Admissions

The LLM in American Law Program is designed for foreign jurists who seek to learn American substantive law and receive an in-depth understanding of America’s legal institutions, traditions, and culture. The degree is especially attractive to lawyers who expect to interact with American-trained attorneys on international transactions which implicate American law and legal institutions. This includes lawyers who represent clients with interests in the United States or American clients with interests in their home countries—essentially any lawyer who expects to participate in today’s increasingly global legal market. Lawyers trained in a civil law system, as in many European countries, not only benefit from learning American substantive law, but they also receive important grounding in the case law method and legal reasoning process which characterizes the common law tradition. This is a new and eye-opening experience to many foreign-trained lawyers. Increasingly, a master of laws degree from an American law school is seen as an important credential for professional advancement in many foreign countries.

The program is open to qualified students who have already obtained a first degree in law, or its equivalent, from a school outside the United States. In many cases this is an LLB degree.

The LLM in American Law Class of 2016 consisted of 106 students from more than 30 countries. One of the program’s benefits is its limited size—all the students get to know each other and the Director works with each individual student closely throughout the year on academic planning issues or any other matter of concern.

Although the application deadline is April 15, serious candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible in the fall, particularly in light of widespread, anticipated delays in the visa issuance process. The admissions committee begins reviewing applications and making admissions decisions in November. Applications received after April 15 will be considered only if space is still available in the program.

The program looks for students with strong academic backgrounds and evidence that the candidate can perform well in a rigorous academic program. All applicants are required to take the TOEFL exam (unless otherwise exempted) and obtain a minimum score of 600 (paper-based) or 100 (internet-based). Because students are expected to participate fully in classroom discussions, a high level of English proficiency is critical. Occasionally, students are accepted on the condition that they take an English class at Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) during the summer before the fall semester. In addition to transcripts and letters of recommendation, the application also asks for a personal statement. All promising candidates receive a telephone interview with the Director and/or the Assistant Director.

You may be exempted from the TOEFL requirement if (1) English is your native language; or (2) you received your first degree in law from a college or university in a country where both the language of instruction and the native language is English. This also applies to US citizens and US permanent residents.

Proficiency in English is a significant factor in our admissions decisions. A minimum total score of 600 on the paper-based TOEFL; or a minimum total score of 100 on the internet-based TOEFL, with subscores of 25 (reading), 25 (listening), 25 (writing) and 25 (speaking) are generally required and most admitted LLM applicants have substantially higher scores. If you scored below 600/100 on the TOEFL exam, but are otherwise qualified, you may still apply, but we may ask you to retake the TOEFL. In that case, we will hold off on making an admissions decision until we receive a higher score.

No. Work experience is preferred but is not required. While most of the students come to the program with some work experience—and while work experience is often a positive factor in admissions decisions—some students attend the program immediately after their law studies.

No. All LLM in American Law students begin the program in the fall semester.

Tuition for the full-year program during the 2016–2017 academic year is $50,000. In addition, a single student should expect to pay approximately $22,122 in living expenses (including health insurance, housing, meals, books, etc.). For visa purposes, applicants for fall 2016 provided financial documentation showing the availability of funds in an amount of at least $70,112. To estimate the required funding for fall 2017 prior to the release of the official requirements by Boston University, we suggest adding 5% to the 2016–2017 funding requirements.

The School of Law acknowledges a small number of LLM applicants who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement through the LLM Scholars Program. In most cases, however, students must secure their own funding sources. Two good websites to check are www.finaid.org and www.FundingUSstudy.org. Incoming students who are either citizens or permanent residents of the United States may be eligible for federal loans or assistance. To learn more about your financial options, contact the Boston University School of Law Financial Aid Office at bulawaid@bu.edu.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis when the Graduate and International Programs Office receives all required materials (transcripts, recommendation letters, TOEFL, personal statement and financial documentation). If you are not able to provide financial documentation at the time you submit your application—for example, if you are applying for a grant or scholarship from your home country—please say so in your application and describe your anticipated sources of funding. Promising candidates are contacted (usually by email) to schedule a phone interview with the Director and/or Assistant Director. The interview is a chance for the Director or Assistant Director to hear more about your background, interests in the program, and career goals, and is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have. We notify applicants of admissions decisions by email, not by phone.

