LLM Program Is Opening Doors for Attorneys from China
“Law is the art about justice and kindness. It has depth and complexity; every court has two sides, and society is driven by multiple different forces,” states Ying (Nancy) Zhang, an LL.M. student from China.
The LL.M. program provides students who have studied law in a foreign country the opportunity to receive up to two years of exposure to the U.S. legal system. Each student has, at minimum, a bachelor’s in law and earns a masters in law for foreign-trained lawyers. The program is currently in its fourth year, and has so far graduated 30 students from 18 different countries. This year’s class features 18 students from 10 countries, and includes Qing Lyu, also from China, in addition to Zhang.
Before starting the LL.M. program, Zhang completed a bachelor’s degree at Zhengzhou University, where she received training to “think like a lawyer”, and a master’s degree at China University of Political Science and Law. She also had field experience, practicing corporate law at a local firm in Singapore for nearly four years.
When her husband relocated to the U.S. for work, it opened the door for Zhang to participate in the program.
Fellow student Lyu also left China to pursue education in America when her husband came to the States for work as well. “If you have a law degree in your country, and you know a little bit about American institutions, when you come back to my country, it’s very competitive for you to find a good job.” Although Lyu is not yet sure if they will return to China at some point, she does know that she wants to get work experience in America under her belt before they do.
Lyu also attended China University of Political Science and Law, but for her undergraduate education, where she studied both law and economics. For her graduate program, she went to Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, focusing on maritime law.
Similar to other LL.M. students, these women have noticed disparities between teaching styles here and in their home country, and both point to talking during class being the biggest one.
Lyu explained that professors will lecture, and although you can ask questions, it typically doesn’t happen. In the third year, students take classes that do allow them to talk a little bit, but note taking is still the major point of class. During her studies here, however, “We are asked to engage a lot. To ask questions, discuss with each other, or debate with professors-that’s very different.” Professors, and other students, are more open to questions here as well, and she feels that there is not such a stigma of asking a “dumb question.”
Zhang partially credited the factor of age for this phenomenon. While American law students hold some other type of degree, those in China do not necessarily have that. Law is open to younger students, meaning that they need to be told more of what the law is, and how it works, before they can reasonably be expected to make judgements about it.
This degree has also served as a reminder that looks can be deceiving. Although she researched what law school in America entailed, Zhang came to find out that actually doing it is different than imagining it. As taking class everyday in China was no problem, she didn’t understand why everyone said 17 credit hours would be too much. After delving into her classes, however, she realized that they were right. “When I’m really going through it, it’s like, Oh, okay, I really have a lot of homework. I actually need to read a lot before I come to school, I’m expected to talk in class, and I have to write a lot. I knew I would probably go through this, but actually doing it is a little bit different.”
Lyu felt similarly, originally deceived by social media posts. “I feel like it’s more challenging than I thought. A lot of my classmates came to the U.S. to study law, and they always post pictures of a lot of interesting things, like parties, and they travel a lot...I feel like I don’t have time for that. Basically, I study in the library, I prepare for class, I go home to sleep, and that’s my life.”
Although there are not as many international students, specifically those from China, at UC as opposed to many other law schools, Lyu views this as a benefit. “It forces you to talk with Americans or people from different countries, which also helps you improve your english skills. It’s kind of common if you have a lot of Chinese here that you just talk with them. You discuss with them about the class, or anything, so I think it’s beneficial for me not to have that.”
After LL.M. graduation, Zhang hopes to continue practicing corporate law, similar to what she was doing before, but to stay in the U.S.
Lyu isn’t sure where she will end up. If she remains stateside, she wishes to become a lawyer. However, upon return to China, her goal is to become a judge. Although that’s often one’s final job in America, it is not the same in her home country. After graduation, many of her classmates became clerks, in pursuit of eventually becoming a judge, saying, “In our country, we want to work for the government.”
Wherever they end up, both women are extremely happy to be a part of the program, and grateful for the opportunity to learn from skilled professors who care. As Zhang put it, “It is a privilege to be back to school at this time of my life.”
Author: Michelle Flanagan '18, UC Honors Student
Prof. Sandra Sperino Gives Talk on First Generation Discrimination
Prof. Sandra Sperino gave a talk titled "First Generation Discrimination" at the conference, The Present and Future of Civil Rights Movements: Race and Reform in 21st Century America. The conference was hosted by Duke Law School's Center on Law, Race and Politics on November 20-21, 2015.
