Perez-Llorca, director of the International Law LL.M. at the University of Miami School of Law.

“Even if you're really excited about the candidate, they're really impressive and they have unbelievable careers in their home country, if their English is not going to allow them to be successful, it's not a good idea to admit the student.”

Pre-LL.M. English options for students with low TOEFL or IELTS scores

But directors like Flanagan and Perez-Llorca don’t want to let highly qualified foreign students get away, just because their TOEFL or IELTS scores are low. That’s why many schools are starting special professional English courses to bring non-native speakers up to speed and give them a chance to gain admittance to LL.M. programs. This year, Miami, which requires a minimum TOEFL score of 92 or a minimum IETLS score of 7.0, launched an intensive English program specifically geared towards low-scoring LL.M. applicants. This three-semester program allows LL.M. students to complete one semester of intensive English before going on to regular LL.M. coursework. 

“We had noticed that we were getting many applications from qualified students, some of them really qualified, impressive students, that however did not have the minimum TOEFL score that we required,” Perez-Llorca says. “We do not believe in just lowering our standards when it comes to a TOEFL score, even when the student is very good.”

“Our idea, and the reason why we launched this program, is that rather than telling the students, ‘go learn some English and then come back,’ we would take them on and teach them the English skills they needed to succeed.”

One student in this inaugural year at Miami’s program is Lorena Senra, a law graduate from Spain who moved to Miami last year. Senra wanted to continue working in law in the United States, and believed an LL.M. would help her down that path. So she applied to and enrolled in Miami’s new program. 

Senra says that besides the English instruction classes, where she learns about legal writing, oral communication, and law vocabulary pertaining to subjects such as tort, civil, and criminal law, she’s also learning about cultural differences in communication. 

“In Spain or Latin America or even in Saudi Arabia, we tend to write a lot. To tell one idea we used to write paragraph after paragraph. Americans, just one sentence is the way they want it.

If you're not used to it, it's really complicated,” says Senra, who plans to complete her LL.M. at Miami before pursuing a J.D. there.

“Americans have a really systematic way to write, a certain number of paragraphs, certain types of sentences. We've learned those things.”

Although Queen Mary doesn’t offer a specialized LL.M. with a semester of legal English, the school does offer the option to attend several weeks of professional English training classes. At Queen Mary, a 7.0 on the IETLS—with a 7.0 in the IELTS writing section—is required for admission, but students with scores as low as 6.0 overall and 5.5 in writing can take up to 13 weeks of professional English class and then gain admittance to the program contingent on achieving a satisfactory score in class.  

Plenty of other schools also offer intensive legal English courses, including USC’s Gould School of Law, Boston University, Duke Law, American University's Washington College of Law, UC Davis, Georgetown Law, the University of Washington, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, and Yale Law.

Other schools outside of the United States that offer similar courses include the University of Edinburgh, LSE, and Bangor Law School.

Getting a better TOEFL score by going outside the classroom

For low-scoring students without the time, resources or inclination to pursue one of these intensive English courses, officials have one suggestion: study on your own, but don’t try to cheat the test. 

“I would advise them to improve their English,” says Miami’s Perez-Llorca, “but it's not about getting lucky.” 

Perez-Llorca and Flanagan at QMUL both advise students to self-study by immersing themselves in a wide variety of English language activities that include reading, writing, listening and speaking. 

“I would urge a student who knows they want to get ready for a master's program to have a clear approach to do that,” said Flanagan. “Watch television, movies, talk to someone, try to take notes from a news report, write it down, understand what's been talked about.” 

Flanagan says it takes 120 hours of study to level up in a language, so it’s no small feat to tackle this endeavor alone. But Flanagan points out that students who improve their English are only helping themselves, since a grasp of the language is essential for an international career these days.  

“Their brains have to hurt at the end of the day, and they're very brave to do it, but it's good for the global level practice of law,” she says. “You need to have facility in English in many firms to achieve that level of entry into the profession. I think it's a very valuable and worthwhile endeavor to try to achieve that.”


Image: John Keogh / CC BY-NC 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-admissions-tackling-a-low-toefl-or-ielts-score Wed, 29 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Vive la France: LL.M. Programs in the Country of Romance]]> When David Zaprosyan pursued a Master in European Legal Practice at the University of Hanover, he had the opportunity to spend one of his four semesters at one of Hanover's partner universities in countries including Portugal, India, Brazil or Vietnam.

Zaprosyan, now a research associate, ended up spending his abroad semester at the University of Rouen in France.

"In the field of International and European Law, it's a very good experience if you study in different countries, especially if you study in France, because they have a rich legal tradition," says Zaprosyan.

Zaprosyan is just one of the many international law students that attend an LL.M. or other law courses in France every year. Some French universities are part of two international LL.M. program consortiums: there's the alliance that Zaprosyan participated in, which includes Rouen and the Université du Havre, as well as an Erasmus program called the European Master in Law and Economics—or “EMLE”— which includes Aix-en-Provence University.

Besides those consortiums, the Université de Strasbourg offers some LL.M.s in French and others in English; Lyon Catholic University offers English-taught programs in international business and trade law; Sorbonne Law School offers a French-taught LL.M. in French and European Community Law; and Lyon Law School offers an LL.M. in International and European Business Law in English.

Many of the French-speaking programs are popular among native French law students. Michel Cannarsa, Director of Faculté de Droit at Lyon Catholic University, says 80 to 90 percent of French law students pursue a French LL.M., since the French system is different from the American system. In France, future lawyers study law as undergraduates for three years, then pursue a masters of law for one to two years before gaining their certification. This means that to become a lawyer in France, students must pursue at least a year of graduate study.

But English-language LL.M. programs in France also attract international students such as Zaprosyan. Many of these students hail from outside the European Union and come to Europe to cultivate an understanding of and expertise in EU business and law.

"Especially when they come from countries in Africa or South America, it's going to be quite important for them to know more about European Law, because most of the time there are relations between the EU generally speaking and other countries where the students come from," says Cannarsa. "It's an advantage when they go back to their country to be able to rely on legal skills" and their knowledge of European Law.

“And some students have the prospect of finding a job in France or Europe,” says Cannarsa, “so they might be attracted by the job market."

This rule also applies for some American students, says Rania Soppelsa, international development project manager at Université Pantheon-Assas and Sorbonne Assas International Law School, which offer an LL.M. in International Business Law.

Soppelsa says many of her students come from the United States to study in Europe because they already work at an American firm with international contacts. She also says that international students sometimes study in France because they are angling for a job in France's burgeoning international legal market, or potentially in an international branch of a French law firm.

French law firms have international branches everywhere and "they are looking for international lawyers," says Soppelsa, whose program, which started in 2012, instructs students in international business, arbitration and contract law at locations in Paris and Singapore.

But many European countries offer the opportunity to learn about EU law or to pursue a job at an international law firm. So why France? Directors and officials say students often gravitate to France specifically because of its rich culture and romantic reputation, and for the opportunity to learn its language.

"That's one of the reasons why they come to France,” says Lyon Catholic’s Cannarsa. They want to improve their French in professional terms and cultural terms."

Zaprosyan says he was impressed culturally by how communicative and friendly his fellow French students were. But he also says he encountered some cultural differences during his studies. For example, he says his German professors in Hanover facilitated more discussion and offered a wider range of topics for discussion in class, while French professors relied more on lectures and covered a narrower range of topics.

Besides the chance to learn French and experience French culture, studying in France also has a distinct advantage for lawyers from common law countries such as the US or UK: these students can develop an understanding of civil law systems through their experiences in Rouen, Paris or Lyon.

The flip side is that France's English-speaking LL.M. programs rarely attract native French students. Cannarsa says that French students who want to pursue their LL.M. in English often cross the Channel to study in Ireland or the U.K., where they can develop their English skills within the context of a different culture and legal system.

 


Image: La Chiquita / CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/viva-la-france-llm-programs-in-the-country-of-romance Wed, 08 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Joint Law / MBA Programs: Law or Business? Why Not Both?]]> Ben Lacey wants to be a lawyer. But that's not stopping him from getting an MBA.

Lacey is one of a small number of American students that pursue a joint law and business degree each year by enrolling in combination J.D. and MBA programs or combination LL.M. and MBA programs, with the intention of using business skills to improve law firms.

"I have always seen business as an integral part of nearly everything that we do in our day-to-day transactions," says Lacey, who's enrolled at Mitchell Hamline School of Law's joint J.D. / MBA program in Minnesota.

