Chances of getting into HLS, YLS, Berkeley or Cornell


meche
Hello everyone.
I am a lawyer from a small country in Latinamerica, and I would like to have an idea of what my chances would be to get into HLS, YLS, Berkeley or Cornell (I haven´t ruled out any univesities yet, but those are my top choices).
I graduated from what is considered the number one LS in the country -though that is a generous statement since there are only 4 LSs in the country.
The program isn´t organized in credits, so I can´t calculate my GPA, but my grade average is 9 out of 12 and I´m probably in the top 10 graduates of my class (of about 600 students).
I have been working in a top law firm for three years and this year I got a TA possition at my university. I have presented a paper at a seminar and I won a competition to represent my school at a Latinamerican seminar. I am still working on getting that paper published, but so far I haven´t been published.
I count on a letter of recommendation from my boss (former professor of mine and the top professor at procedural law in the country) and the professor who is in charge of the class where I work as a TA (who is also very respected).
Any information you can provide will be very much appreciated!
From so far away everything feels out of reach and I feel very insecure.
Thanks in advance!
Hello everyone.
I am a lawyer from a small country in Latinamerica, and I would like to have an idea of what my chances would be to get into HLS, YLS, Berkeley or Cornell (I haven´t ruled out any univesities yet, but those are my top choices).
I graduated from what is considered the number one LS in the country -though that is a generous statement since there are only 4 LSs in the country.
The program isn´t organized in credits, so I can´t calculate my GPA, but my grade average is 9 out of 12 and I´m probably in the top 10 graduates of my class (of about 600 students).
I have been working in a top law firm for three years and this year I got a TA possition at my university. I have presented a paper at a seminar and I won a competition to represent my school at a Latinamerican seminar. I am still working on getting that paper published, but so far I haven´t been published.
I count on a letter of recommendation from my boss (former professor of mine and the top professor at procedural law in the country) and the professor who is in charge of the class where I work as a TA (who is also very respected).
Any information you can provide will be very much appreciated!
From so far away everything feels out of reach and I feel very insecure.
Thanks in advance!
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Hi meche,

You are welcome to contact our office for more information about the Berkeley Law LL.M. We can't estimate your chances of admission, but we can answer other questions for you and provide an overview of the admission process and the degree program.

You can reach us at +1 510-642-1476 or llm@law.berkeley.edu.
Hi meche,

You are welcome to contact our office for more information about the Berkeley Law LL.M. We can't estimate your chances of admission, but we can answer other questions for you and provide an overview of the admission process and the degree program.

You can reach us at +1 510-642-1476 or llm@law.berkeley.edu.
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meche
Thank you very much for your answer.
I will shortly contact your office for more information.
Best regards,
Mercedes
Thank you very much for your answer.
I will shortly contact your office for more information.
Best regards,
Mercedes
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Tristan
Can I ask why those four law schools in particular? Are you interested in a particular area of law? What about Columbia, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Georgetown, U of Michigan?

I can understand Berkeley; located in SF, close to Silicon Valley, ranked high overall, with an excellent reputation in international law, IP law, etc. Harvard and Yale are Harvard and Yale. Cornell, however, threw me off a tad. Do not get me wrong, it is a fantastic law school it is just that Ithaca, where it's located, is not the most exciting place in the US.
Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere, a tiny town in upstate NY, a place which is buried in snow eight months of the year, with a not a whole lot going on. Is there something particular about Cornell, other than just the name, that draws you there?

I think that international students, in particular, in addition to a school's prestige/reputation/curriculum, should really do their research about the school's location, and should give location a lot of weight when making a decision, in my opinion, as opposed to just shopping for the best name. First of all you will be living there for a year, so you should consider the weather, the setting, etc. Second, you may be interested in doing an internship/externship/work. A place like San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, DC will have a lot more to offer, in terms of opportunities, than a small town. For example, if you are interested in IP, schools like Stanford, Berkeley, George Washington would be the places to apply to, and not just because of their stellar reputation, but also because of their respective locations, Silicon Valley and Washington, DC (home of the US PTO, etc.).
Can I ask why those four law schools in particular? Are you interested in a particular area of law? What about Columbia, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Georgetown, U of Michigan?

I can understand Berkeley; located in SF, close to Silicon Valley, ranked high overall, with an excellent reputation in international law, IP law, etc. Harvard and Yale are Harvard and Yale. Cornell, however, threw me off a tad. Do not get me wrong, it is a fantastic law school it is just that Ithaca, where it's located, is not the most exciting place in the US.
Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere, a tiny town in upstate NY, a place which is buried in snow eight months of the year, with a not a whole lot going on. Is there something particular about Cornell, other than just the name, that draws you there?

