By Andrew Cohen
Berkeley Law’s blossoming Professional LL.M. Program kicked off a new summer session this week with 143 students from 36 countries. It marks the largest enrollment yet for the program, in which international lawyers earn a Master of Laws degree over two consecutive summer sessions.
The group includes 93 new students who hail from all parts of the globe—China, Denmark, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Paraguay to name just a few—and represent every continent besides Antarctica.
Berkeley Law, which also offers a traditional academic-year LL.M. track, is the only top-tier law school to offer this flexible path to the LL.M degree. Students are taught by an array of full-time Berkeley Law faculty and top scholars. Classes include Mergers & Acquisitions with Eric Talley, Securities with Robert Bartlett, Foreign Investment Law with Andrew Guzman, and Privacy Law with Paul Schwartz—all prominent experts in their fields.
“Studying here is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life,” said Giulia Bramanti ’13, an Italian corporate lawyer who works for an international firm in Milan. “The professors are highly qualified and have the skills needed to teach foreign students effectively and comprehensively. Also, interacting with talented international lawyers has enhanced my understanding of the law from a global perspective while expanding my working connections.”
Amelia Miazad ’02, executive director of Berkeley Law’s advanced degree programs, noted that flexibility was a huge incentive in developing the summer option.
“It’s ideal for foreign-educated lawyers who don’t want to leave their jobs or families for a single nine-month stretch,” Miazad said. “For many lawyers, both personally and professionally it’s a lot easier to take time off over two summers.”
The Professional LL.M. program was launched in 2009 with 19 students. It has grown quickly, faster than even the optimistic hopes of its administrators. “It’s gratifying to see our recruiting and marketing efforts pay off,” Miazad said. “But it’s even more gratifying to see the impact our program has had, and to hear how much the students enjoy and appreciate what it gives them.”
Naa Ashong, a corporate and commercial litigation attorney at a mid-size firm in Accra, Ghana, echoed those sentiments. She came to Berkeley Law because of the “unique and valuable opportunity” it offered.
“It’s rather amazing to be able to earn an LL.M. degree from one of the world’s best law schools while being able to keep my job at the same time,” Ashong said. “I was also very enthused about meeting lawyers from so many different countries and establishing networks them. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.”
The program’s flexible curriculum—which includes business law, intellectual property, and core U.S. law courses—enables students to qualify for the California Bar Exam. They gain exposure to U.S. law practice through a speaker series led by top attorneys, and also visit law firms, businesses, and high-tech organizations across the Bay Area. In addition to an LL.M. degree, students seeking in-depth training in Business Law or Intellectual Property Law can earn a Certificate of Specialization recognizing their expertise.
“Professionally, I couldn’t ask for a better experience,” Bramanti said. “Beyond that, I feel I’ve made friendships that will last whole my life. I wish I could spend all of my summers in Berkeley.”