"That transcends into the law as well in my mind. Even if I were to wind up becoming an attorney at a Big Law firm, I would still likely need to have backgrounds in things that attorneys aren't necessarily taught, such as accounting, how to lead a team, and dealing with clients and services."

Lacey isn't alone in his desire to bring best business practices to the law. Many top business schools, including Stanford, Harvard and Columbia, offer J.D./MBA programs, where students earn both a traditional law degree and a business degree simultaneously. And a small number of schools, including Northeastern University, Chapman University and American University, offer dual MBA and LL.M. programs, where students can earn both degrees within the same two-year timeframe traditionally necessary to complete an MBA.

Of course, these are niche programs, aimed at a tiny minority of students who want both a business credential and a law credential on their resumes.

The joint LL.M. / MBA programs haven't exactly taken off: American University only enrolls two or three students in its program every year, while Northeastern, which instituted its program three years ago after complicated negotiations between the business school and the law school, hasn't even received any applications.

But directors and officials say that although applicants aren't battering down the doors of these programs right now, the state of the legal profession in the 21st century suggests that more and more students might start planning to distinguish themselves from the resume pile by earning extra degrees.

"More and more, students who are coming to law school are understanding that they need to be more nimble in their skill set," says Lynn LeMoine, Assistant Director of Admissions at Mitchell Hamline. "I wouldn't be surprised to see these kinds of things become more popular. People are coming to understand that being a lawyer might not be enough. They need that business acumen that makes them a more valuable attorney to a client."

Patrick Cassidy, LL.M. Program Director at Northeastern, says that his school instituted its joint program precisely because it hoped to target business-focused lawyers who wanted to set themselves apart from the crowd with their MBA credential.

"The reason we decided to create this program is because we felt there was a market for it and the right students would benefit from this accelerated time table," Cassidy says. "In our regular LL.M. program, we have a concentration in international business. It's very popular. Probably some of the same students who are interested in international business transactions but who would like that extra MBA credential [could attend the LL.M. / MBA program]."

Brian McEntee, Associate Director of Graduate Studies at American University's Kogod School of Business, says a different group of students typically enrolls in his program: students who are on the fence between law and business and want more options, but don't want to take the time to pursue an LL.M., then pursue a business degree.

"Most students are coming from the legal side, but are not sure if they want to continue with the legal side of things or double down with what they need in the business profession," McEntee says.”

"Students who are pursuing the LL.M. / MBA like to have the MBA as another arrow in their quiver."

He also says some of his students are planning to pursue careers as general counsels in corporations.

As for Lacey, after he leaves Mitchell Hamline, he wants to work in a county prosecutor's office or as a prosecutor of white collar criminals, while applying business techniques to improve efficiency and procedure.

Students considering following in Lacey's footsteps should know that these joint degree programs aren't for academic slackers. McEntee says at his program, students spend their first year completing MBA core coursework, and the second year completing most of the LL.M. requirements while finishing up the MBA. And LeMoine says many of her students start law school interested in the joint program, but ultimately don't end up pursuing it.

Lacey acknowledges that his academic path isn't easy, but it's certainly not impossible.

"I can't imagine working forty hours and trying to do it," he says. "It takes a sort of an aggressively go-getter attitude and a lot of scheduling and balancing your time. Sometimes you just don't get a break and that can be hard, but that's the nature of a dual degree. I think it's worth it."

Law students and lawyers should remember that like law schools, business schools vary dramatically in terms of areas of strength and overall quality. The AMBA, AACSB and EQUIS accreditations are an indicator of whether a school has reached a baseline level of quality, while business school rankings are also available to help students figure out whether a school is worthwhile. Visit FIND MBA to find out more about MBA rankings and international MBA accreditation.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/joint-law-mba-programs-law-or-business-why-not-both Tue, 17 May 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Tax Law and an International Perspective: Tax LL.M.s in Europe]]> When eighteen-year-old students matriculate at Maastricht University's undergraduate law program in the Netherlands, some of them have a very particular attitude towards one of Maastricht's specializations.

"They don't choose tax law," says Anouk Bollen, director of studies at Maastricht's LL.M. in tax law, which includes an international English-speaking tax LL.M. and a domestic Dutch-speaking tax LL.M. "They think it's boring."

But the students who do pursue Maastricht's tax specialization are starting on a road towards a career in one of the most sought-after legal fields in Europe.

Tax law LL.M.s are one of the most popular and valuable LL.M. degrees in the United States, with schools such as New York University, Georgetown and Boston University accepting a select number of tax enthusiasts every year, but that popularity also extends beyond America's boundaries.

Europe is home to a huge range of tax LL.M. programs. While some European law schools offer programs in domestic tax law, these are mainly taught in national languages and do not generally recruit students interested in international tax law.

In terms of English-language European LL.M.s that focus on international taxation, the top law schools are generally considered to be Maastricht, Vienna’s University of Economics and Business (WU), and Leiden University.

The Netherlands is home to a number of law schools that offer programs in this area, including Tilburg University, Amsterdam Law School, and Utrecht University School of Law.

Across the English Channel, London-based schools like LSE, King’s College London, and Queen Mary University of London also offer tax LL.M.s.

Although American tax law programs often prepare students for careers in New York or Washington D.C., European programs have a different focus. These English-language programs attract students from all over the world and produce tax lawyers who can navigate the increasingly complex world of international business.

"[After the program], some students go back to their home country, but they still are looking for jobs in the international tax law area," says Qunfang Jiang, coordinator of the International Tax Law LL.M. Program at Leiden. "Our program is more about tax law and an international perspective.”

Many students, according to Jiang, use the program to internationalize their career. “Before they come here they may do domestic tax law,” says Jiang, “but after they have this degree usually they do more international business."

In this respect, students who pursue an international tax degree in Europe can go on to work in a variety of capacities, such as advising multinational organizations and governments about investments and taxation; working in private or public firms; or bringing international expertise to the Big Four, all lucrative and plentiful positions in today's increasingly interconnected world.

"[International] tax is a very important topic because globalization is a very hot topic and tax is very much related to that," says Barbara Ender-Rochowansky, organizational manager of the LL.M. program in International Tax Law at Vienna's WU. "People need to have these kinds of skills if they want to work in this area and get in touch with clients.”

“It's a very good starting point, to get this LL.M. here, then go wherever there is to go and have the skills and knowledge to be successful."

Officials say that students who pursue this degree typically transition directly into the workforce.

"We tend to follow our alumni and within a very short period, they all get a job quite quickly," says Eric Kemmeren, director of Tilburg's International Business Tax Law Program, which the school launched in 2013 in response to a growing need for international tax lawyers.

Will I get into the Tax LL.M. of my choice?

Many tax LL.M. programs in Europe admit between one-quarter and one-third of students who apply. Ender-Rochowansky says WU takes 25 out of 100 applicants, while Jiang says Leiden receives about 150 applications every year and admits between 50 and 60 students, many from countries such as China and Indonesia or from regions such as Latin America.

Jiang says the most important components of an application tend to be education and work experience.

"I think international tax law is a very specialized area," says Jiang. "We have some applicants who don't have any experience in this area, and it's a bit difficult for them to study in our program."

Bollen says that some successful international applicants to Maastricht have already been working in international tax law before they apply to the school, while domestic applicants often specialized in tax law during their undergraduate studies, an undergraduate specialization peculiar to the Netherlands, since many European universities don't allow students to specialize their undergraduate law degrees.

Kemmeren says the application process at Tilburg is based on whether the admissions committee thinks the applicant will succeed in the program and beyond.

"We must have a feeling, based on the materials selected, that there's a real chance of success," he says.

"It's not really helpful for the individual student when he or she starts and doesn't have a sufficient chance of successful completion within a year. Grades, motivation, and recommendation by professionals or professors helps us to get an idea of what the potentials are of the individual students."

Of course, since the international tax programs are taught all in English, officials and directors say it's also essential for students to have strong English-language skills.

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/tax-law-and-an-international-perspective-tax-llm-s-in-europe Wed, 20 Apr 2016 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Living an International Life in England]]> Adéla Kratenova completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in law in her home country, the Czech Republic. But when Kratenova, who wants to work in international commercial law, decided she needed more legal education, she knew there was only place for her to go: England.

"It's an English-speaking country, so I'd rather go to the UK than go to another European country," says Kratenova, who's studying at Nottingham Trent University. "And if you want to improve your knowledge in international law, it's the best way to go to an LL.M."