I think that international students, in particular, in addition to a school's prestige/reputation/curriculum, should really do their research about the school's location, and should give location a lot of weight when making a decision, in my opinion, as opposed to just shopping for the best name. First of all you will be living there for a year, so you should consider the weather, the setting, etc. Second, you may be interested in doing an internship/externship/work. A place like San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, DC will have a lot more to offer, in terms of opportunities, than a small town. For example, if you are interested in IP, schools like Stanford, Berkeley, George Washington would be the places to apply to, and not just because of their stellar reputation, but also because of their respective locations, Silicon Valley and Washington, DC (home of the US PTO, etc.).
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meche
Hi Tristan
You make a very valid question.
I am interested -and looking into- all the schools that you mention, except maybe for Stanford because I am not sure if their program suits what I am looking for. To be honest, I didn´t mention all the options just to be brief.
My main area of interest is private law (contracts, torts, property law) and legal theory. -Bear in mind that since I am trained in civil law, the way I organize my interests may vary with how courses are normally structured in common law programs-.
The reason for my interest in Cornell is that I liked the program and I found a lot of courses that seemed interesting. Also for personal reasons, because my uncle got his PhD there and he had a great experience.
Based on what I´ve said, which program do you think would suit be best? I am open to suggestions. Thanks!
Hi Tristan
You make a very valid question.
I am interested -and looking into- all the schools that you mention, except maybe for Stanford because I am not sure if their program suits what I am looking for. To be honest, I didn´t mention all the options just to be brief.
My main area of interest is private law (contracts, torts, property law) and legal theory. -Bear in mind that since I am trained in civil law, the way I organize my interests may vary with how courses are normally structured in common law programs-.
The reason for my interest in Cornell is that I liked the program and I found a lot of courses that seemed interesting. Also for personal reasons, because my uncle got his PhD there and he had a great experience.
Based on what I´ve said, which program do you think would suit be best? I am open to suggestions. Thanks!
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Tristan
Honestly, since you are interested in more of a general LL.M., as opposed to a specialized one (i.e. international law, IP law, etc.) you should just aim for the top schools. If you were applying for a more specialized LL.M. I would encourage you to look at schools that may not be ranked as high overall but have a stellar reputation in a specialized area.

That being said, in addition to the reputation, do take location into account (as well as cost, both of the school and location). If you do not mind spending a year in a small town (My wife went to Cornell and although she got a great education she felt a bit isolated in Ithaca), go ahead and apply to Yale (albeit, I do not find New Haven to be a particularly nice town. At least Ithaca is nice and quaint and in a nice setting), Cornell, UVA, Michigan, Duke. Actually, I think Michigan and UVA sit in some of the prettiest college towns in the US.

If you would prefer a larger setting, I would shoot for Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Berkeley, Chicago, UPenn, Northwestern, UCLA, Georgetown, George Washington. The small college towns cannot compete with cities like New York, Washington, and San Francisco in terms of internship opportunities and social/cultural offerings. New York is New York. No other place like it in the world. A mosaic of neat and diverse neighborhoods, with a plethora of world class museums, restaurants (any cuisine imaginable), clubs, cultural institutions, music venues, etc. DC is an international city (home to many embassies/consulates), the seat of American government, with likewise a plethora of museums/galleries, cultural events, monuments, etc. It is what I would call a small big city, in that it it easy to walk/bike around because it has a relatively small city center (like a lot of European cities). Finally, because of all the universities, DC is a relatively young city (as is Boston, for the same reason). San Francisco is the same in that it offers a lot in terms of social/cultural happening, but it has a completely different atmosphere from NY/DC, in that it is a lot more relaxed. San Francisco is also close to the wine country, relatively close (a weekend trip) to incredible national parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, Lake Tahoe. I don't think you would have a terribly difficult time finding internships in any of these cities, given the abundance of law firms, corporations, NGOs, international orgs, govt orgs, etc. located in these respective cities.

