Six Years and Growing: An update on the LLM Program
Six years ago, the College of Law launched its first master’s degree program, the LLM in the US Legal System. It is a program for students who have earned a law degree outside of the United States and now seek graduate level education in in US law.
Nora Burke Wagner, Assistant Dean for International Student Programs and LLM Director, sat down with Updates to discuss the program’s first years, the successes of graduates, and its future.
Q: How has the LLM Program developed over the last six years?
A: We had imagined a diverse program that would bring many different backgrounds and perspectives to the College of Law—both in and out of classes. We’ve definitely been successful in this area. We’ve brought the world to UC Law.
The first year, we started with five or six students, and the growth has been steady. Since then, we’ve enrolled 60 students from 28 different countries, so we’ve actually exceeded our own expectations. Moving forward, we’re turning our attention to the Middle East and looking at firming up partnerships in Africa, which will open doors to many more international attorneys.
Q: How does the program collaborate with other universities?
A: We have at least a half dozen partner universities in a wide variety of countries, and we’re working on creating additional partnerships. We’re already seeing new opportunities opening for law students in terms of travel and overseas internships.
We’re also seeing new opportunities for faculty. They’ve been able to teach abroad and conduct research at partner universities. For example, Professor Jennifer Bergeron delivered a lecture on the innocence movement at the University of Graz in Austria earlier this year. Professor Lynn Bai gave a series of lectures on US business law topics at the University of Lorraine in France. And, Professor Marjorie Aaron had the opportunity to lecture at the University of Bordeaux, one of the top universities in France. (Professor Ronna Schneider will be lecturing there this fall.)
Professor Ildiko Szegedy-Maszak from Javeriana University, a very highly regarded university in Bogotá, Colombia, taught international trade to our students this year. She also lectured to the broader legal and business communities.
We’ve been able to launch our first dual-degree program with Javeriana University. This arrangement allows students who are in the fifth and final year of their bachelor’s of law program to come here and spend one year also earning their LLM. I’m excited to share that this year we have our first students from Javeriana. It’s great for our LLM program, because it brings several highly qualified students in each year, and hailing from Latin America, they further broaden our diversity. It is particularly exciting and promising given the existing business relationships between Cincinnati and Bogotá.
Q: What sorts of places are alumni of the LLM program now?
A: Students come to us with wide ranging goals, so unsurprisingly, their lives and careers after graduation run the gamut. We’ve had students from Africa who return home to pursue careers in academia. We’ve had students who stayed in North America and are pursuing additional degrees, both here and in Canada. We’ve also had students from Europe and the Middle East who have returned home and landed dream jobs with big companies or teaching.
We also have graduates working in Cincinnati area law offices. We think we’ll see more of this as the local legal community meets and gets to know our students. LLM students are attorneys in their home countries. Many of them have wide-ranging professional experiences. If you find yourself in need of technical language or cultural expertise, let us connect you with one of them.
Q: What are some plans for future development and growth?
A: Every year our recent graduates are helping us forge new networks, establish new contacts, reach out to new sets of students, and create new relationships with additional universities. Because of them we have a whole new set of opportunities, allowing us to grow not only in terms of our general international work and partnership opportunities , but also our recruitment efforts.
It’s hard to say exactly what the next six years will have in store, but if the last six are any indication, we know there’s always a host of opportunities right around the corner.