Kratenova is far from the only student who chose to study in England to improve her language and international legal skills. Over 50 law schools in the country offer LL.M programs that cater to students like Kratenova, offering specializations ranging from sports law to oil and gas law to human rights law.

Of course England is not a homogenous place: the country ranges from the bustle of London, a world-class capital, to the farmland and small villages of its rural districts, to small post-industrial cities like Manchester and Birmingham. Although the advantages of London are obvious, students are also drawn towards England's lesser-known areas, such as Nottingham, a small city with historical ties to the Robin Hood legend and two international airports nearby; Manchester,with its sports and music history; and Cambridge and Oxford, both quaint historic college towns.

Directors and officials at schools in these various locations say that they attract international students from all over the world who want to take advantage of England's unique position as a country that speaks the language of international business, is home to a large international population, and practices the most popular form of law in the world.

"That's one of the outstanding features of the law culture here: it's incredibly international and oriented towards regional and legal systems," says Andrew Fagan, Human Rights LL.M. co-director at Essex.

Pursuing an LL.M. in England gives international students the opportunity to learn one of the most important skills for anyone pursuing an international career these days: English language skills. But learning English law has another advantage. The English legal system is one of the most common and popular systems used in international business; even parties from non-Commonwealth countries often use English law to craft international deals or resolve international disputes.

"English law is used in a number of associations that have nothing to do with England," says Alfonso Valero, principal lecturer at Nottingham Trent University's law school. "If there's a party from Japan and another party in Russia, the reason why they're choosing this law is because it's neutral to both of them. It offers them the possibility of a law that is accessible to both of them."

Many students also come to England from civil law jurisdictions, such as countries in continental Europe, Asia, or South America, and are seeking the opportunity to learn a common law system.

"These days when you're representing clients that have interests all over the world, [it's important] to get exposure to common law and civil law jurisdictions," says Anne Flanagan, professor of law and LL.M. director at Queen Mary, University of London.

"I would say that the LL.M. is, for many civil law jurisdictions, an essential step to being a recognized expert in the field."

As a result, England is especially popular for students who want to pursue international trade law, international business law, and commercial law, officials say.

Visa problems

In 2012, the United Kingdom changed its visa requirements for students planning to work in the country after graduation. Prior to April 2012, students could stay in the UK to work for two years after graduation without applying for a new visa. But the new regulations required students to switch over to the Tier 2 visa scheme, which requires students to secure an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer to stay in the UK.

The changes also increased English language requirements for incoming students as well as tightened requirements for students to demonstrate that they could support themselves while studying in the UK.

This change has complicated matters for some international students studying at these LL.M. programs.

"Sometimes we get students two or three weeks into the term who are still waiting for their visas," Flanagan says. "There is an element of burden on the applicants."

Fagan says the changes have made it more difficult for Essex students to pursue internships while at school. But he also says the changes haven't caused enrollment to drop or driven international students away from LL.M. programs in the country.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "See all LL.M. Programs in the UK", "link": "/schools/uk-ireland/uk"}%

That could be because many international students want to come to England to study, learn the country's legal system and language, but then move on instead of trying to stay and work in the country.

Indeed, Fagan says his students have gone on to work all over the world. One of his former students is now a specialist on contemporary racism with the European Union; another is the vice chair of the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights; another works for Mercedes Benz on corporate and social responsibility. Other students work for the United Nations and the United States State Department.

"They come from everywhere and they're going to everywhere," Fagan says.

And it's still unclear about how Brexit will affect the visa process for LL.M. students.

Domestic numbers on the rise

Although England is a popular country for international students to pursue LL.M.s, officials say that the number of domestic applicants is also on the rise.

"The domestic legal market, like any market, is very competitive," says Marios Koutsias, director of the commercial law LL.M. at Essex. "If you would like to compete with people in niche markets and you would like to find a position in this field, it very much helps for the employer to know that you're specialized rather than just having an LLB."

Koutsias says Essex has seen the number of domestic students rise in the past three years, a trend he attributes to the uncertain British economy.

"Numbers [of domestic students] rise at the same time with economic crises," Koutsias says. "Some students wanted to delay their entry into the job market, but if you delay and don't do anything, it doesn't look good. If you add academic qualification, that's something significant."

 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/living-an-international-life-in-england Wed, 23 Mar 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Wanted for LL.M. Programs: Tax Nerds]]> Richard Ainsworth, director of Boston University's Graduate Tax Program, is looking for one trait in applicants to his program.

"We're looking for tax geeks," Ainsworth says. "You have to show us that you like numbers.”

Common wisdom holds that the tax LL.M. is one of the most valuable post-J.D. law degrees, and the numbers tend to back that up. The median salary for a lawyer is just over $70,000, according to PayScale, a site that tracks average salaries for various professions, while the median salary for a tax lawyer hovers around $100,000.

The American Bar Association lists 32 law schools that offer LL.M. programs in either taxation or international taxation in the United States. These range from schools like NYU School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, which are highly regarded in the field, to lower profile schools like the University of Alabama and Capital University.

Students in tax LL.M.s learn the ins and outs of all things tax, from basic topics such as general taxation, business taxation and international taxation to more niche topics such as estate planning, state and local taxation, bankruptcy, civil and criminal tax procedure, and taxation of executive compensation.

In the United States, many tax-bound students gravitate to the "Big Three" tax LL.M. programs, at NYU, Georgetown Law, and the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. These schools are currently ranked as the top three law schools in US News and World Report's ranking for tax law, and their LL.M. programs are often seen as the most coveted for tax professionals. (See the top 11 tax schools, according to the current US News ranking, below.)

Of course, you can expect stiff competition to get into one of these top programs. Fortunately, a little enthusiasm for the subject can go a long way. Directors and officials at Georgetown and NYU echo Ainsworth's statement about tax nerds: If you're passionate about the subject, and not just looking for a high salary once you have your degree in hand, you're much more likely to receive an admissions offer.

"We want as much insight as possible about applicants' enthusiasm for tax," says Josh Blank, faculty director of the Graduate Tax Program at New York University. "We look at work experience, at the personal statement, and we look at the recommendation letters from the applicants' law school letters and from employers really closely. We are able to get a sense of how enthusiastic students are about tax and their abilities in the area through these letters."

Internships are another way to show admissions committees that you are serious about tax, say directors.

Having done an internship “shows you outside of the classroom having an interest in tax. That's the full tax person," says Ainsworth, adding that he likes to be able to google applicants and see that they have interned or published articles in the tax realm.

Directors say that students should also make sure to take at least a few tax courses beforehand, so that they have a basic understanding of some of the core topics. NYU’s Josh Blank says that he knows that not all JD programs offer a wide variety of tax classes, so he doesn't expect students to be experts, but that they shouldn't be complete novices either.

"Most of the students who apply to us are so excited about tax that they've at least taken a basic tax class," Blank says.

Those concerned about getting into a tax LL.M. program might take solace in the fact that, even for the top programs, admissions standards aren’t as high as they were six years ago. Directors at Georgetown, NYU and BU all report a bubble of applications between 2008 and 2010, when a dire job market caused by the recession encouraged more students to pursue higher education. Luckily for current applicants, the number of applications have returned to pre-2010 levels, say directors.

Finding a tax law job after your LL.M.

Tax LL.M. graduates can aim for a variety of different jobs, including working at private practice law firms or public accounting firms, holding judicial clerkships at Tax Court, or consulting. 

Directors caution students that a tax law LL.M. will not guarantee a job in any of these fields-- but just as with the school application process, students can take certain steps to increase their chances of employability.

"If you do well, and you have something published somewhere, so your name shows up, if you have a Google presence, if you do reasonably well in the program, you're going to get a job," Ainsworth says. "If you're like Casper the ghost, if you went through the program and did average but have no external visibility, then you're relying on [connections] to get you a job. Then someone else has to help you."

Ainsworth says that students can increase their employability by pursuing more niche areas of the tax field. Every student at every tax program across the country takes classes in federal income tax and ethics, he says, but pursuing a more eclectic area of expertise, such as value added tax, can increase your employability.

Stafford Smiley, faculty director of the Graduate Tax Program at Georgetown University Law Center says the employment numbers for recent tax graduates aren't as stellar as they once were.

"In the past five to ten years, the number of students who were already placed when they graduated has gone down markedly, but that's the economy. That's gone down everywhere," Smiley says. "If you take the snapshot somewhat after graduation, you start to see good numbers again."