Then you have Boston (Harvard), Philadelphia (UPenn), Los Angeles (UCLA), Chicago (Northwestern(technically in Evanston), U of Chicago), all big cities, with similar offerings/opportunities as NYC/DC/San Francisco, although perhaps not as much. Boston is a fun town. It is quite young, because it has something like 20 or so universities/colleges, although I personally do not find it as cosmopolitan as NYC and DC, maybe because it just does not seems as diverse/international. Chicago is also a really neat town, with a great history (like Boston, NY, Philadephia), great museums, good music scene (especially if you are into the blues), although U of Chicago is in a REALLY bad area. I live in Los Angeles. We have pretty nice weather, nice nature (great for hiking), great food, a nice international vibe. That being said, you will likely need a car to get around, which you would not need in Boston, NYC, DC, Chicago, San Francisco.

Anyway, I am getting a bit long winded. I think if you prefer to live/study for the year in a more cosmopolitan/larger city, I would first focus on Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, George Washington, Berkeley, Harvard. If you have the time (to complete applications) and don't mind spending $$ on extra applications, also consider UPenn, UCLA, Northwestern, UChicago. For small-town settings, I would consider Yale, Cornell, UVA, Michigan, Duke.
Honestly, since you are interested in more of a general LL.M., as opposed to a specialized one (i.e. international law, IP law, etc.) you should just aim for the top schools. If you were applying for a more specialized LL.M. I would encourage you to look at schools that may not be ranked as high overall but have a stellar reputation in a specialized area.

That being said, in addition to the reputation, do take location into account (as well as cost, both of the school and location). If you do not mind spending a year in a small town (My wife went to Cornell and although she got a great education she felt a bit isolated in Ithaca), go ahead and apply to Yale (albeit, I do not find New Haven to be a particularly nice town. At least Ithaca is nice and quaint and in a nice setting), Cornell, UVA, Michigan, Duke. Actually, I think Michigan and UVA sit in some of the prettiest college towns in the US.

If you would prefer a larger setting, I would shoot for Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Berkeley, Chicago, UPenn, Northwestern, UCLA, Georgetown, George Washington. The small college towns cannot compete with cities like New York, Washington, and San Francisco in terms of internship opportunities and social/cultural offerings. New York is New York. No other place like it in the world. A mosaic of neat and diverse neighborhoods, with a plethora of world class museums, restaurants (any cuisine imaginable), clubs, cultural institutions, music venues, etc. DC is an international city (home to many embassies/consulates), the seat of American government, with likewise a plethora of museums/galleries, cultural events, monuments, etc. It is what I would call a small big city, in that it it easy to walk/bike around because it has a relatively small city center (like a lot of European cities). Finally, because of all the universities, DC is a relatively young city (as is Boston, for the same reason). San Francisco is the same in that it offers a lot in terms of social/cultural happening, but it has a completely different atmosphere from NY/DC, in that it is a lot more relaxed. San Francisco is also close to the wine country, relatively close (a weekend trip) to incredible national parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, Lake Tahoe. I don't think you would have a terribly difficult time finding internships in any of these cities, given the abundance of law firms, corporations, NGOs, international orgs, govt orgs, etc. located in these respective cities.

Then you have Boston (Harvard), Philadelphia (UPenn), Los Angeles (UCLA), Chicago (Northwestern(technically in Evanston), U of Chicago), all big cities, with similar offerings/opportunities as NYC/DC/San Francisco, although perhaps not as much. Boston is a fun town. It is quite young, because it has something like 20 or so universities/colleges, although I personally do not find it as cosmopolitan as NYC and DC, maybe because it just does not seems as diverse/international. Chicago is also a really neat town, with a great history (like Boston, NY, Philadephia), great museums, good music scene (especially if you are into the blues), although U of Chicago is in a REALLY bad area. I live in Los Angeles. We have pretty nice weather, nice nature (great for hiking), great food, a nice international vibe. That being said, you will likely need a car to get around, which you would not need in Boston, NYC, DC, Chicago, San Francisco.