If you are admitted into the program, we ask that you inform us of your intention to attend BU Law by the date specified in your acceptance letter. Extensions may be granted at the Director’s discretion. Upon confirming your decision to attend BU Law, we require a $500 deposit to secure your place in the class. Once we receive your deposit, we will begin processing your visa documents. We cannot process your immigration documents unless we have received the necessary financial documentation. These include a bank statement or letter and a sponsorship certification form, if necessary. When your financial documentation is complete, our Program Coordinator will gather your completed file and send it to the school’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), which will issue your official Form I-20. Once complete, your Form I-20 will be sent to you via FedEx along with an email confirmation that the document has been sent. This process typically takes around four weeks. Later in the summer, we will send you course information and other registration materials in anticipation of your arrival in Boston.

While the mandatory orientation takes place in late August, students are strongly encouraged to arrive in early August to secure housing and get settled. Additionally, all students are expected to arrive prior to orientation, in order to meet with OGIP staff to select their classes. Students who attend a summer Legal English Program at CELOP, which begins in early July, will need to arrive in late June.

Entering foreign law students are strongly encouraged to attend CELOP’s summer Legal English class. In summer 2010, nearly half of the entering class attended. While the CELOP program is a language class—not a law class—it helps prepare students for their upcoming studies by familiarizing them with the language and materials of American law. It also exposes students to basic doctrine, thereby easing their adjustment to their substantive classes. Students who attend report that they begin law school with much more confidence and gain more from their fall semester studies and after having taken the summer program. Another benefit is that students get a head start settling into their new environments in Boston—by making friends early, exploring Boston, taking care of logistical matters—before the demands of law studies begin. On occasion, students may be admitted to the American Law program on the condition that they attend CELOP’s Legal English class or some other intensive English program at CELOP.

International applicants must register with the LLM Credential Assembly Service provided by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). This service collects and authenticates the academic records and TOEFL scores of international lawyers who are applying for admission to US LLM programs, and sends reports to participating LLM programs to which these lawyers have applied. Because applicants will need to obtain only one set of official academic transcripts in order to make them available for all applications to participating law schools, the service should save them time and money. Students therefore do not need to send additional, original transcripts from each of their schools to Boston University School of Law; LSAC will send us all of their records in one package. The registration fee of $185 (US) includes five reports to law schools (additional reports can be ordered at an additional fee). International applicants can register for this service online.

Graduates of BU’s LLM programs and former exchange students who do not qualify for advanced standing in one of BU’s LLM programs may continue their studies at BU Law as Special Visiting Students. This option is available for one or two semesters of study. To apply, complete the Special Visiting Student application and submit the International Student Data Form and supporting financial documents, as well as a copy of your passport identification page, as described in the application. Details on tuition are included in the application.

Academics

Boston University School of Law is consistently recognized as one of America’s premier law schools. Boston University School of Law’s faculty is consistently ranked the number one teaching faculty in America, according to Princeton Review’s guide. The School’s academic strengths cover all substantive areas of law. Our Intellectual Property Program has recently been recognized as among the top in America (ranked #10 by U.S. News & World Report in 2015). The School’s strengths in corporate, business, financial, banking, and tax law are renowned. The faculty is known not only for its scholarship, but also for its accessibility to students and commitment to teaching. LLM students, because they are integrated into the JD classes, experience this academic excellence first-hand.

Students must complete 24 credits in two semesters of full-time study. This generally means that they take between 3 and 5 classes each term. Students need a cumulative weighted grade point average of C+ (2.30) to receive the degree. All students must take “Introduction to the American Legal System” and a seminar in Legal Research and Writing in the fall semester. All students also participate in a graduate colloquium in the spring term called “Topics in American Law.” The introductory course gives an overview of the main substantive areas of American Law—such as contracts, constitutional law, civil procedure—and teaches the methods of legal reasoning and analysis that characterize America’s common law tradition (students are evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis in this introductory course). The legal research and writing seminar teaches students how to find and use legal resources and how to write legal memoranda, contracts and other documents in an American legal style. Students learn the latest computerized legal research methods (and receive legal research software). The colloquium is a series of faculty presentation on timely topics in American law, such as on the “Governance of the Internet” or on the “US Health Care System.” Beyond these requirements, students are free to design their own study plans, choosing classes and seminars according to their own personal and professional interests. Each of the students benefit from frequent and close contact with the Director of the Graduate and International Programs Office in designing his/her individual course of study.