Smiley says that one advantage for Georgetown students is the school's connection to Washington, D.C., where students can intern with tax-focused Congressional committees, at the IRS or at other governmental organizations, thus gaining perspective and expertise that students elsewhere might not have access to.

Is a tax LL.M. worth it?

Given the rather large investment required for a top tax LL.M. program, some potential applicants might question whether it's worth it. Many tax professionals agree that if a student selects a law school carefully and develops a strong profile, a tax LL.M. will probably pay off in the long-run. A school's prestige tends to be especially true for those who want to work in tax practice in top law firms. For example, of the 37 partners, associates, and counsel who work in tax at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and are listed on the company's website as having LL.M.s, the majority of them —31— did those degrees at either NYU or Georgetown.

At Latham & Watkins, the situation is similar: of the 14 tax partners, associates, or counsel who are listed as having LL.M.s, 11 did those degrees at either NYU or Georgetown.

But in the end, tax law will most likely remain a lucrative field, since despite some empty promises by the occasional politician, there's no risk that taxes will go away anytime soon. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, " in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Top tax LL.M. programs

Here's a list of the top law schools in the tax specialty, according to US News:

1. NYU

2. (tie) Georgetown University

2. (tie) University of Florida

4. Northwestern University

5. University of Virginia

6. University of San Diego

7. Boston University

8. (tie) Columbia University

8. (tie) Harvard University

10. Loyola Marymount University

11. UCLA


Image: "Numbers And Finance" by reynermedia on Flickr (cropped and rotated)

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/wanted-for-llm-programs-tax-nerds Thu, 10 Mar 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Pursuing an LL.M. Without a Background in Law]]> [See related article: Juris Masters, MSLs and Beyond: Master of Laws Programs for Non-Law Graduates]

Emma Sheffield studied international relations during her undergraduate degree, and she currently works in the field of genocide prevention. Specifically, she gathers testimony from and conducts interviews with Holocaust survivors.

But Sheffield hopes to work with survivors of contemporary genocides, and for that, she needs an understanding of international law.

"In order to go out and gather research in a field, it has to be able to stand up in court," Sheffield says. "That's a necessity these days. With the Holocaust, that angle is not so fierce, because obviously so much time has passed. It's a different mentality towards convictions now. Sooner or later the ICC [International Criminal Court] will try these people, for contemporary situations, and the evidence you're gathering needs to be able to stand up in tribunals."

That's why Sheffield is pursuing an LL.M. in Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham, one of several schools that allow students with non-law backgrounds to pursue an LL.M.

Schools that accept students non-lawyers tend to place restrictions on the kind and number of non-legal students they accept.

For example, La Trobe University in Melbourne accepts students with a commercial background into its global business LL.M., while the University of Edinburgh accepts some history, international relations and politics students into its International Law LL.M.

St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami offers an Intercultural Human Rights LL.M. to teachers, activists and governmental workers, along with lawyers.

Other schools require that non-law students demonstrate an interest in law. Bucerius Law School in Hamburg offers a dual master's degree in business and law to students from any academic background, but applicants must first demonstrate their legal knowledge.

The European Master in Law and Economics (EMLE), an Erasmus program, accepts students with law and economics backgrounds, but will consider students with business administration or social science backgrounds provided that those students have taken classes in law and economics. London School of Economics requires non-law applicants to pass a conversion course to matriculate at their LL.M. program.

Officials at these schools say that students from non-law backgrounds choose to pursue LL.M.s for a variety of reasons.

"We probably have people from every degree program from the arts and humanities degrees during the LLM," says Sangeeta Shah, co-director of the University of Nottingham's LL.M. programs. "The most common degrees are history, journalism, politics and English, as well as people who have been out working in the world."

The University of Nottingham's programs tend to attract internationally-minded professionals who have worked for the United Nations or other governmental organizations, who want to learn the legal issues surrounding their chosen careers, as well as to make themselves more marketable.

Emma Sheffield says that in her career so far working in human rights, conflict and post-conflict, she constantly needs information about the law.

"For me it's invaluable. Just because you're not a lawyer doesn't mean that you don't have to deal with the law every day, all the time," Sheffield says.

Portsmouth University, which offers a general LL.M., an LL.M. in corporate governance and law, and, beginning in fall 2016, an LL.M. in alternative dispute resolution, tends to attract students from a different background: the business world.

"One big reason that we see is to gain a specialist expertise in a given professional area," says Joanne Atkinson, principal lecturer at Portsmouth. "For example, with the corporate governance masters, non-law grads tend to be people with a background in business or finance, or they're people who are already working in big organizations and want to take the next step up, and want to gain the accreditation that will allow them to proceed to the next stage in their career."

Portsmouth officials actively encourage non-law graduates from all walks of life to apply to their programs; these students simply must take a one-module law course upon matriculation into the program.

But officials from other schools often add stipulations to their policies on admitting non-law grads.

Sangeeta Shah says that Nottingham tends not to accept science students into LL.M. programs, since the degree relies heavily on essay writing and many students with a science background don't have as much writing experience. She also says the school tries to avoid accepting any non-law graduates into its commercial law LL.M. program.

Some schools don't accept non-law students into their LL.M. programs at all, but instead allow non-law students to apply to similar master's degrees. Jason Rudall, program manager of the Graduate Institute's LL.M. program in Geneva, says that his school will only accept law students into its LL.M., and that non-law students should instead pursue the Master in International Law or the Master in International Affairs, a program that allows students to complete a minor concentration in law.

Rudall also says that although the institute technically accepts non-law students into its Master in International Law, it has accepted fewer and fewer of these types of candidates in recent years.

"Applications have become stronger, as it were, and the quality has become better and numbers have increased, [so]we have been able to select students with a law background," Rudall says.

"It's been exceptional that students from a non-law background have been admitted to that program lately."

But despite these restrictions, officials also say that non-law students can often excel in LL.M. programs, and that they often enrich the classroom for other students as well.

"The ways that they improve the classroom is that they tend to be the students who think outside the box," Nottingham's Sangeeta Shah says. "They don't think in terms of rigid laws. They think, this is where I need to get, let me figure out how to do it. They tend to be creative thinkers. Not that law students aren't creative thinkers, but it just enriches the classroom. It makes it a better place."

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/pursuing-an-llm-without-a-background-in-law Mon, 22 Feb 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[LL.M. Admissions: The Importance of Class Rank]]> Whether he's looking at an applicant’s class rank or a GPA, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions at Georgetown Law Justin Swinsick has one thing to say about the cold, hard numbers on a transcript.

"Grades matter," Swinsick says. "There's no way to get around that. And when we do have a class rank that comes into play, we like to see top third."

Class rank refers to how well a student did compared to her peers. For example, a student at American University's Washington College of Law who graduated in 2015 with a law school GPA of 3.83 or higher fell into the top five percent of his or her class.

Schools in the United Kingdom use a different system, awarding a classification called first class honors to the highest-achieving students of a graduating class, then second class honors, divided into upper second honors (or "2:1") and lower second class honors (or "2:2"), to the next-best group, then third honors.

Australia uses a system of High Distinction and Distinction, while some schools, such as the University of Melbourne, require that students apply to graduate with honors, which they can accomplish by completing a research project.

These numbers and distinctions help LL.M. programs, as well as employers, assess the meaning of a GPA from a certain law school program.

Many law schools don't release rankings, so some students applying to LL.M. programs don't have a class rank. Deborah Call, Associate Dean of Graduate and International Programs at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law, says that since USC does not rank its undergraduate law students, class rank is not very important for admission into the school's LL.M. program, which is geared towards international students.

"Absolutely the grades are very important, but with the ranking, sometimes we find that it's hard for us to ascertain what the average GPA might be with the grading system. Oftentimes the class ranking is relative only to that school," Call says.

Although class rank varies in importance depending on the LL.M. program, there's no question that law school grades play an important role in admissions decisions for top LL.M. programs. Fred Brown, an associate professor of law at the University of Baltimore's School of Law and Director of that school’s Graduate Tax Program, counsels Baltimore undergrads who are interested in pursuing an LL.M. at schools such as New York University and Georgetown. NYU has stated that it tends to accept students who graduated in the top 25 percent of their law school class, while Swinsick says Georgetown looks for a minimum B or B+ average, which equates to 3.0 and 3.5 on the four-point GPA scale, respectively.

Many selective LL.M. programs outside of the United States also say that they seek prospective students with top academic credentials. Queen Mary University of London advises that law students achieve a high 2.2 (second second) honors and at least five years of professional experience, while the University of Toronto generally requires students to have a minimum B+ standing.

