Supplemental Academic Rules for Traditional and Thesis Track LL.M. Students

Please note that all students are subject to the Academic Rules of Berkeley Law, which are available on the Registrar’s website. The following are academic rules specific to the LL.M. degree program. This document should be read in conjunction with the Academic Rules.

I. Traditional & Thesis Track Degree Requirements

A. Requirements for the LL.M. Degree (Traditional & Thesis Track)

(a) Units Requirement
All traditional track and thesis track students must complete a minimum total of 21 units for the LL.M. degree.

(b)Required Coursework

(1) Required Coursework for Foreign-Trained LL.M. Students

All foreign-trained LL.M. students must:
a. Complete the 3-unit Fundamentals of U.S. Law class (fall semester); and
b. Complete the 2-unit Legal Research and Writing class (fall semester).

LRW Waiver Requests: Students may request to take the Legal Research and Writing waiver exam if they meet one of the following criteria: (1) earned a law degree from a university in which the course of study involved common law principles and was taught in English (documented by a transcript); (2) completed a course in common law legal writing, taught in English (documented by a transcript, certificate, or official written proof of successful course completion from the institution); or (3) completed work experience of at least one year that involved frequent common law legal writing in English (documented by a letter from a supervisor). Students may request to take the waiver exam by emailing the Director of LL.M. Legal Research and Writing. All waiver requests must be submitted by the first day of Fundamentals of U.S. Law.

The Director of LL.M. Legal Research and Writing shall administer a legal analysis and writing exam for all petitioners who have submitted timely and complete waiver requests, including all required documentation, and shall waive the course requirement only for those petitioners demonstrating mastery of the exam as determined by the Director. Those students who are granted a waiver for Legal Research and Writing must fulfill the Capstone Writing Requirement by completing a paper of a minimum 15 pages in length in any class or through an independent study (Law 299), and submit an LL.M. Capstone Writing Requirement Fulfillment form to the Registrar’s office prior to the spring semester Add/Drop Deadline. Students who plan to take a Bar Exam should be aware that the Legal Research and Writing class may be required to register for the bar in certain states.

(2) Required Coursework for U.S. or Canadian-trained Students with a J.D. in Common Law

All LL.M. students holding a J.D. from a U.S. or Canadian law school (common law course of study) must fulfill the LL.M. Capstone Writing Requirement by completing a paper of a minimum 15 pages in length in any class or through an independent study (Law 299), and submit an LL.M. Capstone Writing Requirement Fulfillment form to the Registrar’s office prior to the spring semester Add/Drop Deadline.

(3) Additional Coursework Required for Thesis Track Students

Thesis Track students must complete the coursework requirements described above in Section I.A.(b)(1) or (2), as applicable, and must additionally:

a. Complete six units of Thesis Track Independent Study, completed in one of two ways:
(i) two units of 325A in the fall semester, followed by 4 units of 325B in the spring semester; or
(ii) six units of 325AB taken during the spring semester

b. Complete an original thesis in the form of a substantial research and writing project that is of publishable quality and roughly 50-60 double-spaced pages. The thesis paper is due by the last day of instruction in the spring semester.

Thesis track LL.M. students may not register for 325A, 325B, or 325AB units without the signature of the faculty advisor supervising their academic study. The signed petition to add 325A, 325B, or 325AB units will not be accepted after the applicable semester’s Add/Drop deadline.

(c) LL.M. Coursework Limitations
Traditional track and thesis track LL.M. students may earn units of credit as provided in Section I.A.(b), subject to the following specific limitations and requirements.

(1) Coursework that may count toward the Traditional Track LL.M. degree includes:

a. A maximum of two units for participating in a maximum of one independent research and writing project (Law 299);
b. A maximum of two units for participation in a maximum of one group research and writing project (Law 298)
c. A maximum total of one unit for participation in a journal (Law 295.1, 295.2);
d. Practica, practice projects, or field placements in which the work of the student is supervised by a faculty member at the Law School, including units earned through a seminar course associated with a practicum or field placement.

