What do European LLM Programs Think of "Average" American Applicants?


AlexIL

What area of law are you interested in MM? Are you more interested in something practical or a rigorous academia and research type course? I think that can play a large part in steering you toward different universities/countries.

What area of law are you interested in MM? Are you more interested in something practical or a rigorous academia and research type course? I think that can play a large part in steering you toward different universities/countries.
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Iowa

I don't think the "what are my chances" sort of questions are annoying. The problem JDs face when applying for LLMs in other countries is lack of information. When we applied for our JD programs, we had a lot of information available---multiply the GPA by the LSAT, and you'd have a fairly good idea where you could go based on LSAC's widely pubished statistics. But the LLM is a whole different ballgame. I think it's great when JDs who are apply to LLMs overseas tell us how it went for them and how they think we might do based on the information we are comfortable supplying. The more information sharing the better.

I don't think the "what are my chances" sort of questions are annoying. The problem JDs face when applying for LLMs in other countries is lack of information. When we applied for our JD programs, we had a lot of information available---multiply the GPA by the LSAT, and you'd have a fairly good idea where you could go based on LSAC's widely pubished statistics. But the LLM is a whole different ballgame. I think it's great when JDs who are apply to LLMs overseas tell us how it went for them and how they think we might do based on the information we are comfortable supplying. The more information sharing the better.
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Well, I'm comfortable with both the academic and practical-minded programs. What's more important to me is that my program will be recognized where I live (not in a snobby, uppity way, but just that I graduate from a legitimate and challenging program) and that the country that I study in is safe, comfortable and friendly towards my wife and I. Again, based on where we'd like to go I have narrowed it down to the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and France.

They thing about wanting to know if I'd get in or not, besides the obvious excited curiosity, is that the applications as you all well know is expensive and time-consuming. If I can limit my applications to my top 7 schools, that's what I'll do, where if my acceptance is iffy then I'd apply to 10 - 15.

You guys are great, thanks for all the info!

Well, I'm comfortable with both the academic and practical-minded programs. What's more important to me is that my program will be recognized where I live (not in a snobby, uppity way, but just that I graduate from a legitimate and challenging program) and that the country that I study in is safe, comfortable and friendly towards my wife and I. Again, based on where we'd like to go I have narrowed it down to the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and France.

They thing about wanting to know if I'd get in or not, besides the obvious excited curiosity, is that the applications as you all well know is expensive and time-consuming. If I can limit my applications to my top 7 schools, that's what I'll do, where if my acceptance is iffy then I'd apply to 10 - 15.

You guys are great, thanks for all the info!
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Iowa

I would think UK programs would be the most recognized in the USA (even apart from Oxbridge).

I would think UK programs would be the most recognized in the USA (even apart from Oxbridge).
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Thanks Matches et al.

As for me, I'm a fairly experienced environmental lawyer in the US, and am interested in expanding into the area of international environmental law. I'd love to work in Europe for at least a little while, ideally in an international organization, but after that, who knows? I would likely want to return to the US and work here.

Believe me, I love the idea of education for education's sake, but unless someone volunteers to pay my tuition and rent and buy my groceries, it really isn't an option for me. I would love to move to Europe and study (for the academic and life experience), and that is a big part of why I am looking into this, but I also want to find out if it would make sense for my career. As Iowa mentioned, there is really very little information out there. I think that most employers in the States value work experience over LLMs, and a J.D. and publications are all that is needed to teach at law schools here. Part of my thought process is that it would benefit me to move abroad (professionally and personally) because I have no international experience and do not speak any other languages. Hopefully, I could learn a lot about international law, make some good friends and connections, and pick up a foreign language. But, if this idea is nuts, and I should really just continue to work and keep my eye out for international vacancies, I would like to find that out before I quit my job and write a big check! Really, I hope my idea isn't nuts - I think it would be quite a fun year!

Thanks Matches et al.

As for me, I'm a fairly experienced environmental lawyer in the US, and am interested in expanding into the area of international environmental law. I'd love to work in Europe for at least a little while, ideally in an international organization, but after that, who knows? I would likely want to return to the US and work here.