Is a low GPA or class rank a dealbreaker for LL.M. applications?

These grades might seem difficult for stressed-out law students to achieve. But admissions directors say that students who don't have stellar GPAs can take a number of steps to counteract that lower number. For example, Swinsick says that students applying to Georgetown's Environmental Law LL.M. or Taxation LL.M. will have an advantage if they achieved higher grades in classes specific to their specialization. Brown says he gives his students the same advice.

"I've seen this over the years: some students may not do as well in courses that are more common law or case law based, but might do better in tax or other statutory courses," says Brown.

"The way I see it is, how a student does in a complicated stat law course is a little more important than their overall GPA."

Admissions directors also say they look at a variety of other factors that might have an impact on grades or rankings, including improvement over time, involvement in other activities, and whether students had to work through law school.

"If a student ends up with an average ranking, started poorly but got a lot stronger at the end, that would be in the candidate's favor," Swinsick says, adding that the converse is also true. "If somebody's incredibly active in extracurricular activities, perhaps devoted a little too much time to them, we'll take that into consideration. And sometimes students had to finance law school all on their own, and this also had an effect on grades."

Brown also says that students with a lower GPA or class rank should consider getting involved in specialization-specific extracurricular activities, such as a tax journal or tax clinic for students interested in a tax law LL.M.

If extenuating circumstances aren't clear from resumes or transcripts, admissions directors say students should use the subjective portions of their applications to clarify their situations. Letters of recommendation and personal statements are the ideal forums to explain these kinds of circumstances.

"Sometimes I find that students don't spend as much time, they don't put the care into that personal statement as they really should," Call says. "It makes such a difference to us. We typically have three people read a file and we use a rubric as we read the files, and invariably that personal statement can be the determining factor when we're looking at an applicant's profile."

Call also encourages students to reach out to USC officials to clarify reasons behind low GPAs.

"We encourage them to give supplementary information about themselves, to provide their own self-assessment in terms of what might have stood in their way, and what caused them to perform less well than they feel that their potential might have been," Call says."We have applicants do that, and certainly we pay attention to that, to personal factors, personal circumstances that were going on with their life, that affected their performance."


Image: By Ellywa - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, (cropped) https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39622698

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-admissions-the-importance-of-class-rank Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Two-Year JD Programs for Foreign Lawyers]]> Julia de la Parra, a lawyer from Argentina, received her JD in Buenos Aires in 2008, spent four and a half years working there, then completed an LL.M. at Northwestern University and assumed an associated professional job at a North Carolina law firm.

But since only four US states allow foreign students with an LL.M. to sit the bar, de la Parra was unable to work as a lawyer at her new company.

"For someone with an international background, if you don't want to limit yourself to the basics of trying to find a job in New York [one of the states that allows LL.M. students to take the bar], you basically need a JD if you want a career in the States," she says.

That's why de la Parra decided to enroll in Wake Forest University's new two-year JD program, one of a growing number of truncated JD programs that's sprung up in the US in the past few years.

There are two types of two-year JD programs: accelerated JD programs, which are geared towards American students who don't want to spend three years out of work, and international JD programs, which are geared towards international students like de la Parra who already hold an undergraduate degree in law from their home country.

The concept of the two-year JD has existed for several years. Northwestern University School of Law was one of the first US law schools to offer a two-year JD program; the school inaugurated a program geared towards domestic students in 2008, but dismantled the program this year due to low enrollment and changes in the American Bar Association's regulations regarding students who have taken the GMAT, which was a target demographic for Northwestern. 

Northwestern, however, continues to offer a two-year program aimed at international attorneys—one of the first of such programs—which covers a range of topics in US law and is integrated with the school's traditional three-year JD program.

A number of other US law schools have recently rolled out similar JD programs aimed at international lawyers. Fordham University, Drexel University, and Wake Forest University have all inaugurated such programs in the past two years. Other schools, including the University of Arkansas, DePaul College of Law, the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law, the University of Kansas, and SUNY Buffalo, also offer similar programs.

The advantages of holding an American JD are manifold for foreign lawyers. A JD can help students like de la Parra achieve eligibility for the bar exam, and also help them achieve certifications in two countries. These programs also benefit universities by drawing bright, intelligent foreign lawyers who enrich classrooms and alumni networks.

"We decided to start the new program because of opportunities to attract highly qualified, interesting law students in a variety of innovative ways against really tough competition. There are lots of great law schools in the US and we're willing to make the investment to travel the world to find these lawyers," says Dean Roger Dennis from Drexel.

But although American JD degrees are often helpful for foreign lawyers, spending three more years on legal education can be a deterrent for foreign lawyers who have already spent years on their studies. That's where two-year JDs come in.

"Saving the extra year of living expenses and getting back into the job market a year earlier makes the program economically attractive to students," says Dennis.

Schools like Drexel are able to allow foreign students to complete their degrees in two years because of the American Bar Association's stance on foreign credit. As long as a student has completed a foreign law program that meets ABA standards, one-third of the credits for an American JD can come from the foreign program. This policy also translates into cost savings for students, since foreign law schools are often much cheaper than American schools.

But students at two-year international law programs still must fulfill all of the same requirements as students at three-year programs.

"Their first year of the two-year JD program is exactly like the first year of a three-year JD program. They take all 1L required courses," says Dick Schneider, associate dean for international affairs and law professor at Wake Forest University. "Those are the courses that are tested most thoroughly on the bar exam."

In general, the shortened program translates into fewer electives for these students, since students typically have flexibility in choosing electives during their third year in law school.

One consideration for lawyers and students applying to these two-year JD programs is whether Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores are required for application. Schools such as Fordham, Drexel, DePaul, Arkansas and SUNY Buffalo don't require the LSAT for foreign lawyers applying to two-year JD programs. However, Wake Forest, the University of Kansas and USC Gould do require students to submit scores.

Networking opportunities

Officials say that two-year international programs benefit not only foreign lawyers and universities, but also the international lawyers' future American colleagues.

"It's great for domestic lawyers to work with a lawyer from Germany, a lawyer from Pakistan, and have the perspective of a practicing lawyer from a foreign country," says Drexel’s Roger Dennis.

One foreign lawyer who will contribute her expertise to American law firms is de la Parra, who is planning to work in New York City in summer 2016. 

But these programs are attractive even to lawyers who have no intention or ability to stay in the United States, says Schneider. These students are happy to achieve dual accreditation and return to their home countries with proof of their academic and English-speaking prowess.

"Students are interested in getting this kind of degree, and it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to stay here," Schneider says. "Even if they do graduate and get the JD and pass the bar, they still might have issues with visa and residence requirements that wouldn't make it easy for them to stay in the US. They're happy to go back to their home environments and be accredited in two jurisdictions."


Image: University of Saskatchewan/Dave Stobbe / Flickr (cropped)Creative Commons

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/two-year-jd-programs-for-foreign-lawyers Mon, 11 Jan 2016 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[LL.M. Programs in London: Studying Law in a Legal Capital]]> London is a draw in many ways. It’s not only one of the biggest cities in the world but is also a bustling hub of commerce and one of the world’s centers of arts and culture.

And there’s no question about it, London is one of the world’s biggest—if not the biggest—legal capitals.

“You've got the big international law firms with offices here; you've got the UK Supreme Court,” says David Collins, the director of LL.M. programs at City University London. “But you've also got the international tribunals, and the London Court of International Arbitration,” among other legal institutions.

Indeed, not only does London host the head offices of Big Law firms like Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, the city is also a center for international courts and a hub for media, technology, and banking and finance; all places where many LL.M.s want to work.

For potential students seeking to study at the heart of the action, there is no shortage of LL.M. programs in London. Most international students will most likely be interested in the LL.M. programs offered by the four main law schools in the University of London system: the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University College London (UCL), King’s College London (KCL), and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Smaller LL.M. programs are also offered through other colleges in the University of London system like the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) and SOAS, as well as by schools outside of the University of London system, such as City University London and Notre Dame Law School.

Doing an LL.M. at one of these law schools gives students many opportunities to network and build connections. 

According to law school officials, students studying for the LL.M.s in London might find that their professors and guest lecturers are actually working in law firms and elsewhere. “The people who are coming in to teach are often actually practicing at the same time,” says Pippa Heath, director of professional development at QMUL. 

Heath says that students can leverage and build upon these connections. “At the very highest level students are able to make these links with the different firms, and they can find opportunities within them,” she says.

