Set Yourself Up for LLM Success

The Two-Year LLM is an intensive LLM program designed to equip ambitious international students and lawyers with the academic, legal, and language skills necessary to succeed in U.S. law school. Through experiencing an innovate blend of legal English, American legal culture and practice, and substantive doctrinal coursework, you will graduate with a high competency in both the letter of the law and its application.

We have had great results in giving students the legal tools necessary to succeed in the American Law, Banking and Financial Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Taxation LLM programs. Whether your plan is to take the New York bar or to find a job after graduation, for students who want to take their legal and English skills to the next level, the Two-Year LLM may be the right program for you.


Three Advantages of the Two-Year LLM:

  1. Intensive development of legal writing, case analysis, and advocacy skills in the first year allows students to confidently meet the academic challenges of their LLM coursework in the second year;
  2. Having an additional year to study legal English gives students the opportunity to make substantial improvements in their English that are not possible in one year programs; and
  3. Spending two years in Boston and at BU Law allows students and any of their family members the opportunity to really become a Boston local and to fully appreciate the rich history that Boston has to offer. You will also have the most opportunities to visit court proceedings, attend talks by special guest lecturers, and participate in the many social events sponsored by the law school.

Program Schedule

Year 1: Legal English Certificate Program

Students enroll in a specialized mix of legal English, legal skills, and legal doctrine coursework. Fall semester: Legal English, Academic Skills for U.S. Law Studies, and Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture. Spring semester: Legal English II, Academic Skills for U.S. Law Studies II, Legal Writing, Persuasive Legal Advocacy, and Topics in American Law. For full course descriptions, please visit the Curriculum page.

Summer:

Students entering the Banking and Financial Law Program attend Financial Services Fundamentals. Students entering any of the BU Law’s other LLM programs enroll in the Pre-LLM (EN026) program.

Year 2: Your LLM Program

Students enroll in the American Law, Banking and Financial Law, Intellectual Property Law, or Taxation LLM program. For full program details, please visit our LLM Degrees page.


Admissions Requirements

  • First Degree in Law. Two-Year LLM applicants must have a first degree in law. However, applicants to only the Legal English Certificate Program do not need a law degree.
  • English Proficiency. Please note that if you do not meet the below stated scores you are still encouraged to apply, as we assess applications based on a variety of factors in addition to English proficiency scores.
    • TOEFL: a score of 85 or higher on the iTOEFL (compared to 100 as required for a one year LLM program); 550 or higher on the paper-based TOEFL.
    • IELTS: a combined score of 5.5 or higher.
  • For a full list of admissions requirements, please visit our admissions page.

Student Spotlights

Assem Circle Assem Al-Ahmadi

Program: Two-Year LLM with American Law
Home Country: Saudi Arabia

Ever since I was a student at King Abdulaziz University, I knew that one day I wanted to study at a U.S. law school. However, I also always knew that I would have to improve my English before starting an LL.M. program. LL.M. programs put you in class with native English speakers, so to be ready for that I wanted to first study legal English. That’s why I chose the Two-Year LL.M. program at Boston University School of Law. The first year of the Two-Year program is a Legal English Certificate Program (LECP), which enables me to build up my legal English skills before I start my LL.M.

At this time, I’m in the last month of the LECP year. There have been many challenges, including difficult classes, transitioning back to school from the work environment, and adjusting to a new culture and environment. Meeting these challenges has greatly improved my abilities as a student and lawyer. Furthermore, my experience in the classroom has also widened my gaze. I am now really enjoying being a law student at such an internationally well-known and prestigious law school. I also enjoy sharing my classes with students from all over the world, including China, Turkey, Kuwait, Thailand, Taiwan, and Armenia (and of course with many friends from Saudi Arabia).

Our classes let us improve our legal English skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and teach us about the U.S. legal system. We also learn foundational concepts that involve constitutional law. We are given many reading and writing assignments each semester, which enable better absorption of the materials and preparation for exams. Although the load of assignments is overwhelming (it’s really a lot!), this experience is expanding my knowledge in the legal field, which I believe is rewarding. The U.S. legal education style is very different from the Saudi style, so I am happy to have a preparation year before starting the LL.M.