Believe me, I love the idea of education for education's sake, but unless someone volunteers to pay my tuition and rent and buy my groceries, it really isn't an option for me. I would love to move to Europe and study (for the academic and life experience), and that is a big part of why I am looking into this, but I also want to find out if it would make sense for my career. As Iowa mentioned, there is really very little information out there. I think that most employers in the States value work experience over LLMs, and a J.D. and publications are all that is needed to teach at law schools here. Part of my thought process is that it would benefit me to move abroad (professionally and personally) because I have no international experience and do not speak any other languages. Hopefully, I could learn a lot about international law, make some good friends and connections, and pick up a foreign language. But, if this idea is nuts, and I should really just continue to work and keep my eye out for international vacancies, I would like to find that out before I quit my job and write a big check! Really, I hope my idea isn't nuts - I think it would be quite a fun year!
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AlexIL

Hey guys,

***Intwannabe: Let me preface this by saying, I know absolutely nothing about how any of these programs would be viewed in the US, except as Iowa said, that UK degrees seem to be valued. However, I wouldn't go to the UK unless it was to one of the top universities - it is not really at the exotic end of international experience and neither is it at the cheaper end. You're sort of going out there, but not quite. I understand that there's calculation and prediction involved here - but you only live once.

Another decision would probably be between going straight to an International Environmental Law course or going for a Public International Law course & looking for electives. You sound like you're really looking for International Environmental Law.

Really, you should look for a place that not only has a great reputation but is evocative in terms of the environment in particular - like International and Environmental Law at the University of Iceland, or Energy and Environmental Law at Leuven. The University of Oslo Public International Law program lets you specialise in Environmental Law.

***MM: You seem to have narrowed it down really well. It's not hard to figure out the top universities/programs in these countries - looking through a few rankings and discussion threads. Good luck!

Hey guys,

***Intwannabe: Let me preface this by saying, I know absolutely nothing about how any of these programs would be viewed in the US, except as Iowa said, that UK degrees seem to be valued. However, I wouldn't go to the UK unless it was to one of the top universities - it is not really at the exotic end of international experience and neither is it at the cheaper end. You're sort of going out there, but not quite. I understand that there's calculation and prediction involved here - but you only live once.

Another decision would probably be between going straight to an International Environmental Law course or going for a Public International Law course & looking for electives. You sound like you're really looking for International Environmental Law.

Really, you should look for a place that not only has a great reputation but is evocative in terms of the environment in particular - like International and Environmental Law at the University of Iceland, or Energy and Environmental Law at Leuven. The University of Oslo Public International Law program lets you specialise in Environmental Law.

***MM: You seem to have narrowed it down really well. It's not hard to figure out the top universities/programs in these countries - looking through a few rankings and discussion threads. Good luck!
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Theoretically, if I got my LLM from one of these schools and wanted to stay and live and work in that community, is that possible? Or, do we have to ship up and ship out after graduation?

Theoretically, if I got my LLM from one of these schools and wanted to stay and live and work in that community, is that possible? Or, do we have to ship up and ship out after graduation?
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AlexIL

Do you have an EU passport, or a parent from Europe so you can try get your hands on one? If not, I guess it's a matter of researching the working visa requirements.

By the way, what made you rule out Denmark and Germany?

Do you have an EU passport, or a parent from Europe so you can try get your hands on one? If not, I guess it's a matter of researching the working visa requirements.

By the way, what made you rule out Denmark and Germany?
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Well, I ruled out Denmark because Copenhagen was a 2 year program, and I was told that there were very few quality programs in English that were not overly expensive in Germany... was I misinformed? Can you suggest any schools there? Thanks!

Well, I ruled out Denmark because Copenhagen was a 2 year program, and I was told that there were very few quality programs in English that were not overly expensive in Germany... was I misinformed? Can you suggest any schools there? Thanks!
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AlexIL

Hey, yes there are huge variations in price in Germany (I've come across everything from $0 to $40,000) and a lot of universities (which are quite difficult to rate - apparently because quality's tightly controlled and they're all pretty good). Still, if you're paying for the course anyway, it can't hurt to have a look at least at the courses going for similar prices or less.

As you can see, I don't have much advice beyond motivation letters, Sweden and the Netherlands, but hopefully there are other people reading this thread who have suggestions.

Al

Hey, yes there are huge variations in price in Germany (I've come across everything from $0 to $40,000) and a lot of universities (which are quite difficult to rate - apparently because quality's tightly controlled and they're all pretty good). Still, if you're paying for the course anyway, it can't hurt to have a look at least at the courses going for similar prices or less.

As you can see, I don't have much advice beyond motivation letters, Sweden and the Netherlands, but hopefully there are other people reading this thread who have suggestions.

Al
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Thanks, Al! By the way, what do you think of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam? I've recently become very interested in this school. Thoughts?

Thanks, Al! By the way, what do you think of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam? I've recently become very interested in this school. Thoughts?