And of course, many law schools in the city offer focused networking events, where LL.M.s can rub elbows with representatives from law firms and other organizations.

Getting outside the classroom

Studying in London also gives students many opportunities to develop valuable hands-on experience, through internships and professional skill development workshops.

According to Geoffrey Bennett, the director of Notre Dame’s London Law Program, students in Notre Dame’s London-based LL.M. program have interned in a huge range of organizations. Students have done “internships with barristers in London,” Bennett says. “We've always had one person placed in the legal department of the US embassy in London, and we've placed people in American law firms in London.”

Officials at law firms in London say that LL.M. students are increasingly taking advantage of working with startups and entrepreneurs in London Tech City—often known as Silicon Roundabout— the city’s booming center for technology innovation.

“We have a very close relationship with the startup community in the London Tech City area” says City University London’s David Collins. LL.M.s at City can participate in Start-Ed, a legal clinic that offers free advice to startups and entrepreneurs.

In 2014, QMUL launched a similar clinic, called qLegal, where LL.M.s can give legal advice to local startups and entrepreneurs. According to Patrick Cahill, the center’s manager, qLegal appeals to students who want to gain experience at the intersection of law and technology.

“Technology is progressing so quickly that the law isn't catching up, which creates lots of legal challenges that students can work on,” Cahill says.

Cahill says that experience in this space can go a long way, even for students who don’t necessarily want to open their own legal advice clinics or consulting firms. Even the bigger law firms need lawyers with experience in this sector.

Big Law firms “are giving out tons of advice to startups in the hopes that they're advising the next Facebook or the next LinkedIn,” Cahill says.

Staying in London after the LL.M.

After experiencing London’s vibrancy and opportunities, some students doing their LL.M.s in the city might be tempted to stay after graduation to work.

“The ones that really want to stay, most of them actually do,” says City University London’s David Collins. “But I'm not sure that a lot of them seek that out.”

Many LL.M.s, Collins says, are just in London to study and actually plan to go back to their home countries after they graduate.

Notre Dame’s Geoffrey Bennett would agree, and says that what many students are looking for instead is an exposure to the UK’s law system. “They're often, in my experience, people who have worked for a law firm,” Bennett says, “and what they want is an injection of the Anglo-American system, because obviously so much commerce is based on Anglo-American law.”

But even for LL.M.s who do want to go back to their home countries, London has a lot to offer. Because many law firms have headquarters in the city, students can still network with the end goal of going home (or elsewhere.)

“Certainly students do transfer from one country to another,” says QMUL’s Pippa Heath. 

“But because these are international firms, students don’t have to be UK-focused.”

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-programs-in-london-studying-law-in-a-legal-capital Tue, 22 Dec 2015 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[The Wide World of Sports LL.M.s]]> Doping scandals. Disputes over Olympic sports. Transgender issues. 

Lawyers who work in sports law can and will deal with any of these headline-worthy issues and more. 

"In many ways sports is a microcosm of society," says Matt Mitten, law professor and director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University. "Take Bruce Jenner [now Caitlyn Jenner]. What if she wanted to participate in the Olympics now? We’ve traditionally said we’ve got male, female competition. There’s just a whole host of interesting issues out there," 

Marquette is one of a handful of schools in the United States that offers students the opportunity to explore these issues in the classroom through a sports law LL.M.  St. John's University in New York also offers an LL.M. in international sports law practice, while Arizona State University offers a business and law degree. In Europe, ISDE in Madrid, the University of Zurich, the University of London and Nottingham Trent University all offer sports law specializations. 

These programs cater to students who want to pursue a career in the wide-ranging world of sports. A sports law LL.M. might sound niche, but the industry is bound up in so many different aspects of law, from labor law to tax law to media law.

"It's so broad. It’s such a big industry. Virtually every area of law impacts the sports industry these days," Mitten says. 

To explore the industry's diversity, look no further than the career paths of the students who graduate from sports law LL.M.s. Mitten says he's graduated a student from Japan who returned home to look for a job at a Japanese sports arbitration organization, as well as the daughter of an NHL player who hopes to work for a law firm with sports clients and perhaps someday for the NHL itself.

Iciar Murillo Cruz, associate director of St. John's sports LL.M., says one of her students works for the Football Association of Ireland, while another works as legal counsel for the Russian Football Union. Alfredo Ruiz, academic coordinator at ISDE, said a student from Kenya joined the International Tennis Table Federation in Switzerland. 

At these programs, students study the tough questions affecting the sports world today. For example, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in July 2015 that testosterone levels are an insufficient measure of whether an athlete should compete in women's or men's competitions, a decision that followed a challenge from an Indian sprinter who was barred from a competition in 2014 after her hyperandrogenism left her with higher levels of testosterone than considered legal for female athletes. 

Of course, although sports lawyers must be prepared for a variety of different legal challenges, these different programs focus on different regions. Marquette's program, which is only available to international students, is particularly suited to Canadians, who want to gain a perspective on American sports due to the baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer leagues that encompass both American and Canadian teams.

St. John's program focuses on comparative law, says Iciar Murillo Cruz, which allows students to explore legal systems and issues pertinent to the EU and North America.  ISDE and other European programs, on the other hand, tend to attract EU-centric students. 

Why are there so few sports LL.M.s?

With so many different potential legal aspects for students to explore, why don't more schools offer sports law LL.M.s? Officials say that although sports law encompasses so many different areas of law, it's an incredibly niche topic for a school to invest time and resources in. 

"We spend a lot of money creating classes," Cruz says. "It’s risky, because it’s very specific, and not every law school is willing to take that risk."

It's also a risky field for students. Officials caution potential sports lawyers that this is a tight market. 

"It’s a very competitive field to break into. What if you’re coming out of law school, you just have that and nothing else? That’s even harder," Marquette’s Matt Mitten says. "Most people just have to be a good lawyer, just have to get lucky on it. It’s not like, hey, you get a sports LL.M. and you got a job."

Breaking into the market often requires a substantial amount of hustling and low-paid work to find a stable job. 

"Everyone wants the big thing, but to get there, most of those people start doing internships at a law firm doing arbitration and sports, or doing an internship in USA Track and Field," Cruz says. "You have to take the opportunities you have to do freelance, or work pro bono for a smaller association. You can kind of develop clientele and expertise, but can’t become the general counsel of the MBA right away."

But there's good news. The breadth of a sports law education is often transferrable to other fields, so if students are unable to snag one of those coveted positions working for the big leagues, they can seek work in other legal arenas. 

"Let’s say someone wants to go back to their home country," Mitten says. "They may want to do sports law, but if that opportunity isn't there, there are so many areas of sports law that we cover. You’d have a really good knowledge of intellectual property law, labor law, contract and tort, because there’s very little sports-specific law."

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/the-wide-world-of-sports-llm-s Tue, 01 Dec 2015 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Two-Year LL.M.s: Taking the Time for Legal English]]> Parin Suwannachote's father owns a successful real estate company in Thailand. But when Suwannachote's father recently received a contract in English, he ran into trouble trying to translate and understand it. 

"He didn't have any kind of English proficiency. He didn't graduate from abroad, so he didn't have that power to understand clearly," says Suwannachote. "My father's company is just a small company, so it's not that easy to hire somebody to take care of all of the documents."

At the time, Suwannachote was a lawyer at a boutique real estate firm in Thailand. But his father's dilemma was one of the main reasons he decided to move to the United States and enroll at Georgetown University, one of a growing number of two-year LL.M. programs designed specifically for foreign students.

The LL.M. is traditionally a one-year degree, which actually lasts closer to nine or ten months when you factor in summer break. But an increasing number of schools are offering a two-year LL.M. program targeted at foreign students like Suwannachote who want the time to grasp legal English, experience a common law system, and understand American culture, on top of a legal education. 

These programs typically focus on legal English and academic skills in the first year, along with a limited number of law classes, then introduce students to the full range of LL.M. courses in the second year of study. 

Two-year LL.M.s cater to lawyers who are entering an increasingly international work force where they must know English and understand foreign legal systems in order to compete and survive. 

"Legal practice has become extraordinarily global and complex,” says Nan Hunter, associate dean for graduate programs at Georgetown University Law Center, “and in order to engage in that you have to be able to speak English well enough to collaborate with American or British lawyers, or to be on the opposite side from American or British lawyers. You have to be able to participate in that system.”

"If your aspiration is to have a transnational practice, you simply have to be adept in legal English."