Probably one of the most useful skills I’ve learn this year is how to read a fact pattern, issue-spot, and write an organized analysis. Learning how to do a fact pattern will be really useful next year, since many U.S. law school exams use the fact pattern for exams. These skills are also very useful for my own professional development because they help me see legal issues and organize my arguments.

I believe that graduate work at Boston University will be the most logical extension of my academic pursuits and a major step towards achieving my objectives. I am confident that I will receive the best graduate education at Boston University School of Law since it is one of the top universities in the United States.

~ Assem 

Alia Alsudairy

Program: Two-Year LLM with American Law
Home Country: Saudi Arabia


What was the nature of your legal practice prior to coming to BU Law?

I was working at a mid-sized firm in Saudi Arabia that worked in association with Jones Day. I had a general corporate practice where my responsibilities were things like reviewing and drafting contracts, conducting due diligence, and interviewing clients. A lot of my contract work involved construction contracts, which I personally found fascinating because I have a passion for architecture and engineering. I also did quite a bit of translation work. While I don’t have any formal translator training, I found that doing translation work really forced me to scrutinize the exact meaning of terms and how they were used, which was a useful skill when I started my studies at BU Law. I also had a great senior lawyer as a mentor at my firm. Similar to the partner-associate relationship in U.S. firms, associates in Saudi get most of their training from working directly with a more senior lawyer.

What made you decide to put work on hold and do an LLM?

While I really loved my job, I felt like it still wasn’t enough. There were things I wanted to learn that studying abroad would be the best option for. One thing was that I was encountering more and more English on the job and contracts that involved non-Saudis. So improving my English, and specifically legal English, was a big priority for me. I also wanted a more solid foundation in the American legal system, as that’s very useful when dealing with international business law.

Choosing to study abroad also was a very personal decision for me. My father came to the U.S. when he was a young man and studied in Washington D.C. I think that experience changed his worldview. The way he thinks about things is different from his friends who never had that chance to study abroad. I really like that he’s different in that way. So I wanted to make sure I had that opportunity to expand my thinking as well.

Another factor in my decision was knowing that a master’s degree from a top U.S. law school would help me make the jump to even better job prospects.

How is the academic experience here different from back home?

It’s very different. In Saudi, most of our classes were around 25 students and they were purely lecture based. The relationship between the professor and students was quite formal. In terms of the content, in addition to Saudi law, we studied different legal systems and laws, for instance French and Egyptian law, due to those countries’ legal influence on our own system. We also learned a lot of theory. And memorization was very important, because the assessments often required you to recall exact passages from the text. I used to basically memorize entire books. In terms of assessments, we had written mid-terms and finals like we do here at BU, but it was also common to have a required presentation as well, which I didn’t encounter as much here. I did also have some classes taught in English, which was somewhat unique to my school. I generally enjoyed these classes, because the style of teaching was different.

Here at BU the classroom environment is much more interactive. One of my favorite classes was International Business Arbitration with Professor Park. Professor Park taught in a way I had never experienced before. While he was lecturing and teaching a lot of information, the class always still felt like a conversation. It was really amazing. Now I’m hoping to incorporate arbitration into my professional career, as it’s a subject I really find fascinating.

I am also having a wonderful experience in Professor Schaper’s Transactional Simulation: Forming a Start-up. She treats us like working lawyers, and it is a fantastic way to gain real-world experience in an academic environment. It is quite challenging though, as negotiating and drafting a term sheet involves not only a lot of new legal concepts, but significant legal English hurdles as well. It’s a great challenge though.

Another thing that I really appreciate about studying at BU Law is how willing professors are to work with you. If you make the effort in the class, they are really willing to connect with you on a personal level. It’s great to be able to send a professor multiple drafts of something before you hand it in, and get detailed comments back that they go over with you.

How do you think you’ve grown over the past two years?

Of course my English is better. I remember at the very beginning of the Legal English Certificate Program, I was in the Law Café with a classmate. We could honestly barely communicate. I remember thinking to myself, “can we really do this?” Now almost two years later we’re close friends, and talking to each other is basically second nature. It’s amazing how far we’ve come since that first lunch in the Law Café.