Anyway, I am getting a bit long winded. I think if you prefer to live/study for the year in a more cosmopolitan/larger city, I would first focus on Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, George Washington, Berkeley, Harvard. If you have the time (to complete applications) and don't mind spending $$ on extra applications, also consider UPenn, UCLA, Northwestern, UChicago. For small-town settings, I would consider Yale, Cornell, UVA, Michigan, Duke.
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meche
Thank you for your more than through reply! A lot of great info.
I hadn´t considered that factor yet and I think you are right on how important it is for the overall experience.
If you don´t mind my picking your brain some more, what do you think about my chances of getting into the programs we are discussing?
Thank you for your more than through reply! A lot of great info.
I hadn´t considered that factor yet and I think you are right on how important it is for the overall experience.
If you don´t mind my picking your brain some more, what do you think about my chances of getting into the programs we are discussing?
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Tristan
I think you have a solid chance to get at least into some of the programs. Sure, some programs are more competitive than others, simply because they get more applications, but, generally speaking, I do believe it is not as difficult to get admission to an LL.M. program than it is to a school's JD program. It is simple numbers. A school will get significantly more applications from US students for its JD program than from international students for an LL.M. Sure there are less spots in most LL.M. programs than there are in respective JD programs but the numbers still favor LL.M. applicants (Some JD programs get 10,000-15,000 applications for 400 spots). It all varies from year to year, based on the number of applicants, the quality of applicants, but you seem to have done well, have an interesting background, have good recommendations, so I do not see why you should not get into at least some of the programs mentioned. I went to a good program (will not say which one :)) and our student body was pretty diverse. It comprised of people from every corner of the world (we had students from about 40-50 countries), with very varied professional backgrounds, from judges, academics, officials from government agencies, partners/associates from law firms, people that worked for the organizations like the UN and Amnesty International, to individuals that just completed their undergraduate legal studies. I think so long as you do relatively well, have an interesting background, write a thoughtful application essay/statement, you will be a competitive candidate. It is not a science. It is not just about grades. Sure you have to have good grades (to demonstrate that you will be able to handle the academic rigor of legal studies in the US), but it is the often the whole enchilada, of how will this person enrich the incoming student body and the law school community, that makes or breaks a person's chances. I would apply to as many schools as is feasible, time and money wise, and see. Schools like Harvard and Yale are probably going to be more competitive than some other good schools, just because a Harvard degree is considered the Hope Diamond of the US higher ed system, but I would apply anyway.
I think you have a solid chance to get at least into some of the programs. Sure, some programs are more competitive than others, simply because they get more applications, but, generally speaking, I do believe it is not as difficult to get admission to an LL.M. program than it is to a school's JD program. It is simple numbers. A school will get significantly more applications from US students for its JD program than from international students for an LL.M. Sure there are less spots in most LL.M. programs than there are in respective JD programs but the numbers still favor LL.M. applicants (Some JD programs get 10,000-15,000 applications for 400 spots). It all varies from year to year, based on the number of applicants, the quality of applicants, but you seem to have done well, have an interesting background, have good recommendations, so I do not see why you should not get into at least some of the programs mentioned. I went to a good program (will not say which one :)) and our student body was pretty diverse. It comprised of people from every corner of the world (we had students from about 40-50 countries), with very varied professional backgrounds, from judges, academics, officials from government agencies, partners/associates from law firms, people that worked for the organizations like the UN and Amnesty International, to individuals that just completed their undergraduate legal studies. I think so long as you do relatively well, have an interesting background, write a thoughtful application essay/statement, you will be a competitive candidate. It is not a science. It is not just about grades. Sure you have to have good grades (to demonstrate that you will be able to handle the academic rigor of legal studies in the US), but it is the often the whole enchilada, of how will this person enrich the incoming student body and the law school community, that makes or breaks a person's chances. I would apply to as many schools as is feasible, time and money wise, and see. Schools like Harvard and Yale are probably going to be more competitive than some other good schools, just because a Harvard degree is considered the Hope Diamond of the US higher ed system, but I would apply anyway.
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meche
Thanks for taking the time to answer! You´ve given me a lot to think about :)
Thanks for taking the time to answer! You´ve given me a lot to think about :)
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Hi Tristan and friends:

Talking about Los Angeles, what do you think about USC??? Its location and LLM program?

What about Columbos OH??? I liked a lot the Ohio State LLM program but don't know much about the city of Columbos...
Hi Tristan and friends:

Talking about Los Angeles, what do you think about USC??? Its location and LLM program?

What about Columbos OH??? I liked a lot the Ohio State LLM program but don't know much about the city of Columbos...
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Tristan
Hi Tristan and friends:

Talking about Los Angeles, what do you think about USC??? Its location and LLM program?

What about Columbos OH??? I liked a lot the Ohio State LLM program but don't know much about the city of Columbos...


USC is a fine school with a great law school. Location though is pretty bad. It is essentially in South Central, a very very bad part of Los Angeles. The university is trying to "clean up" the neighborhood, gentrify it, but it is, generally speaking, still a bad area. Last year, two international graduate students from China were shot and killed right off campus. Aesthetically, the area also is not very nice. It is very urban. That being said, you don't have to live on or near campus. You can live in Santa Monica, West LA, and just catch the bus in for classes.