College of Law and Arts and Sciences Partner; Students can Earn Dual Degrees in Shorter Time
Undergraduate students who plan to attend law school can now participate in the 3+3 Law Program, a new partnership enabling them to earn both a bachelor’s and law degree in six years.
Cincinnati, OH—Things just got more streamlined for students aiming to attend law school after their undergraduate education.
Thanks to a new partnership between the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students majoring in Political Science, International Affairs, History, Philosophy, English, or Communications will be eligible for the new 3+3 program.
The University of Cincinnati 3 + 3 Law Program allows eligible undergraduates at University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences to earn a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in just six years, saving a year of tuition and time over the traditional path to becoming a lawyer. Students admitted to the University of Cincinnati College of Law under the program will complete their bachelor’s degree while simultaneously completing the first year of law school.
“The 3+3 Program is an exciting opportunity for undergraduates who know they have a strong interest in law school and want to get an early start on getting to know what it will be like,” said College of Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard. “We will be including the 3+3 students in events and lectures and also encourage them to enroll in the classes taught by our faculty that will be available to all undergraduates.”
Recent accolades from National Jurist, including being named a Best Value Law School, along with bar passage results well above the state average, are simply additional reasons students should consider the College of Law and take advantage of this opportunity.
“Our new 3+3 partnership with the College of Law will save Pre-Law students a year of tuition.” said McMicken College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ken Petren. “Each student will have a team of advisers so they are ready to apply to law school at the end of their junior year. We’ve chatted with prospective students about this opportunity, and the response has been very positive.”
Currently, the partnership is limited to UC students in specific majors within the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
How Do Students Sign Up?
To apply, students must be in their junior year of one of the eligible programs, have completed the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and submit an application to the law school. Application to the 3+3 program does not guarantee admission; rather, candidates will be considered alongside the school’s regular pool of applicants.
Students who are interested in this program and already attending UC are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Pre-Professional Advising Center to find out more about the 3+3 program, as well as schedule a meeting with their department academic advisor to ensure that they can meet all undergraduate major requirements.
Because bachelor’s degree completion and the first year of law school will be happening simultaneously, students will be considered a full-time law student during the fourth year and will pay law school tuition. University scholarships and financial aid may still be available.
To learn more visit: http://www.law.uc.edu/3plus3admissions
First-year Student Tyler Spanyer Talks About His Decision to Attend UC Law
“I chose UC Law because it was where I felt most comfortable. They welcomed me with open arms and promised me that from the moment I walked in the door, to the day I walked across the stage, I would get the best practical legal education I could hope for. The Open House was important for me because I had only lived in Lexington, KY, and seeing UC first-hand was instrumental in my decision-making process. At the Open House, I had the opportunity to meet faculty, staff, and some of the students I now call classmates, all while getting the feel for what UC Law was all about.”
Professor Janet Moore Presents Work at Loyola-Chicago
Professor Janet Moore presented Participatory Constitutionalism at the Loyola-Chicago Law School's Constitutional Law Colloquium on November 6, 2015.
College of Law Reports Strong Bar Passage Results
Kevin Flynn, recent graduate, is hooded
by his father, ’87 UC Law graduate Kevin R. Flynn.
Law School Beats State Average and ranks second in Ohio as 88 % of First-Time Takers
Pass the July 2015 Ohio Bar Exam
Cincinnati, OH—Three years of coursework, thousands of study hours, and hundreds of hours of legal work experience all come together three days in July when law school graduates from across the state and beyond sit for the Ohio Bar Examination. Today, the results of the July 2015 Bar Exam were released and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, ranked an A level “Best Value Law School” by The National Jurist, recorded an 88 percent passage rate for first-time takers, second among Ohio law schools. This rate exceeds the state-wide average passing rate of 80 percent.
The overall passage rate for College of Law’s takers is 87 percent, second among Ohio law schools. It is almost 13 percent higher than the state-wide average rate of 74.5 percent.
Out-of-state results are just as strong. For those jurisdictions that have released their outcomes, Class of 2015 results represent a 87.5 percent pass rate, including a 100 percent pass rate in Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin.
