The U.S. LLM for Foreign Lawyers: Real Value or Overpriced, Low-Utility Legal Education?

Vol. 43 No. 2

By

Howard N. Fenton is professor of law and director of the Democratic Governance and Rule of Law LLM Program at Ohio Northern University College of Law. The eight-year-old ONU LLM program, designed for lawyers from transitional democracies, grew out of Professor Fenton’s work on governance and law reform in the former Soviet Union. He was the 2011 chair of the Section on Post-Graduate Legal Education of the Association of American Law Schools and is a member of the ABA International Law and Administrative Law sections.

U.S. law schools are competing fiercely for foreign lawyers to attend their graduate law programs, most of which lead to Master of Laws (LLM) degrees. Whether this is simply a desire to fill seats left vacant by the decline in enrollments in Juris Doctor (JD) degree programs or a genuine desire to provide lawyers from around the world with a U.S.-style legal education, well over half of all law schools approved by the American Bar Association now offer some kind of LLM program designed to attract foreign lawyers.

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