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AlexIL

Hey MM. VU Amsterdam is a strange case. It's rating isn't great - it's well outside the top 100 and isn't better rated in any single subject area. Yet, people seem really enthusiastic about the place. A Dutch friend of mine who's from Amsterdam said it was just about as well respected as the Uni of Amsterdam (well within the top 100) locally, and others on this forum have talked about its location and business/professional contacts. cf. a place like Maastricht which has a better rating than VU and yet no one raves about the place, including my local friend. [Keeping in mind my friend studied IT, not law, so this info isn't right on the money for us.]

My personal rating for the Netherlands, which is a combination of reading about the courses, ratings and talking to people would be:
1 - 5: Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam
6 - 7 (not very well rated but stand-outs in particular areas): Erasmus Rotterdam, Tilburg
8 & onwards: Maastricht, Nijmegen etc

That said, I think that rating would move around a bit with the area of law you're after & what you think of the content.

Al

Hey MM. VU Amsterdam is a strange case. It's rating isn't great - it's well outside the top 100 and isn't better rated in any single subject area. Yet, people seem really enthusiastic about the place. A Dutch friend of mine who's from Amsterdam said it was just about as well respected as the Uni of Amsterdam (well within the top 100) locally, and others on this forum have talked about its location and business/professional contacts. cf. a place like Maastricht which has a better rating than VU and yet no one raves about the place, including my local friend. [Keeping in mind my friend studied IT, not law, so this info isn't right on the money for us.]

My personal rating for the Netherlands, which is a combination of reading about the courses, ratings and talking to people would be:
1 - 5: Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam
6 - 7 (not very well rated but stand-outs in particular areas): Erasmus Rotterdam, Tilburg
8 & onwards: Maastricht, Nijmegen etc

That said, I think that rating would move around a bit with the area of law you're after & what you think of the content.

Al
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Alex, great info; thanks for that!

I was told that there are some schools in Germany that offer free tuition, but I have not been able to find out what schools those are or if their programs are offered in English. Do you know? Thanks agin!

Alex, great info; thanks for that!

I was told that there are some schools in Germany that offer free tuition, but I have not been able to find out what schools those are or if their programs are offered in English. Do you know? Thanks agin!
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AlexIL

Hey MM... I was thinking of applying for International Relations/European Studies/Public Administration type MAs if I didn't get into a LLM, so the free ones I remember were MAs at Jacobs Bremen (usually very expensive, but there's the one free program) and Frije Universitat Berlin.

I do also remember seeing a few where you just had to pay the student union fee of around 200 - 500 euro. I used the search engine here: http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/06005.en.html

I'm also assuming you've already found www.studyinsweden.se

Al

Hey MM... I was thinking of applying for International Relations/European Studies/Public Administration type MAs if I didn't get into a LLM, so the free ones I remember were MAs at Jacobs Bremen (usually very expensive, but there's the one free program) and Frije Universitat Berlin.

I do also remember seeing a few where you just had to pay the student union fee of around 200 - 500 euro. I used the search engine here: http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/06005.en.html

I'm also assuming you've already found www.studyinsweden.se

Al
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Thanks man, I'll check it out!

To Al and others, how "hard" is it to get into Leiden? What percent of applicants do they accept? Based on my resume (listed elsewhere in this thread), what are my chances?

Thanks man, I'll check it out!

To Al and others, how "hard" is it to get into Leiden? What percent of applicants do they accept? Based on my resume (listed elsewhere in this thread), what are my chances?
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AlexIL

I think it's worth giving Leiden a go & the application fee shouldn't scare you, especially if you're going for the PIL or EU Law (I'm not sure how much more competitive the Adv. LLMs are). Not sure If you've had a look at the online application process (here: http://koala.leidenuniv.nl/iooa/oa/Index.php), but they specifically ask for your CV (a few programs out there don't, which makes me think they rely much more on transcripts than on demonstrated commitment) & they also have an additional step where you are able to upload up to 5 additional documents which you think strengthen your application + a description of why you're uploading them. For me, this gives you free reign to show your strengths & also makes me feel like they'll take the time to consider you as an individual.

(I think the application fee in this sense is helpful rather than harmful - they probably receive fewer applications as people who aren't confident of their chances choose not to apply; they know you really want to be there; they can afford to take the time to consider your application thoroughly; & they will take the time to contact you & have you add any documents they think are missing before just rejecting an application. You won't find the same with Sweden, where the application & education is free, there are hundreds of thousands of applications & no one gets more than a glance.)