It’s not just my language skills that have improved though; my critical thinking and argumentative skills have also really come a long way. One of the main reasons was the first year Legal English Certificate Program. Particularly in Introduction to U.S. Legal Culture and Topics in American Law, we had a lot of written assignments that developed my skills in making a strong argument. I also became very familiar with fact-patterns and the IRAC style of writing, which was very useful in the second year.

Maybe the most important way I’ve grown is in confidence. This program has pushed me outside of my comfort zone for so long, that it now feels normal. I think this is an area I’ll work on my whole life, but after these two years I can feel a big difference. When I walk into a classroom, an interview, or an office, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities. That’s something that’s really valuable to me.

How have you liked Boston?

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting the winter. In my first winter here we had “snowmageddon.” It was one of Boston’s snowiest winters in history. This winter has been much better. But really, I love Boston. After two years it really feels like home, and I think I’ve pretty much walked every street in downtown Boston. I live in Chinatown and commute to school. It’s great living right downtown, and is still very convenient to BU Law. I also do sculpting and painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, which allows me to use my brain in a completely different way every so often, which I think is important for my sanity! There’s so much culture and history in Boston, and I’ve gotten to experience a lot of that.

What’s next for you?

Good question! I’m not sure. There’s a chance I go back to Saudi to work in the corporate department of a firm. Or I might find a job here in the U.S. first. I’d like to spend a little time working in the U.S. before I go back, but if I find the right job back home, I think I’ll have to take it. I’m also planning to take the bar next February, so there’s that in my future as well. For now, I’m just trying to enjoy my last couple months at BU Law!

Zaruhi Circle Zaruhi Mkrtumyan

Program: Two-Year LLM with American Law
Home Country: Armenia

My passion for education was instilled in me at an early age. My parents raised me with the idea that without education and knowledge, life would lack substance.

So, after I earned my bachelor’s degree at Yerevan State University, I decided to pursue my master’s degree in jurisprudence. I then worked as a Judge’s Assistant in the Civil Court of Appeal for three years. In the Civil Court of Appeal my duties as a judge’s assistant included preparing the necessary materials and information under the judge’s instruction, examining and analyzing legal issues, studying the appeals, administering judgments, producing court orders, and judicial acts.

But I did not want to stop just yet. I had achieved so much, but wanted to keep going. I was always dreaming about continuing my education abroad. Ultimately, I decided to continue my studies at Boston University’s School of Law. I chose to participate in their Legal English Certificate Program (LECP) and Two-Year LL.M. program. I chose BU because I believed that it is the best place to achieve my career objectives because of its integrated manner of learning and studying, faculty members, and resources. BU’s School of Law is well-known for its academic and practical courses. I could be equipped with advanced academic legal skills and knowledge which could be applied in a future career. I wanted to gain a deeper knowledge of the U.S. legal system, and practical skills which would prepare me for leadership roles in the global market.

The LECP was quite a new world for me. The fact that I was the only Armenian in the program worried me a lot. Almost all of the other students were fortunate to have somebody to talk to from their home country during the lunch hour. I was missing speaking my native  language, Armenian, so much and sometimes could not hold my tears. Fortunately, I could overcome that hardship and I was able to due to the help provided by the director of the program, assistant director, and the professors who were very friendly and eager to speak to me any time I needed. After such conversations I felt more relaxed and was very enthusiastic about my studies and student activities. I could also get in touch with The Armenian Students Association (ASA) of Boston University and had the opportunity to meet with a lot of Armenian students who were also happy to welcome me.

As an international student, taking classes with a Socratic approach was absolutely challenging, but also was a beneficial experience for me. Unlike law school in Armenia, at BU I didn’t just sit and take notes. I was expected to participate in the lecture by answering the lecturer’s questions. At the beginning I was very nervous, but gradually I became accustomed to the “new rules” and enjoyed my opportunities to introduce my own opinion reasoned in the context of law.

I really value everything I’ve learned over this past year. The program also gave me the opportunity visit federal and state courts, have conversations with the judges, and compare the judicial systems in Armenia and in the US.