“We’re excited about the results of the July bar exam and very proud of our students. Their hard work has paid off,” said Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law. “They have represented our school, their families, themselves and the community with distinction. We look forward to celebrating with them during the swearing ceremony in Columbus and supporting them as they continue their careers.”
She continued, “Although in the end each student’s bar preparation is one of individual effort, much credit goes to the faculty and staff who have developed a curriculum that both prepares students to pass this specific test and excel as lawyers.”
Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court’s other requirements for admission will be admitted on Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, OH. The session will be streamed live via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org. It will also be available statewide on the Ohio Channel’s local public broadcasting stations.
Other Cincinnati Law News
From the Seminary to Law School, Zack Weber Shares How It All Connects
Cincinnati native and first-year law student Zack Weber spent his time following high school on a unique and diverse path exploring different areas of interest that fit his personal and professional motivations. From his early studies in the seminary to seven-years of professional experience, Weber has found that his desire to make a difference in the lives of others has been a strong motivating factor throughout his professional journey and has inspired him to pursue a career in the legal field.
“It’s been a bit of a round about path here,” he teased.
Weber expressed that his interest in the seminary started around his sophomore year in high school. After graduating from local Cincinnati school Elder, he did not pursue that line of study initially, but instead began his undergraduate study in Engineering at the University of Dayton.
“Engineering was actually an interest of mine in high school as well so I wanted to give that a shot, you know a fair shot first before deciding to start with seminary.”
But it wasn't long until Weber decided to start his seminary journey. After his first year at UD he decided to transfer to the Pontifical College of Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, where he received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy in addition to his early priesthood training. Following his studies at Josephinum, Weber continued on in the seminary and traveled over 4,000 miles to Rome, Italy for graduate studies in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
“I was [at the Gregorian] a total of four academic years. Although in-between my third and fourth year of studies I actually did an internship back here in the States with a parish in Hamilton, Ohio where I was helping out with different parish functions. I couldn’t say mass or anything like that but I was helping out with the school, with their parish counsel, and with anything else I could without being a priest at that point,” Weber shared.
After returning from Italy, he ultimately decided to not be ordained a priest. Around that time, Weber recalled, a good friend who also left the seminary had gone directly into law school. And about five or six of his friends from seminary were likewise taking the law school path.
“I always thought that was kind of curious, ‘what’s the connection?’” Weber questioned, and through conversations with his friends, who are now practicing attorneys, noticed there were many parallels between the two professions that he could identify with.
“It kind of struck a chord with me. I think the idea of being in seminary and wanting to be a priest has a lot of commonality with wanting to be a lawyer. I think in both arenas you have a great ability to help people, albeit in different ways; and while many priests want to help people in a spiritual way, the ideas of truth and justice, I think, carry over into both places.”
This desire to pursue law school prompted Weber to take the LSAT in 2007, but he determined at that particular time law school wasn’t the best decision. So he started out his career in retail and customer service, sharpening his communication and interpersonal skills. After his return from Italy, Weber began working at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza as a front office assistant manager, before later moving into a position at Nordstrom. Most recently, he was the manager for the Art of Shaving, a retail store that sells a men’s luxury grooming line. Weber opened the store in 2012 and was the general manager for three years before he left this summer for law school.
He commented, “I think my desire professionally has always been to make a substantial difference in people’s lives. And I think that was my initial desire when I thought I wanted to be a priest. And I think it's still my deep desire now. Which, you know in retail you can make a difference but I don’t think it was the kind of difference I was looking for.”
Now as first year law student and Fellow with the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, Weber endeavors to explore different areas of law to be able to pursue that goal of making a substantial difference in people’s lives. With UC Law being at the top of his list, Weber noted that the Center was one of the major factors in making UC Law his final decision.
“Social justice has always been a major interest of mine, probably from the time I was in grade school. I remember wanting to get involved in community service type activities. I actually did a 10-week mission trip and volunteered at Catholic youth camps and stuff like that in college. So I’ve always been trying to commit myself, to give my energy, my abilities, and my skills to help people in whatever position they are in in life.”
Weber admits that his specific career goals are not fine-tuned at this moment, but he is looking forward to exploring different areas of law where he can tie-in his interest for social justice.
