LL.M. experience at American University Washington College of Law (WCL)

LL.M. in International Legal Studies

By LLM Board - WCL on Feb 25, 2009

Dear readers,

Let me first start with introducing myself. My name is Onur Arslan and I am a Fulbright-scholar from the Netherlands who is currently enrolled in the LL.M. in International Legal Studies program at the American University Washington  College of Law (“WCL”).

I know how hard it is to choose an LL.M. program since there are so many opportunities. Since I personally enjoyed getting information first hand from alumni, I started this blog to give you guys more information about my experience at WCL. I am the president of the LL.M. Executive Board (“LL.M. Board”) and together with my fellow board members we will maintain this blog.

I started with the program during the fall semester. We started with approximately 100 students from all around the world and with different backgrounds. Some have been experienced lawyers or prosecutors while others just recently graduated.

During orientation we got informed about the law school and had the opportunity to get to know each other during a barbecue that was organized by the dean. The LL.M. Board organized a welcome diner and party later that week to make us feel at home. During those events we also got to know the LL.M. students who started during the spring semester.

During the add/drop period we had the opportunity to audit the courses we are interested in and to make sure we elect the courses we like most. Since I am interested in international business law I chose International Business Transactions, U.S. Business Law and International Financial Law & Development Finance. I also chose American Legal Institutions because that course is mandatory for students with a civil law background. The courses were very interesting and interactive. For example, for U.S. Business Law we had to draft a business plan and for Financial Law & Development Finance we practiced our negotiation skills during a negotiation simulation exercise.

The Office of Career & Professional Development organized a conference for us at the Washington DC office of Arnold & Porter LLP to prepare us for life as an LL.M. student. Also, we went to the Washington DC office of White & Case LLP where we got information about their Latin American practice group.

The first semester we had too many activities to mention in this blog. Amongst other things we had a soccer tournament, an embassy reception, a graduation party for graduating students, a potluck diner and a trip to the United Nations in New York. Another event that I think is worth mentioning is the LL.M. Board election. Every semester the LL.M. students elect a new LL.M. Board. This semester there were two teams competing to be the next LL.M. Board which was quite fun because it was at the same time as the U.S. presidential elections. Both teams were campaigning and we even had an official “presidential” debate. In November it was time to vote and after weeks of intense lobbying and campaigning we were delighted when we got the news that we got elected!

Spring semester:

When I came back from the winter break I attended the inauguration of President Obama. When you study in Washington D.C. you really realize what an amazing city it is. It often reminds me of stories about Rome during the higlights of the Roman Empire. Anyway, before I could recover from the cold and my jetlag I rushed myself to New York to attend the International Student Interview Program (“ISIP”). I had 11 interviews and was quite nervous. Luckily many WCL students were there so we had the opportunity to socialize and relax a bit before the interviews started. 

After returning from New York it was our duty as the new LL.M. Board to organize a welcome event for the incoming LL.M. students (It is possible to start the LL.M. program during the fall and spring semester). We decided to organize a welcome dinner at a Mexican restaurant and went to a club afterwards. This way the old students had the chance to meet the new students and the new students had the chance to get to know each other as well. The week thereafter we rented a bus and organized a ski-trip to Whitetails ski-resort in Pennsylvania. For many students this was the first time they saw snow or that they skied. We even had a mini après-ski at a restaurant to talk about our ski-experience. All in all it was a great day and I enjoyed every minute of it.

During this semester I am attending the following courses; International Banking Law, International Project Finance and International Regulation of Securities Markets. I know that this might sound boring to many of you but I think it is great! There are many courses to choose from and as an LL.M. student you can choose to specialize in for example human rights law, international trade law, environmental law or intellectual property law. I don’t have any experience with those courses so I leave the comments for those courses to my fellow students.

Anyway, I think I have given you a bit of an idea how life as an LL.M. student is at WCL. I know that I forgot to mention many things but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me.

Kind regards,

Onur Arslan

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