Most of all, the LECP gave me the opportunity to gain new meaningful life experiences. The standard of education was very high and attracted students from various countries. This made the classroom and study interactions very enriching and exactly what I was looking for. The whole year was full of extraordinary academic, professional, and also many fun experiences. I am convinced that the LECP and LL.M. will open doors towards a successful law career.

~ Zaruhi 

Feyaz Circle Feyza Ozdemir

Program: Two-Year LLM with Banking & Financial Law
Home Country: Turkey

What did you do prior to coming to BU, and what made you apply?

Before coming to BU, I worked in the Turkish government’s capital markets division, where my job was to provide legal advice to public companies and other governmental departments. I also had the opportunity to represent the government in litigation, so I got to do a wide range of legal tasks. I chose this department for two reasons. First, I was interested in the subject matter and corporate law in general. Second, I also knew the department offered sponsorship to study in the US, which is something I always wanted to do. I was very curious to experience American law school culture and to develop an understanding of the common law legal system. Also, it’s quite common for people in my department to have LLMs from foreign law schools.

What are the differences between U.S. and Turkish law schools?

In Turkey, my classes were much bigger. We would often have over 250 students in one class. And all the classes were lecture based, where you basically go to class and listen to the professor speak. Students of course can ask questions, though most don’t, and the professor doesn’t call on people to answer questions. Here at the law school there is a lot more activity in the classroom. Professors ask many questions and students frequently raise their hands. It’s a lot more like a conversation, even in the big classes. Also, we have the chance to take seminars here, which usually have less than 20 students. There was no opportunity for that at my law school in Turkey. We also didn’t get much choice in the classes we took. Every year we’d take eleven year-long courses and only two or three of them were electives. This year I have a lot more choice in the classes I’m taking, although meeting the New York bar examination requirements means there are certain classes I have to take. Also, the exam period back home was a lot more stressful. Since classes lasted for a whole year, there was a lot of material to study, and all the exams were essays. Here, some classes have papers instead of a final exam and some exams have multiple choice questions as well.

What skills do you think you’ve improved the most since coming to BU Law?

I think I’ve improved my writing the most. I can communicate things in a more direct and simple way now. I think this is because of the difference in legal culture between the US and Turkey. In Turkey, it was acceptable to write in a somewhat indirect manner, communicating through implication. Lawyers also tend to use a lot of legalese. Here, it seems like we are encouraged to be more direct and to say things as plainly as possible. I remember one professor telling me, “if that’s what you mean, then just say it!” I like this more direct way of communicating because I think it is more efficient. However, sometimes being clear and simple is actually very challenging!

Maybe one reason for this difference is because the US is a common law system. In Turkey, we can write in a complicated way and the judge will still be able to understand us. Here, if you’re explaining something to a jury, you need to be really clear and simple.

My speaking has also improved a lot. In Turkey, we study English from an early age, but the focus is mostly on grammar and reading. But we rarely speak English, so that was my biggest weakness. Moving to Boston, speaking in class and with my friends definitely helped me improve my speaking in English.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Probably the biggest challenge was adjusting to a new way for preparing for class. Here, I have to really study and learn the materials before going to class. That’s not something I’m used to doing. In Turkey, you could just go to the lecture first and read afterwards. There wasn’t a lot of pressure to prepare for class. Here, I spend most of my time preparing for class — and the way the professors teach, if you aren’t prepared for class it can be difficult to understand what is going on during class. So in a way this system is good for students because it forces you to study and not put everything off to right before the exam.

Best and worst things about living in Boston?

I really like how Boston isn’t too big, but is still a city. You can get around really easily and there are many beautiful places in and around the city. There are also a lot of students in Boston. So it feels very friendly to students and safe.

The worst thing about Boston is probably the cold, although it’s not that much different from Turkey.

Are you glad you chose the Two-Year LLM with the Legal English Certificate Program?