“I think that the idea of social justice can be found pretty much at any level. You know whether you’re in a business, whether you’re in small practice or public interest, you can really carry that out in any area… But I’m keeping my mind really open. I do want to spend some time both in the public and private sector before I make a decision. That’s a pretty broad generalization, but it’s a starting point.”
By: Sarah Nelson’17
UC Law’s LLM Program Gives Students Training, Experience and Inspiration
Like other legal professionals from around the world, three new UC College of Law students came to the United States for advanced training and, just as importantly, inspiration.
“Studying law in the U.S. is like magic. It’s so difficult,” states Frinwi Gwenelyne Achu, an LL.M. student from Cameroon.
In addition to Achu, this year’s LL.M. class features two other students from Africa: Arnold Agaba and Amanda Arigaba, both from Uganda. The LL.M. program provides students who have studied law in a foreign country the opportunity to receive up to two years of exposure to the U.S. legal system. Each student has, at minimum, a bachelor’s in law and earns a masters in law for foreign-trained lawyers. The program is currently in its fourth year, and has so far graduated 30 students from 18 different countries. This year’s class features 18 students from 10 countries.
Achu attended University of Buea Cameroon, the first Anglo-Saxon University in that nation. Agaba studied at Uganda Christian University, which he describes as young and vibrant. Arigaba attended two schools in Kampala, the capital of Uganda; she earned her undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree at Makerere University and her diploma in Human Rights at the Law Development Centre.
While the students have adjusted their lives, time zones and learning methods, all three say their experiences here have been overwhelmingly positive. However, each student was motivated to study law in America for different reasons, and each has different end goals upon returning to their home countries.
Arigaba has wanted to be a lawyer since she can remember. With parents who were lawyers, she was “always in awe of my father’s choice of syntax and vast knowledge of everything...something I attributed to his profession,” she said.
She would watch or read the news, hoping to understand conversations he had with other adults. Her mother she viewed as a superwoman who juggled being a mother and a lawyer “flawlessly.”
Achu and Agaba both looked to law because of its integral role in society and job opportunities available after legal training. Agaba was driven by his desire to influence rule-change and thinking in his community in Uganda; Achu wants to combat disparities.
To fulfill their career wishes, though, they knew they needed to look to the West, specifically, to America.
Universities across the globe look to the U.S. as the ideal for building legal expertise. Studying in any foreign country gives students chances to understand their subjects on larger scales, something particularly valuable to employers. Studying in the country that sets standards, however, is even more enticing.
“Why did I choose the greatest country in the world?” Agaba asked. After a pause, he explained that America is viewed as the leader, a place where “development is real and the lives of the people in that country are bettered by its government on a daily basis.”
Arigaba agreed, saying that she chose to study here because of the America’s “admirable“ legal evolution.
Teaching methods have been one of the toughest things to adjust to, the students said. Precedent cases differ from country to country, meaning that even if concepts are the same, applicability is not. Students in America are highly encouraged to have a robust understanding of cases, to push boundaries and to engage in conversations and establish relationships with professors and other faculty members, which is not the case in every country.
“You may go through law school without ever having a personal relationship with an instructor,” said Agaba of legal education in Uganda, “which, I think, is terrible because you can’t better someone’s life at a distance. It has to be personal.”
Networking with faculty, area professionals and other students has been a priority for the LL.M. students. Arigaba has enjoyed conferences featuring renowned or acclaimed individuals who share their knowledge with students. “They put into context a lot of what is delivered in the classroom walls and are very inspiring considering their accolades, a reminder of how much work there is to be done and how much I can achieve.”
Achu experienced the same kind of awe when visiting a local law firm that employs 200 lawyers. The largest firm in Cameroon has 10.
Networking helps keep career goals at the front of the students’ minds, and upon completion of the LL.M. program, each has distinct plans.
Achu wants to work toward creating her own company encouraging foreign investments in Cameroon, where eight of 10 regions speak French, while the other two speak English. Because business laws conflict between the two types, many companies do not expand, which leads to disparities between communities.
Foreign investments, Achu said, will impact citizens’ lives by expanding opportunities in the country rich in natural resources. “I know if I create good contacts and connections with people, we’ll be able to get a forum where we work out a partnership,” she said. “We [Cameroon] have the materials, we send it to you, and it’s going to help you.”