I think it's worth giving Leiden a go & the application fee shouldn't scare you, especially if you're going for the PIL or EU Law (I'm not sure how much more competitive the Adv. LLMs are). Not sure If you've had a look at the online application process (here: http://koala.leidenuniv.nl/iooa/oa/Index.php), but they specifically ask for your CV (a few programs out there don't, which makes me think they rely much more on transcripts than on demonstrated commitment) & they also have an additional step where you are able to upload up to 5 additional documents which you think strengthen your application + a description of why you're uploading them. For me, this gives you free reign to show your strengths & also makes me feel like they'll take the time to consider you as an individual.

(I think the application fee in this sense is helpful rather than harmful - they probably receive fewer applications as people who aren't confident of their chances choose not to apply; they know you really want to be there; they can afford to take the time to consider your application thoroughly; & they will take the time to contact you & have you add any documents they think are missing before just rejecting an application. You won't find the same with Sweden, where the application & education is free, there are hundreds of thousands of applications & no one gets more than a glance.)
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Thanks, Al! You are a wealth of information. Now, here's a question for you...

Are these schools focused on only academic and business-like accomplishments, or should I inform them of some of my unique experiences that are completely unrelated to the law?

For example, after college and before getting my JD I worked for years as an actor, and did very well for myself. Would they see this as interesting and compelling, or as frivolous and lackadaisical? American law schools would value this some, and I made it a serious part of my application when applying for my JD. However, I can't get the German stereotype out of my head... (Business business, work work!).

What do you think?

Thanks, Al! You are a wealth of information. Now, here's a question for you...

Are these schools focused on only academic and business-like accomplishments, or should I inform them of some of my unique experiences that are completely unrelated to the law?

For example, after college and before getting my JD I worked for years as an actor, and did very well for myself. Would they see this as interesting and compelling, or as frivolous and lackadaisical? American law schools would value this some, and I made it a serious part of my application when applying for my JD. However, I can't get the German stereotype out of my head... (Business business, work work!).

What do you think?
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AlexIL

Hey, I don't think you should shy away from using it. Leaving out something big might not look obvious to you when you read over your CV/letter, but might really show through to the person reading it. The gap can end up as a lot of time unaccounted for or a gap where your personality should be. If (like me) you can't let your transcript speak for you, you've got to throw your strengths into the assessment.

I think the image of Northern Europeans as overly serious is not really accurate (especially a couple of beers down). What I would say about them culturally, is that they prefer a good argument presented in a measured way and with humility, over any sort of exaggeration, boasting or content unnecessary to support the argument. So, I think you can use anything at all but don't leave it to them to make the connections for you (of how what you've told them makes you a good candidate). The aim here is never to say "I did X" but to say "doing X has developed my attribute Y which makes me a good candidate for this program because..." ****How**** does X make me a good candidate?

It's also good to remember that they have a few letters to read and lot of them start with "Since I was a small child..." and go on to, chronologically, detail a lot of (sometimes overly personal) banality. Yes, they're interested in finding out about "you" but most of us are quite dull. You've got to find a way to mix it up a bit and make them feel like they couldn't have read the thing with their eyes closed. If you've got a personality, show it to them rather than telling them it's there. If you're passionate about something, make them passionate about it too and make them see how it captures your attention - just don't say "I am so passionate about Z".

Hope that helps,
Al

Hey, I don't think you should shy away from using it. Leaving out something big might not look obvious to you when you read over your CV/letter, but might really show through to the person reading it. The gap can end up as a lot of time unaccounted for or a gap where your personality should be. If (like me) you can't let your transcript speak for you, you've got to throw your strengths into the assessment.

I think the image of Northern Europeans as overly serious is not really accurate (especially a couple of beers down). What I would say about them culturally, is that they prefer a good argument presented in a measured way and with humility, over any sort of exaggeration, boasting or content unnecessary to support the argument. So, I think you can use anything at all but don't leave it to them to make the connections for you (of how what you've told them makes you a good candidate). The aim here is never to say "I did X" but to say "doing X has developed my attribute Y which makes me a good candidate for this program because..." ****How**** does X make me a good candidate?

It's also good to remember that they have a few letters to read and lot of them start with "Since I was a small child..." and go on to, chronologically, detail a lot of (sometimes overly personal) banality. Yes, they're interested in finding out about "you" but most of us are quite dull. You've got to find a way to mix it up a bit and make them feel like they couldn't have read the thing with their eyes closed. If you've got a personality, show it to them rather than telling them it's there. If you're passionate about something, make them passionate about it too and make them see how it captures your attention - just don't say "I am so passionate about Z".

Hope that helps,
Al
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Al, thanks for that great advice. Thanks, brother.

Al, thanks for that great advice. Thanks, brother.
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AlexIL

Sister. :)

Good luck with it.

Sister. :)

Good luck with it.
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