Not a big fan of Columbus. It is a mid size blue collar city with not a whole lot going on outside of the university. It is very cold in the winter (November-April) and life in Columbus pretty much revolves around Ohio State football. Personally, if I was picking between USC and OSU, despite the crappy locations of USC's campus, I would pick USC easily over OSU.
<blockquote>Hi Tristan and friends:

Talking about Los Angeles, what do you think about USC??? Its location and LLM program?

What about Columbos OH??? I liked a lot the Ohio State LLM program but don't know much about the city of Columbos...</blockquote>

USC is a fine school with a great law school. Location though is pretty bad. It is essentially in South Central, a very very bad part of Los Angeles. The university is trying to "clean up" the neighborhood, gentrify it, but it is, generally speaking, still a bad area. Last year, two international graduate students from China were shot and killed right off campus. Aesthetically, the area also is not very nice. It is very urban. That being said, you don't have to live on or near campus. You can live in Santa Monica, West LA, and just catch the bus in for classes.

Not a big fan of Columbus. It is a mid size blue collar city with not a whole lot going on outside of the university. It is very cold in the winter (November-April) and life in Columbus pretty much revolves around Ohio State football. Personally, if I was picking between USC and OSU, despite the crappy locations of USC's campus, I would pick USC easily over OSU.
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You might also consider Emory, which is a well-regarded law school and university overall. It is in the large and growing city of Atlanta, which is the financial and cultural capital of the Southeast.
You might also consider Emory, which is a well-regarded law school and university overall. It is in the large and growing city of Atlanta, which is the financial and cultural capital of the Southeast.
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Tristan
You might also consider Emory, which is a well-regarded law school and university overall. It is in the large and growing city of Atlanta, which is the financial and cultural capital of the Southeast.


Emory has an excellent law school and, overall, Emory is a great university, but no disrespect, Atlanta is a dump. I have been to Atlanta many times (on business) and just find it completely unappealing. Sure, you can go check out the Coca Cola Museum, the aquarium, the botanical gardens, but, personally, I find the city blah, not to mention it is oppressively hot and humid from about May through September. It has a high crime rate, has a sort of non-descript urban/grungy feel to it. Personally, I do not find too many of the large cities in the south very appealing. Of the large cities, Boston, Chicago, NYC, DC, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, have infinitely a lot more going for them than the ATL, from internship opportunities, to social/cultural events, to restaurants, diversity, etc.

There are other great law schools that, personally, I did not consider, like Duke, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Wash U (St. Louis), Notre Dame, Washington & Lee, Wisconsin, etc. because of their respective locations. I always advise international students to focus on the large/cosmpolitan cities like San Francisco, NY, Washngton D.C., etc. Sure, you attend a university for its academic reputation, but you also want to have a life outside of your studies and cities like NYC, DC offer ample opportunities socially, culturally, job/internship wise, not to mention that they are pretty international and diverse, whereas Georgia lies in the heart of the Bible Belt, not very diverse, with ample racism, perhaps not as much in Atlanta proper, but you get out of the city limits and you can feel the south.
<blockquote>You might also consider Emory, which is a well-regarded law school and university overall. It is in the large and growing city of Atlanta, which is the financial and cultural capital of the Southeast. </blockquote>

Emory has an excellent law school and, overall, Emory is a great university, but no disrespect, Atlanta is a dump. I have been to Atlanta many times (on business) and just find it completely unappealing. Sure, you can go check out the Coca Cola Museum, the aquarium, the botanical gardens, but, personally, I find the city blah, not to mention it is oppressively hot and humid from about May through September. It has a high crime rate, has a sort of non-descript urban/grungy feel to it. Personally, I do not find too many of the large cities in the south very appealing. Of the large cities, Boston, Chicago, NYC, DC, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, have infinitely a lot more going for them than the ATL, from internship opportunities, to social/cultural events, to restaurants, diversity, etc.

There are other great law schools that, personally, I did not consider, like Duke, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Wash U (St. Louis), Notre Dame, Washington & Lee, Wisconsin, etc. because of their respective locations. I always advise international students to focus on the large/cosmpolitan cities like San Francisco, NY, Washngton D.C., etc. Sure, you attend a university for its academic reputation, but you also want to have a life outside of your studies and cities like NYC, DC offer ample opportunities socially, culturally, job/internship wise, not to mention that they are pretty international and diverse, whereas Georgia lies in the heart of the Bible Belt, not very diverse, with ample racism, perhaps not as much in Atlanta proper, but you get out of the city limits and you can feel the south.
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