By Andrew Cohen
Swiss lawyer Tanja Gustinetti Henz was stuck in a bind: wanting an American LL.M. degree to better serve her corporate clients, but not wanting to alienate them by leaving her job for nine months.
“Working in an international law firm means you’re frequently dealing with U.S. companies,” she says. “LL.M. courses help you learn how to better advise them, but it’s still tough to explain why you need that much time away.”
Gustinetti Henz solved the problem by becoming one of 20 international students from 13 countries who enrolled in Berkeley Law’s new Summer LL.M. program. Instead of spending a full school year on campus, they’re pursuing a Master of Laws degree through an accelerated program that spans two consecutive 10-week summer sessions.
“My office couldn’t accept me leaving for several months,” says Dali Qian, a Shanghai attorney who specializes in mergers and acquisitions and private equity work. “This kind of flexible program is so valuable, especially at one of America’s best law schools. The level of teaching is very high, and the topics are extremely relevant to my practice.”
During this first summer session, the LL.M. students took 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.
Next summer, they’ll 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.
For Brazilian lawyer Beatriz Carvalho, a shift in teaching methodology provided a welcome change. Being asked to contribute her ideas and analysis in class was “really different from the system in my country, where the professor simply lectures the students.”
Carvalho sees “a lot of advantages in the U.S. teaching methods” and says she looks forward to returning to Berkeley again next summer: “I’ve really enjoyed the experience. The courses are designed to meet our needs, and the exchange of experiences and information with colleagues from all over the world is fantastic.”