I’m really glad I decided to do the Two-Year LLM instead of just the one year Banking and Financial Law LLM. Now that I’m already three months into my second year, I realize that if I was only here for one year, which is really just 9 months, it wouldn’t be enough time. I’m glad I had a whole year to work on my legal English and all the skills I’d need for the second year. I feel a lot more prepared to brief cases, do outlines, and participate in class compared to my classmates who are in the one year program. It was also nice really getting to know people that first year in the Legal English Certificate Program. Since we had every class together, you really became close. So coming into the second year was a lot less scary having so many friends already. Also, it was really over the summer and this year that Boston has started to feel like home, like I really live here. Over the summer I had the chance to visit Niagara Falls, New York City, and Washington D.C., which was great. I also had family visit me in Boston, so I got to be a tour guide for them as well. I feel so comfortable in Boston and at the law school now, it will definitely be a sad day when I have to leave.

What’s next after graduation? 

Of course, first I have to make it to graduation! Then I will plan on returning to Turkey. As part of my sponsorship deal I have to work in my department for a couple more years. After that, I think I would like to go work at a law firm most likely. I’m certainly excited to see where the future takes me!

Junhee Circle Junhee Park

Program: Two-Year LLM with American Law
Home Country: South Korea

What made you want to pursue LLM studies in the US?

In January 2014, I heard a radio broadcast discussing poverty and conflicts in other countries, which made me want to work in an international organization that helps those who are marginalized in the world. This hope has been solidified through various certification classes and seminars I have taken. Through a number of global economics classes taken through the Green Growth Supporters seminar hosted by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I learned that working toward the growth and stability of the country’s industries and economy is relevant to justice. Also, I am interested in international environmental cases, including transnational environmental issues between the U.S. and Canada. Those kinds of issues, which are relevant to international economics and the environment, are critical matters we should be concerned with. I want to contribute to resolving those issues as a legal profession. I also feel that it is an essential part of learning about U.S. law and is best learned at an American law school, because Anglo-American law is applied in numerous international affairs.

How has the adjustment to Boston been for you and your family?

It was pretty easy, especially since I will be here with my family for two years. It gives us more time to adjust. I put my daughter in preschool near BU. In the beginning it was difficult for her because she didn’t understand anything, but she has really picked up English quickly. It has actually been quite easy for her to make friends.

How do you like Boston?

Boston is nice. The best parts are the Charles River, which is beautiful, as well as the museums, like the Children’s Museum, which my daughter loves. It’s also a great place to be because of all the good hospitals. Boston is also pretty close to very beautiful outdoor places in New Hampshire. But, Boston does have pretty long cold winters, which can be a little gloomy.

How was the first year of the Two-Year LLM in the Legal English Certificate Program?

It was good. I think my writing and speaking really improved, especially thanks to Legal English with Lynn Bonesteel.  I also really enjoy Donna Palermino’s Persuasive Legal Advocacy class. During the mock trial for that class I got to do a cross-examination, which was a really great experience. It was also very interesting to see how the jury system works.

Did you find the classroom experience very different from your classes in Korea?

Yes, very different. The Socratic method is not something we use in Korea. In Korea, it’s okay not to speak during class. Here, I got called on, but couldn’t answer. That failure was something I actually learned a lot from. I think the way of case law analysis in the U.S. is also very good for developing logical thinking.

What are your plans for the LLM year and beyond?

During the LLM year I will focus on classes and try to get involved as much as possible in the law school. Another priority for me is to try and get as much experience as possible. I’d like to eventually enter a JD or SJD program and continue my studies in the U.S.  Thanks to the constitutional law studies and persuasive writing assignments I have completed thus far, I now want to not only focus on international economics and environmental affairs, but also think deeply about the role of law and a lawyer in those complex issues.


Meet the Staff


Contact Us

Legal English Certificate Program
Boston University School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 904
Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Phone: 617-358-6162
Email: lecp@bu.edu


Additional Program Links

  • Tuition and Fees. Note that Two-Year LLM students will be charged the applicable tuition and fees for full-time LLM studies for both the Legal English Certificate Program and their LLM Program. Additional tuition and fees will be assessed for the required summer coursework: Pre LLM (EN026) or Financial Services Fundamentals.
  • Application Instructions. Our admissions page details how to submit the application and supporting documents.