The University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law is the latest school to announce that it will roll out one of these two-year programs, starting in fall 2016. Deborah Call, associate dean of USC's graduate and international programs, says that USC decided to pioneer this new program after examining areas of unmet student demand. 

"Our LL.M. programs have been in existence for 14 years and every year we have students, particularly sponsored students, who have said to us that they would have really enjoyed the opportunity to spend two years at USC," Call says. 

Call says that USC's decision was also influenced by the fact that its peer schools, such as Boston University, Georgetown University and Washington University in St. Louis, all offer similar programs. She says the target audience for this program will be students who have been sponsored by their home countries' governments to study law internationally. These students tend to come from countries such as Korea and Japan and regions such as the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Tiffany Bennett, adjunct professor of legal writing at Penn State Law, is the coordinator of a new two-year LL.M. program at that school, which rolled out in fall 2015. Bennett says that these kinds of programs are ideal for students who need to improve their English skills. 

"I think that there's a gap that needs to be filled between students that study in traditional intensive English programs where they get the English skills they need but not the legal English skills they need," Bennett says.

"Two-year programs help bridge the gap."

At Georgetown, which is home to the first two-year LL.M. program in the country, students often attend the two-year LL.M. program because their TOEFL scores aren't up to snuff, says Hunter. She adds that the program also attracts students who have satisfactory TOEFL scores, but want to improve their legal English.

But these programs aren't just about improving English. They also help students develop skills in American academic settings, and acquaint students with a common law system. 

According to USC’s Deborah Call, "The program will have coursework in academic skills, scholarly writing skills, and transactional practice skills. It will also focus on common law analysis and skills because many students from the various countries that we choose to draw from are civil law-trained students and lawyers, and we want to equip them with knowledge and information about common law system."

Parin Suwannachote says that having the space and time to learn the conventions of the American education system has been invaluable. For example, in Thailand, professors don't cold-call their students in class, so Suwannachote had to acclimate to the custom of professors putting their students on the spot in American law schools. 

"[The two-year LL.M.] gives you more opportunity to explore the culture, not academically, but also real culture, social culture. It doesn't just limit you to inside of the library. You have a chance to go out and meet real people, travel and maybe get some kind of new spin that you're not going to get from inside the classroom," says Suwannachote, who plans to return to Thailand and help his father after he finishes his degree. "That's the biggest advantage."

Taking the bar

But can foreign students with an LL.M.—even a two-year LL.M.—sit the American bar exam? Most states require an American JD before a student is eligible to take the bar. Some states, including New York and California, do allow foreign students to sit the bar, but they must undergo a lengthy review process by the American Bar Association. 

However, officials at the schools that offer two-year LL.M. programs say that most of their students don't pursue these degrees with the intention of staying and working in the US. 

"I think they already have a good idea of what they want to do. They return to their own country and are involved in their own legal system in some way, and the American LL.M. program helps enhance their career at home," Bennett says.

"We have lots of students who want to communicate with English-speaking attorneys and work in international law environments."

Penn State’s Tiffany Bennett adds that some of her students take the bar, but for most, it's not their main goal. 

At Georgetown, about half of the two-year LL.M. students take the bar, but Hunter says that many of her students aspire to return to their native countries armed with the skills and expertise they developed during their two years in the US. 

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/two-year-llms-taking-the-time-for-legal-english- Tue, 10 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Using an LL.M. to Make the Jump to Big Law]]> Elina Aleynikova, a lawyer who used an LL.M. to jumpstart her international career. Credit: White & Case.

Once upon a time, Elina Aleynikova was living in her home country Russia, working as a lawyer at a company but not gaining any experience with international law. 

Now, Aleynikova is an associate at international law firm White & Case in Paris, working in the International Arbitration Group specializing in commercial construction arbitration. 

For Aleynikova, the launch of her new international legal career started when she moved to the United States to pursue an LL.M. at the University of Pittsburgh. 

"The LL.M. is a good start for a career, for anyone who wants to go abroad and do something else and not stay in his home country and do domestic law," says Aleynikova.

"It helped me to get the knowledge that I didn't have before, and personally I enjoyed the experience in Pittsburgh.”

Aleynikova says she had to return to Russia for three years after she finished her LL.M. in the US, but that the degree helped her with her job search in Russia during that time. In Russia, she advised an infrastructure corporation on an international logistics project. After deciding that earning an American J.D. would make her a more competitive candidate in the international legal field, she pursued her J.D. at the University of Pittsburgh and assumed her position at White & Case.

Infographic: How many Big Law associates and partners have LL.M.s?

White & Case is a coveted landing spot for lawyers who want to build an international career. The firm, which runs offices in 40 cities all over the world, has a storied international history. It was founded in Manhattan in 1901 and it boasts involvement with many major international historical events of the 20th century. The firm acted as retainer for J.P. Morgan to help France and Great Britain purchase war materials in the US during World War I. It represented the sellers of the Empire State Building in 1951. It represented Indonesia when that country was resolving its debt crisis in the 1970s. It expanded to Moscow, Warsaw and Prague in the 1990s to advise those countries on mass privatization in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

And many of the lawyers who work at the firm hold LL.M. degrees. Of the lawyers working in the firm’s offices outside the United States and United Kingdom, 41 percent have LL.M.s, according to data gathered by LLM Guide. The largest number of these LL.M. graduates hail from the University of Warsaw, the University of Stockholm, New York University School of Law, Columbia Law School, and the Prague-based Charles University. 

Aleynikova is in good company in Paris: the firm's office there boasts the highest concentration of LL.M.s, with 61 out of approximately 160 working in the office. The other offices with a high concentration of LL.M.s are located in Warsaw, Stockholm, Frankfurt and Prague. 

She's also in good company with her arbitration specialization. Litigation and Arbitration is one of the most common fields for White & Case graduates with an LL.M., with Corporate Law, Banking and Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions and Capital Markets rounding out the rest of the top five. 

Working in Big Law

So what is Aleynikova's life now that she's living the ambitious lawyer's dream of working in international Big Law? Aleynikova describes her workload as intense, saying that she often has to stay late working on cases. But sometimes she catches a break after she submits important documents for a case. 

"So you submit, for example, something to the tribunal, and then you wait for a response, and in that period you might have less work," Aleynikova says. 

Elina Aleynikova

White & Case's Paris office specializes in construction and oil and gas arbitration, while Aleynikova specializes specifically in commercial construction arbitration--but she says that that specialization doesn't limit her future career options. 

"The fact that I'm working on commercial cases doesn't mean that I wouldn't be able to work on investment cases in the future. We don't have specialty within the firm. At some firms, lawyers specialize in certain things, [but not at White & Case]," Aleynikova says. 

Aleynikova says she didn't pursue an official specialization during her LL.M., but she chose classes tailored to her interests, in her case international commercial law, trade conflict, arbitration and dispute resolution. 

She adds that if she could give future or current LL.M. students any advice about how to end up in her position, she would tell them not to spend all their time studying.

"Go to networking and events. I know many students come from Eastern European countries, from Asian cultures, where there is not such a big culture of networking. But it's very important not to underestimate the power of networking. That's how they will find a job," Aleynikova says. 

She says that networking will help students find a post-graduation job, as well as helping them find an internship, another essential career-booster. 


Photo courtesy White & Case

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/using-an-llm-to-make-the-jump-to-big-law Wed, 04 Nov 2015 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[LL.M.s in Australia: Where East Meets West]]> It's no secret that professionals of all kinds, including lawyers, from Europe and the Americas increasingly need to know more about Asia. After all, with booming emerging economies like India's and China's contributing to an ever-more-globalized world, the ties between different continents are only growing stronger.

But of course, moving to a country like India, China or Japan to study law poses a set of unique challenges, not the least of which are language and cultural differences.

That's where Australia comes in.

“We're the gateway between the east and the west in many regards,” says Cameron Stewart, a professor at Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney. “[In Australia,] you can experience a mixture of eastern and western culture in study.”

Stewart and other Australian law professors say that their programs hold an allure for students from all over the world who want to take advantage of that east-meets-west mentality. And Australian law schools are correspondingly eager to strengthen their ties to the rest of the Pacific Rim.

Brendan Edgeworth, professor and director of postgraduate studies at University of New South Wales law school, says his school is currently building a stronger connection with China. Particularly, according to Edgeworth, UNSW's LL.M. program offers a large number of courses that focus on Asian and Chinese law, as well an introduction to Chinese law that runs in Shanghai every year. Through that program, students can spend a month in Shanghai, pursuing coursework for two weeks and spending the rest of the time visiting local courts and law firms.