Our foreign LLMs experience an American legal education in the true sense. Unlike many other LLM Programs, where courses are generally taught by adjunct faculty and where students exclusively take classes with other, often foreign LLMs, the students in the American Law Program take classes with JD students and are generally taught by full-time faculty. They are expected to participate in these classes like other students, which means taking part in the “Socratic” teaching method. This teaching method involves an interactive dialogue with the professor who questions students about the case materials (instead of “lecturing” the students about the topic). Students not only learn the substance of American law, but they also learn what it is like to be trained as an American lawyer. This perspective is invaluable for any foreign attorney who expects to interact with American-trained lawyers in his/her career.

At BU Law, class size ranges from under twenty students (in seminars, for example), to 75 or 80 students—with most classes having about 35–50 students in attendance. It would not be uncommon, for example, for between three and ten LLM students to attend a class with 35 or 40 JD students. Overall, BU Law has one of the lowest faculty/student ratios of any law school its size.

In seminars, students generally discuss readings in a small group setting. All seminars have limited enrollment, usually with fewer than 25 students. Instead of taking an examination, students write one or more research papers for the class. LLMs are free to enroll in seminars, though they should realize that seminars require active participation and solid writing skills.

Yes. The program’s flexibility allows students to specialize their studies in virtually any area of substantive law by selecting classes in specific areas. Students can also pursue formal “concentrations” in either of three important fields: Intellectual Property, International Business Practice, and Tax. Students who complete one of these concentrations will receive official certification that they specialized their studies as part of their American law degree.

LLM In American Law students are integrated into the JD curriculum and therefore have the flexibility to take courses in virtually any area of law. Banking and Financial Law LLM students, on the other hand, study more focused and narrow topics in banking and financial law—many of which are required for the program’s degree—and do so with other LLM students, not with the school’s JD students. LLM In American Law students can, if they wish, cross-register in classes through the Banking and Financial Law Program, on a limited basis and subject to space availability.

Exams take place at the end of each semester, in December and May. The exams are written, not oral. They usually last 3 to 4 hours. Occasionally, classes have “take-home” exams. LLM students take the same exams as JD students, though they are graded separately from the JDs and are not compared to JDs for grading purposes. They are given an extra hour to take their in-class exams.

Student Life

The Graduate and International Programs Office has an unwavering commitment to helping ensure the best experience for every student. LLMs receive dedicated academic guidance and counseling from the Director and Assistant Director, who are also always available to help students with any issues or problems that arise, whether personal or academic. Early in the fall semester, LLMs are matched with JD students who serve as their “buddies,” to provide advice and support during the year. LLMs also have the support of a full-time career counselor assigned to work with them on their job searches.

LLM students not only learn a tremendous amount of law but they have enriching personal experiences—and a huge amount of fun! The Graduate and International Programs Office organizes frequent receptions and gatherings where students can interact with each other and other members of the law school community. Together, we explore Boston and New England—apple picking in the countryside during the fall; going to Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox games; taking in theater, music and shows; and dining out in any of Boston’s myriad restaurants. As full members of the BU Law community, LLM students also partake in numerous non-classroom learning opportunities, such as faculty presentations, speakers’ series, and court watching trips; as well as social and extra-curricular events with the JD students. LLM students are welcome to join BU Law’s numerous student organizations, as well as elect a non-voting representative to the Student Government Association (SGA).

Boston University offers vast and comprehensive opportunities for fitness, recreation, and sporting events. All LLM students are able to take advantage of those opportunities through classes, club, and intramural sports, and the use of BU’s many facilities, including the Fitness and Recreation Center. Past LLM students have participated in classes ranging from aerobics, yoga, and weight training to sailing, ice skating, dance, and martial arts. Many have also created their own teams to participate in club sports with students from across the University community, such as soccer or golf. The LLM in American Law Class has even held its own LLM Invitational Golf Tournament, in which students, faculty, staff, and friends participated! Additionally, the campus’ location along the banks of the Charles River allows students easy access to one of America’s most celebrated and picturesque recreational paths, popular for running, biking, rollerblading, or just going for a leisurely stroll.

Visa regulations limit international students to working only on-campus, for no more than twenty hours per week. There are no teaching assistant positions available at BU Law, though students can work as research assistants for professors, depending upon the needs of individual faculty members. Studying law at BU Law is a full-time commitment and many students realize that there is scarce time to work.

Faculty members do occasionally need the help of “research assistants.” Research assistants are law students (JDs or LLMs) who help conduct research for faculty members’ scholarly projects, such as books or articles. These students are paid nominal amounts (not enough to cover one’s living expenses in Boston); they generally work for no more than 8 or 10 hours a week in this capacity. The availability of these kinds of opportunities depends entirely on the scholarly needs of individual faculty members. When a professor needs a research assistant, he or she will often make an announcement in class or perhaps send out an email. The selection of research assistants does not take place until school begins. Please understand, however, that LLM students who have worked as research assistants in the past have done so in the spring semester—after they have completed the program’s Legal Research and Writing Seminar in the fall term.

Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) offers a full range of programs for international students to learn and practice English and to meet other international students in Boston. Spouses of LLM students often enroll in English classes at CELOP. More information on CELOP is available at http://www.bu.edu/celop.

Boston University School of Law students who are here with their families can use the services provided by the Boston University Office of Family Resources. Their mission is to help students with families create a better work-life balance. Their website offers information on babysitting services, local schools, and early childhood learning centers. If you will be in Boston with your family, please visit http://www.bu.edu/family/.

Careers

The program is designed for students to return to their home countries, with the enhanced professional credential of a graduate law degree from one of America’s premier law schools, and with a marketable knowledge base of US law. It is not intended to be a preparatory program leading to the practice of law in the United States. The majority of students secure employment back in their home countries—or elsewhere outside the US. They frequently find work in international law firms or in corporations with international business. Each January, the school participates in the International Student Interview Program (ISIP) at New York University, where students take part in interviews with prospective employers, for limited-term internships or permanent positions. Many LLMs find opportunities through this event.

Under current student visa regulations, LLM graduates may stay in America for a limited period of “practical training” after graduation. Securing an internship in America after the program is possible, but these positions are limited. Many American Law students participate in the program’s post-graduation internship program, which places students in law-related settings during the Optional Practical Training periods.

To practice law in the US, you need to pass a state bar exam for the state in which you intend to practice. Each of the fifty states has its own criteria and procedures for admitting lawyers to practice; and achieving the LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to apply for admission to take the bar examination in every state or to practice law in every state. Most states in fact have very strict limitations on foreign lawyers’ eligibility to take their bar exam. Students are responsible for contacting the state bar examiners in those states in which they are interested in taking the bar examination to determine their eligibility.

A number of LLMs do qualify to take the New York Bar Examination each year after completing their studies at BU Law. They study in Boston during the months of June and July through a “bar-preparation program” offered by a private company. The exam is given twice a year—at the end of July and in February.

Absolutely. BU Law’s LLM Professional Development Office is staffed by an Associate Director and a career advisor exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of LLM students. Students have complete access to career development resources, as well as the school’s alumni network, to assist them in their job searches, whether in the US or overseas. This includes resume and cover letter assistance, interview preparation, and job search strategy development.

Transfer to JD Program

Yes, students enrolled in the LLM in American Law Program may apply to the JD program as transfer students and—if they are admitted—may receive up to one-third of their JD credits from their LLM studies, consistent with American Bar Association standards. This means they may be able to complete the JD program with two additional years of study.

Yes, transfer candidates must take the LSAT. LLM students may take the LSAT as late as June for fall enrollment.

The JD Admission Committee will look closely at your academic performance during the LLM year, including strong recommendation letters from BU Law faculty members. Your LSAT scores will be considered in the context of your academic performance at BU Law and in light of the school’s median scores. Candidates should not expect to receive preferential treatment by the JD Admissions Committee simply by virtue of attending the LLM program at BU Law. Transfer candidates will be evaluated in comparison to all transfer applicants and admission is not at all guaranteed.

American Law LLM students are eligible to receive credit for law school classes taken during the LLM year that are otherwise open to JD students. Credit will not be given for the class, Introduction to the American Legal System.

You may enter the JD program in the fall or spring semester. For fall semester transfer candidates, please consult the JD Transfer Admissions website for a link to the online application and the most up to date information about deadlines and required materials. For spring enrollment, please contact the JD Admissions Office for a paper application and information about deadlines. Matriculated students must complete all JD program requirements within five years of beginning their LLM studies. Generally, this means students must enroll in the JD program within two years of beginning their LLM studies. For example, students who begin their LLM studies in fall 2015 may enter the JD program in fall 2016, in which case they would apply in spring 2016; or they can enter the JD program in fall 2017, in which case they would apply in spring 2017.)

Transfer students need to complete all the requirements of the JD program. This includes all first-year courses not otherwise taken during the LLM program, Professional Responsibility, and the upper-class writing requirement. Transferees would need to take the second semester of the first year writing program (including Moot Court) if they took the single semester LLM Legal Research and Writing seminar. If not, they would take the entire first-year writing program.

Transfer application forms and application instructions are available at the Office of JD Admissions.