2009 Archive

Berkeley Law Launches Inaugural Summer LL.M. Program

By Andrew Cohen

With the upcoming debut of its Summer LL.M. Program, Berkeley Law is traveling where few American law schools have journeyed before. On May 22, the school welcomes 20 students from 13 countries who will pursue their Master of Laws degree over the course of two summers on campus.

“It’s a very unique program that we think will appeal to many international law students,” says Andrew Guzman, director of Berkeley Law’s advanced law degree programs. “There’s a fantastic demand for LL.M. programs in the United States, and this increases our capacity to deliver that. We have many more qualified applicants than we admit, so this opens the door a bit further for them.”

Berkeley Law summer LL.M. students will earn their degree through an accelerated program that spans two consecutive summer sessions of 10 weeks each. This marks a new alternative to the school’s existing LL.M. program, which takes place during the standard nine-month academic year. The only remotely similar program among U.S. law schools exists at UC Davis, which offers a part-time program in International Commercial Law taken over several six-week summer sessions.

“This option is ideal for foreign-educated lawyers who’d prefer not to leave their jobs or families for a single nine-month stretch,” says Guzman. “If you’re a lawyer, it’s probably easier to get time off over two summers rather than almost a whole year.”

During this first summer session, students will take Contracts, Civil Procedure, and either Introduction to Intellectual Property or Corporations—one at a time for a bit more than three weeks each—as well as Introduction to U.S. Law for the full 10 weeks.

During the second summer, students will take Legal Writing and Research, Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility, and one of four electives: Introduction to Intellectual Property, an advanced IP course, Corporations, or an advanced business law course. Summer LL.M. graduates will be eligible to take both the California and New York Bar exams.
Although Guzman admits that “working from scratch” had its challenges, the idea for a summer LL.M. program “seemed completely workable, and Dean Edley was most enthusiastic.” Now, the priority is to spread the word about the program among foreign law students.

The summer program should be an appealing choice in Europe, where students often take an additional year of coursework after obtaining their degree. As a result, they could take part in Berkeley Law’s new program during the summer after earning their law degree—and the summer after their year of post-graduate study—before starting work that next fall.

“In time, we’d like to get to about 50 students each year,” says Guzman. “We’re happy to have 20 for this first summer, given that nobody knew about the program. Students don’t look for summer LL.M. programs because there aren’t any others, but now that’ll begin to change.”