(2) Coursework that may count toward the Thesis Track LL.M. degree includes:

a. A maximum of two units for participation in a maximum of one group research and writing project (Law 298);
b. A maximum total of one unit for participation in a journal (Law 295.1, 295.2);
c. Practica, practice projects, or field placements in which the work of the student is supervised by a faculty member at the Law School, including units earned through a seminar course associated with a practicum or field placement.

(3) Coursework that does not count toward the LL.M. degree includes:

a. Individual research projects (Law 297);
b. Teaching pedagogy coursework (Law 275P);
c. Courses taken outside of the Law School (non-law units);
d. Practica, practice projects, or field placements in which the work of the student is not supervised primarily by a faculty member at the Law School.

(d) Academic Honor Code Violations
All students are subject to the Academic Honor Code, attached to this document as Appendix A. Students who violate the Academic Honor Code in their coursework will receive a failing grade in the course, and the violation may be reported to the State Bar authorities, as provided in Section HC 2 of Appendix A.

II. Traditional & Thesis Track Program Requirements

A. Program Duration/Residency Requirement

All students must enroll in courses for two academic year semesters. All program requirements and coursework must be completed within three years of starting the program.

B. Minimum/Maximum Course Load

All students must take a minimum of 10 units and a maximum of 16 units per semester. Students may submit an Academic Rules Petition to take an overload of 17 units, or an underload of nine units per semester. The petition must be approved by the Advanced Degree Programs Office and the Dean of Students before a student can take an overload or underload.

C. Overlapping Courses

Students may not under any circumstances enroll in courses with overlapping times.

D. Add/Drop Deadlines

Students may drop a course by no later than the date set by the Registrar’s Office (usually the second week of classes). After that drop deadline, students who wish to drop a class must do so by petition, which must be approved by the Dean of Students. The instructor’s approval is also required if the student seeks to drop a class after the drop deadline. The instructor, with the approval of the Dean, may establish in advance a different time for withdrawal.

Students may add a law school course to their programs by the date set by the Registrar’s Office (usually the second week of classes) After that add deadline, students who wish to add a class must do so by petition, which must be approved by the Dean of Students, and signed by the instructor.

E. Class Attendance
In accordance with American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation standards, Berkeley Law requires regular and punctual class attendance in order to receive course credit. To meet these standards, students may not enroll in courses that have overlapping meeting times. Further, instructors have the discretion to announce more specific and/or restrictive attendance requirements than this at the beginning of the semester.

When, in the opinion of an instructor, a student enrolled in his or her course has failed to make a good faith effort at regular and punctual class attendance and, after reasonable warning and opportunity to make up and/or correct the deficiencies, continues to fail to make a good faith effort, the instructor may, in his or her discretion, take one of the following steps:

  • request (in agreement with the Dean of Students) that the student be dropped from the class;
  • reduce the student’s final grade; or
  • assign the student a final grade of NC or NP.

III. Traditional & Thesis Track Withdrawal and Readmission Policy

Notwithstanding Rule 20.3 of the Academic Rules, traditional track and thesis track LL.M. students may elect to withdraw for any reason. Such leaves may not be taken more than once at the election of the student. A student may apply to the Dean of Students to withdraw for a second time, but such withdrawals will only be granted based upon a demonstration of exceptional circumstances by the student. Students who leave the Law School after a second voluntary leave must re-apply to the Law School as new LL.M. applicants to the Law School. A student who withdraws during the fall semester is only eligible to return the following fall semester. If a student withdraws after finals in the fall semester without completing all fall degree requirements, the student may only return in a fall semester. Under no circumstances may an LL.M. student who has withdrawn be readmitted to the Law School after three years from the start of the semester in which he or she began.

IV. Traditional & Thesis Track Grading

A. Grade Designations

Students will receive one of the following grades for completed work:

  1. An honors grade, which may be High Honors (HH) or Honors (H).
  2. A Pass grade (P).
  3. A Substandard Pass grade (PC), showing that while credit has been obtained, the work is of low quality.
  4. A failing grade (NC) showing that no credit is earned for the course.
  5. Courses graded Credit/No Pass will receive either a Credit (CR) or a No Pass (NP).