“We're very keen to engage with Asia and we've just appointed three academics who are Chinese, Mandarin speakers, who will introduce new courses related to China and Chinese business law in particular,” Edgeworth says.

Studying Australian law alongside Asian law also comes with a distinct practical advantage: developing expertise about two legal systems. Like the United States, the United Kingdom and parts of Canada, Australia operates under the common law legal system. But since Australia trades with civil law countries like Japan and China, lawyers and law schools in the land down under must examine and understand civil law systems as well. This means that LL.M. programs in Australia are often ideal for students interested in comparative law.

“Even the ones that focus on Australian domestic law still focus on other jurisdictions,” Stewart says.

“The study is completely non-parochial.”

Karolina Sibirzeff, a Swedish student with a British undergraduate degree, originally wanted to pursue her LL.M. in Australia because she wanted to continue her common law education. She didn't realize that Australia would be the perfect place for her to combine her interests in international criminal law with her interest in human rights.

"Australia is much more interested in human rights in southeast Asia, while Europe is very focused on the EU and the States," says Sibirzeff, who's currently studying at the University of Sydney. "It's not that they're more focused on human rights [in Australia], it's just a different area. Take the death penalty issue: in Europe you'd have to focus on death penalty in the States, but here it's focused on those issues in Indonesia and China."

Italian Paolo Lovato is another student who left Europe to pursue law studies at the University of Sydney--partly because he found that working in Italian law involved more and more interaction with people from Asia, and because an increasing number of Italian companies are moving to China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

But the allure of Australian law schools isn't only about cross-cultural study. It's also about the quantity and quality of the programs. There's no shortage of LL.M. programs in the land down under: Australia is home to 34 law schools, most of which have LL.M. programs-- including the “Big Eight” of top Australian universities, several of which rank among the top law schools in the world. In this year’s QS World University Rankings, the University of Melbourne ranked number eight, the University of Sydney ranked number 13, the University of New South Wales ranked number 15, and Australian National University ranked number 16.

Those high rankings and unique offerings translate to significant numbers of international students heading into Australia. Forty percent of the LL.M. students at the University of New South Wales hail from other countries, and half of students at the University of Sydney come from all the other continents to study in Australia.

Taking a break in the southern hemisphere

Besides its unique geographical position, Australia offers cultural opportunities that sets it apart from the rest of the English-speaking world. Australia has a reputation for its laidback lifestyle, year-round sunshine, beaches and unique interior landscape—a sort of British-influenced California.

And the cost of living doesn't hurt either. The Australian dollar is down right now, making the country an affordable place to live and study. To sweeten the deal, international students are often drawn by the multicultural nature of cities like Melbourne or Sydney, says Edgeworth.

“Wherever you are from in the world, you'll probably see some of your own culture in [Melbourne or Sydney]. The cities are like melting pots. They're very open to international visitors,” Edgeworth says. “[Students] don't feel completely alien in Melbourne or Sydney.”

The unique culture in Australia translates to another advantage for international LL.M. students: the opportunity to pursue an unusual specialization. For example, several universities, including the University of Sydney, offer courses in indigenous peoples law, while the University of Queensland, located in the port city of Brisbane, offers courses in maritime law.

Of course, Australia's unique culture and geographical position comes with a downside: the country's isolation from Europe and the United States.

"If you live in the States or the EU and move here, it's kind of a big step," Sibirzeff says. "It's hard to keep in touch with people because of the time difference."

But what about work?

Although Australia has plenty to offer students in terms of specialization opportunities and connections to other legal systems, international and domestic students should be aware that there is one huge disadvantage to the country.

“It's the same situation as you'll find elsewhere: it's a tough market for work,” says Stewart.

Students from overseas might have an easier time finding jobs if they can leverage language skills.

“I think some of the international students have a little bit of an edge to a degree, particularly if they're looking for work in an international market,” Stewart says. “Particularly if you can speak another language, like a southeast Asian language or Chinese as well.”

Australian visa requirements are more lenient than requirements in other English-speaking countries. too. Students who spend two years pursuing degrees in Australia--for instance stacking an LL.M. degree with another master's degree--can apply for a two-year post-study work visa. However, students who only study for one year will need an employer to sponsor them before they can make arrangements to stay in Australia.


Image: "Sydney opera house 2010" by Jacques Grießmayer - Own work. (cropped) Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sydney_ope...

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llms-in-australia-where-east-meets-west Wed, 14 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[LL.M. Programs in Canada: Two Legal Systems, Affordably]]> Let’s get down to brass tacks: The University of Toronto’s LL.M. program is around half the cost of an LL.M. from Harvard.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that low cost means low quality. Canadian law schools like Toronto, McGill University, and Queen’s University may be affordable alternatives to their American counterparts but they are also world-class institutions offering robust LL.M. programs for both domestic and international students.

However, the low price isn't the only reasons students are drawn to these schools. Students come from all over the world to take advantage of Canada's international and welcoming cities, including Toronto, half of whose population was foreign-born in 2011, and Ottawa, the country's bilingual capital.

“There are so many people with English not being their first language,” says Ido Catri, an Israeli student at the University of Toronto who's interested in human rights, international law, sexual diversity, and how those three topics fit together. “No one's making a big deal about my accent. They have people from all over.”

Toronto, he adds, “has a more international perspective than other places in North America, which are more locally focused.”

Similarly, at the University of Ottawa, half of all LL.M. students come from Canada, while the rest come from countries all over the world, including Nigeria, China, India, France, England and various South American countries, says Assistant Dean Sochetra Nget.

Canada: Two legal systems; two languages

Nget and other officials say that these international students aren't drawn only by the fact that Canada is renowned all over the world as a friendly and welcoming place for immigrants. They also come to experience Canada's unique bijural heritage. Canada's national law is drawn mostly from the common law tradition, similar to the system used in the United Kingdom and the United States, but Quebec's legal system is based on a civil law system, similar to the system in France and other European countries. Most law schools focus on one system or the other, but at the University of Ottawa, students can study both.

“We have students who can take a course in the common law, or take a course in the civil law as well,” Nget says. “You can see the two jurisdictions. It's very unique in that sense.”

Mariana Mota Prado, associate dean at the University of Toronto's graduate law program, says another reason international students are drawn to Canada is that the Canadian legal system is much more analogous to many developing countries' systems than the American or British systems are. This is because the Canadian system evolved throughout the 20th century as the country gained complete judicial independence from the United Kingdom.

“For a number of people from developing countries, like myself, the experience that Canada has, we have a charter of rights that's much more recent than the constitution in the US or even the English legal system,” says Prado, who's originally from Brazil.

“That allows for a type of analysis that's much closer to the experience that they will be developing in their own home countries.”

Besides its bijural heritage, Canada is also the product of two linguistic traditions—French and English—which means that its schools present a wider range of options ot French speakers. The University of Ottawa is a bilingual institution, presenting its LL.M. courses in both French and English, and Quebec is home to several schools with bilingual programs, including McGill University, Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke. Students in Quebec will also find schools that instruct solely in French, including École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal and Université Laval in Quebec.

A friendlier immigration process but more red tape for lawyers practicing in Canada

Canada also offers something else that the United Kingdom and the United States don't offer: a friendlier immigration process.

“In general, Canada is just a very friendly country to immigration, so for the students who are not planning to go back to their home countries but would like to be living here in Canada, the LL.M. might be an interesting way of seeing how life is here, experience it a little bit and get a sense of the legal profession before they commit,” says Prado.

Canada offers a three-year work visa to students from other countries who want to start their careers in the land of hockey and maple leaves.

However, Michael Pratt, associate dean of the faculty of law at Queen's University, says he's not sure that Canada's work visa lures many law students.

“You need to go through an accreditation process to become lawyer in Canada,” Pratt says. “This is an important difference, because a foreigner doing an LL.M. in the US, if they immediately take the bar exam, they are immediately employable. In Canada it's a longer process, so the LLM doesn't translate into a title that's immediately marketable for foreign lawyers.”

“The red tape to practice law in this country is pretty intense.”

But for Ido Catri, that's not as much of a concern right now. He finished his LL.M. this spring, but in September, he's starting a doctorate program— at the University of Toronto. And he only has one thing to say about that.

“I'm so happy I'm staying,” he says.

Image: flag flap by David Wise / Flickr (cropped) - Creative Commons

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https://llm-guide.com/articles/llm-programs-in-canada-two-legal-systems-affordably Tue, 15 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0200