Agaba would rather teach than practice law. “Teaching offers me the opportunity to change mindsets, to show people different experiences, rather than simply solving one problem of theirs. I could change the mindset of various people, and lawyers are a big part of social change. So, if you influence a lawyer, you can influence a greater part of the society.”
Arigaba is particularly interested in human rights and foreign affairs. She describes herself as appreciating hard work and service, and wants to see and impact change among the entire nation. “I have the mind and attitude of service, and I will go wherever I am needed,” she said. Studying in a foreign nation with other international students has also provided opportunities to understand other cultures and ways of doing things. Students leave with new skills and knowledge that they can integrate in their home country.
“You don’t just walk away with a masters degree,” Agaba said. “You walk away with a new lifestyle, a new mindset, with actual change. The person who came here in August is not the same person who is leaving. He is better in various ways. But in meaningful ways.”
First-Year Students Win the College of Law ABA Negotiation Competition
First-year students win the College of Law ABA Negotiation Competition. The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Club, which promotes negotiation and dispute resolution activities, hosted a competition to determine which students will represent the University of Cincinnati at the American Bar Association Negotiation Competition. Two teams – David Lopez and Ben White as well as Meg Franklin and Melissa Springer – will represent the College at the ABA Regional Competition in November which will be held at Nothwestern Law School. Twelve teams participated and were judged by local attorneys. Students are coached by Professor Marjorie Aaron and James K. Lawrence, Esq., an Adjunct Faculty member.
LLM Focus: Adele Sentuc
In 2014, French native Adéle Sentuc obtained her Spanish and French Law degrees from the Complutense Law School and Panthéon Sorbonne Law School, respectively. Shortly after completion of her dual-law degree, Sentuc decided to continue her education at the Sorbonne, in pursuit of a Masters degree focusing on food and agriculture. Now, to advance her education one step further, Sentuc has joined UC Law’s new LLM class and is excited to diversify her skill set to advance her career opportunities in the area of food and agriculture law.
As an LLM student, Sentuc hopes to develop and perfect her English speaking and writing skills, gain a deeper understanding of American law, and network with people in the food and agriculture industry. Sentuc has found the LLM program, and the UC Law community to be very receptive to her goals.
“That’s something we don’t have in France. Professors here, from what I’ve seen, they’re interested in students. They know your names, they know what you’re interested in, and if they can help you with something they will help you."
This semester Sentuc is scheduled to take courses in Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, Legal Writing, and US Legal Studies, and is looking forward to completing a research assignment for Food and Agricultural Law.
Early interest in the study of Food and Agriculture stems from accompanying her mother on various Humanitarian trips to Africa, doing related humanitarian work that led Sentuc to really assess issues surrounding the availability and the quality of food in different parts of the world.
“At the beginning [my interest in food and agriculture] was about the availability of food. But when I entered the Masters program I discovered it was not just that problem, but also the quality of food, and I saw that there were so many more things that I wanted to be involved with.”
Before coming to UC, as part of her Master’s degree, Sentuc interned with the Spanish Embassy in its Food and Agriculture Department. After completing her LLM degree, Sentuc hopes to return to the Food and Agriculture industry and work on related issues at an international level.
“I think food issues right now are international and that something needs to be done to eradicate hunger. But if you want to work for a big law firm or a big company in Europe you have to be able to speak and write in English. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to write in English and have legal-English skills. That’s why I wanted to come here.”
Sentuc explained that English language skills are a requirement for many positions in Europe, and believes the LLM program “will be a plus in [her] resume because everyone says [in Europe] they ‘speak’ English” so having studied in America will help her stand out from other applicants.
“I’m sure I’ll grow up a lot from this,” Sentuc commented, noting that it was difficult at first to make the decision to come to America. “There were months where I was crying every day thinking, ‘what am I doing? Should I leave my house and my family? Am I going to be missing opportunities?’ But then I really thought about it and said, ‘this could be really positive for me.’ Not only professionally, but also personally."
Sentuc plans to utilize the resources and opportunities through the LLM program to better focus her interest in Food and Agriculture and specify which areas in that field she would like to take her career. Hopefully “with the LLM program I will get to know people [in the food and agriculture field] to tell me about their experiences and be able to find that specific path.”