Students who violate the Academic Honor Code will receive a failing grade in the course and the Academic Honor Code violation will be reported to the Bar. Additional consequences may be imposed by the campus Office of Student Conduct

B. Grading Curve for LL.M. Students
A mandatory curve applies to all classes and seminars with 11 or more LL.M. students such that 20% of the students receive HHs, 30% receive Hs, and 50% receive Ps. The same curve is recommended for classes and seminars with 10 or fewer LL.M. students. A professor may always award a Pass-Conditional or No-Credit if the professor believes that is the appropriate grade for a student.

V. Traditional & Thesis Track Academic Disqualification Policy

A. Bases of Probation and Disqualification

(a) Probation

An LL.M. student who fails one class or receives Substandard Pass designations for 30% of his or her total grades or units after the Fall semester shall be subject to conditions of probation as the Dean of Students may impose for the Spring semester immediately following the semester in which the grades were earned.

(b) Disqualification

If at any time an LL.M. student has ten units of No Credit grades currently on their record, or if at the end of an academic year an LL.M. student has received Substandard designations and No Credit grades either for 40% of their total grades or for 40% of their total units, then the student shall be disqualified.

Disqualification means that your enrollment in classes in the current semester is cancelled and you cannot progress in your degree.

A student who is disqualified can appeal that disqualification to the Disqualification Appeals Committee. If the student convincingly demonstrates that his or her record resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control and that he or she can and probably will do proficient law school work in the future, the Committee may, in its discretion, recommend to the Dean of the Law School that the student be readmitted and allowed to continue in law school subject to such conditions of probation as the Dean of the Law School may impose.

(Note: A demonstration to the Disqualification Appeals Committee will normally have to include a showing by the student that he or she had made a conscientious, diligent effort to take full advantage of his or her educational opportunities. Among the factors that may be considered adverse to this showing are: absence from class; unpreparedness in class; failure to consult with professors as to the student’s examination papers; lack of participation in practice exams and in remedial programs recommended by the Dean; and involvement in time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Lack of participation in tutorial programs shall not be taken as adverse to this showing.)

(c) Calculations

In determining the numerator of the percentages referred to in Section V.A.(a)-(b), grades of HH or H will offset Substandard designations; and in determining the denominator, “Credit” grades and grades given in non-law school courses will be excluded. Similarly, grades of HH or H will offset substandard designations.

B. Appeal from Disqualification
A student may appeal his or her disqualification to the Disqualification Appeals Committee, seeking readmission, or may appeal the terms of probation imposed by the Dean under Rule 15.1 of the Academic Rules. The Committee will make a recommendation to the Dean of the Law School regarding each disqualification appeal and the decision of the Dean of the Law School will be final on all appeals.

(a) Disqualification Appeals Committee
The Dean will appoint a Disqualification Appeals Committee consisting of three faculty members to serve as a standing committee for processing appeals. To the extent feasible, at least one faculty member of the Committee should have served on the Committee in the preceding year. The Committee will also include a student, who must be at the time of his or her appointment a second-year student in good academic standing. The student will be appointed by the Student Association of Berkeley Law (SABL), will serve only with the consent of the appealing student, and will participate in hearing appeals in a nonvoting, advisory capacity. Notice of disqualification will include notice of the right of appeals provided herein and of the Committee’s composition.

(b) Challenges
The student whose appeal is being heard may challenge any faculty member of the Committee for cause, any such challenge to be determined by the Dean, and the student will also have one peremptory challenge. The student must file any challenge with the Dean no later than three calendar days after he or she has filed his or her appeal. In the event of a successful challenge for cause or a peremptory challenge, the Dean shall appoint a faculty member or members as necessary to constitute the Committee, for the purpose of hearing that appeal. In addition, if a member of the Committee has given an appealing student a substandard designation or a grade of No Credit, he or she need not participate in the hearing and decision on the appeal, and the student may object to his or her participation in the manner provided above. In either event the Dean will appoint a new member of the Committee for the purpose of hearing that appeal.

(c) Evidence
The Committee may review evidence that includes the student’s own presentation, the student’s file, and any other relevant submissions, including witnesses when necessary.

(d) Representation
A student has the right to be represented during the disqualification appeal process and during an appeal on the terms of probation.

(e) Written Explanation
Following the hearing the Committee will submit to the Dean a written explanation of its recommendation.

(f) Notification
Following an adverse decision on appeal from disqualification, the student will be notified in writing of the Dean of the Law School’s decision.

Appendix A: Law School Academic Honor Code

HC 1 In General

The Honor Code is a tradition at Berkeley Law. Students who are preparing to enter the legal profession are expected to exhibit the same qualities of honesty, responsibility, and respect for the rights of others that are demanded of members of the Bar. The Honor Code governs the conduct of students during examinations and in all other academic and pre-professional activities at Berkeley Law. In addition, students are bound by the Campus Rules of Student Conduct, which govern matters such as dishonesty, forgery and sexual harassment.

Primary responsibility for respecting the appropriate rules rests with each individual student and with the student body as a whole. Students, faculty and staff are urged to bring apparent violations to the attention of the Instructor and/or the Dean. The Honor Code can be successful only to the extent that it is seen to have the overwhelming support of student and faculty opinion and to be taken seriously by everyone.

HC 2 Enforcement Procedure

A student, faculty, or staff member witnessing any violation or apparent violation of this Code should bring the matter to the attention of the Dean of Students. After discussion with the alleged violator, the instructor, and other affected or knowledgeable persons, the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designated representative) shall determine if informal resolution of the matter is appropriate. If informal resolution is inappropriate, or if the person accused of a violation does not agree to the resolution, the Dean of Students shall refer the matter to the Campus Center for Student Conduct for appropriate action under the disciplinary rules and procedures of the Berkeley Campus. Informal resolutions may be reported to the Campus Student Conduct Office as needed for their purposes. The Dean of Students also has the responsibility to decide whether information pertaining to violations is relevant to Bar admissions standards and must be reported to the appropriate State Bar authorities. If this is done, the Dean of Students shall send a copy, or notice of such report, to the student so reported.

HC 3 Examinations and Other Academic Activities

The basic guide for a student taking an examination or participating in any other academic activity is a sense of honesty and integrity. Students are expected to rely on their own knowledge and ability, and not use unauthorized materials or represent the work of others as their own. These standards apply also to papers, oral presentations; work in clinical programs, or other activities for which academic credit is assigned, except where the instructor provides otherwise. Examinations at Berkeley Law usually are not monitored, and “take-home” examinations are often employed. Students should be scrupulously careful not to consult materials except as permitted by the rules of the particular examination, not to obtain or receive unauthorized help, and not to continue writing after time has been called. Students who are allowed to take an examination either before or after the normal date should not give or obtain any information about the content of the examination. Because examinations at Berkeley Law are generally graded on the curve system, violations of the letter or the spirit of the rules are violations of the rights of other students, as well as of the standards of integrity required by this school and the legal profession.

Instructors also have an obligation to minimize the likelihood that cheating will occur or that some students will obtain an unfair advantage over others. In particular, instructors should be careful to avoid using old examination questions or questions in use at a neighboring institution if under the circumstances this is likely to provide an opportunity for some students to obtain an unfair advantage. Instructors are also encouraged to cooperate with staff to see that examinations are fairly and efficiently administered.

HC 4 Library

Due to the Library’s central importance in furthering research and study, and the heavy use of library materials by law students and others, it is important that the posted rules of the library be strictly observed; violation of library rules is a violation of the Academic Honor Code. In particular, mutilation or theft of library material is absolutely forbidden. (It also is a criminal offense.) Any violation should be reported promptly to the Dean of Students for appropriate action in consultation with the Librarian. All Law Library users, including students, should cooperate to see that materials are returned promptly as required under the rules and that they are reshelved or made available for reshelving promptly after use.

HC 5 Career Development Office and Placement Activities

The policies of the Law School Career Development Office should be scrupulously observed. Students are expected to observe the basic standards of honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect for the rights of others when using the Law School Career Development Office and in other placement activities. For example, any falsification or misrepresentation of Law School grades or other records, recommendations or other qualifications is a violation of the Academic Honor Code. Similarly, no student may take any improper action to gain an unfair advantage or place any other student at an unfair disadvantage in the career planning or placement activities of the School, whether strictly within the Career Development Office or more generally.