About the LL.M. in American Law for Foreign Lawyers
1. What is the LL.M. Program?
FSU’s LL.M. in American Law for Foreign Lawyers is a master's degree program for students trained in law outside the United States. This highly selective, two semester, full-time program permits foreign graduate law students to develop an understanding of the American legal system and the role of law in the United States. Students may also design their curriculum to gain a more in-depth knowledge of United States law in fields such as commercial law, environmental law, health law, intellectual property, administrative law and other areas. Students benefit not only from working with FSU’s outstanding faculty and students, but also by establishing professional relationships with other LL.M. students from around the world.
2. Why should I pursue an LL.M. for Foreign Lawyers?
There are a multitude of reasons to pursue the LL.M, including the opportunity to:
• Acquire practical and theoretical expertise in areas of American law
• Enhance legal research and communication skills
• Develop knowledge and abilities to represent foreign clients in transactions in the United States, and to provide representation in their native countries for United States clients
• Build an international network of professional contacts
• Perfect English language skills necessary for the legal environment
• Contribute to understanding of American culture
• Attain a degree that may permit a foreign lawyer to take the bar examination in several states in the U.S.
3. Who is eligible for admission?
Admission to the LL.M. Program in American Law is open to only a select few foreign graduate law students each year. Applicants must have completed a basic law degree from a recognized college, university or law school outside the United States. Students must have excellent academic records and strong professional and/or academic recommendations. Professional experience and demonstrated leadership skills will also be taken into account in admissions’ decisions.
Florida State Law seeks for the Program to include students from a diverse group of countries and experiences.
4. How do I apply?
A complete application file must include:
1. Completed application form.
2. Application fee of $30 in U.S. currency.
3. Two letters of recommendation. At least one letter of recommendation should be from an academic instructor familiar with the student’s work.
4. Official TOEFL or IELTS scores. (Requirement for international students whose native language is not English, and did not receive a bachelor's degree or graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution within the United States.)
5. One transcript from each post-secondary school.
6. A written personal statement with information about any personal experiences, achievements, plans, goals or other factors the applicant would like the admissions committee to take into account. The statement should indicate whether the applicant intends to direct his or her study of American law to a particular field. The statement should not address financial aid issues. The statement should reflect the applicant’s own writing style and be no more than 500 words.
7. A current resume.
6. The Certificate of Financial Responsibility form and proof of financial support.
5. Do I have to take the LSAT?
No. The LSAT is not required for admission to the LL.M. program.
6. What are the English language proficiency requirements?
International students whose native language is not English, and did not receive a bachelor's degree or graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution within the United States are required to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS and have official scores submitted to the College of Law or LSAC as part of the application. Minimum scores of 90 on the Internet-based; 250 on the computer-based; and 600 on the paper-based TOEFL test are required. A minimum score of 7 on the IELTS test is required.
7. Does Florida State University grant conditional admissions?
Students who otherwise have records meriting acceptance to the LL.M. Program, but cannot demonstrate necessary English proficiency may be granted conditional admission. Such admission is contingent upon submission of a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 90 on the internet-based exam. You have one year from the beginning of the above term to meet this condition and be formally admitted into your degree program.
To help you achieve formal admission, the Center for Intensive English Studies (CIES) at Florida State University is available to help you improve your English language proficiency. Please visit CIES or e-mail email@example.com for more information.
8. When is the admissions decision made?
The admissions committee will consider admissions applications as soon as a file is complete. Applicants will be notified immediately upon a decision by the committee.
9. What are the degree requirements?
To earn the LL.M. degree in American Law for Foreign Lawyers, students must successfully complete twenty-four units of credit (generally two semesters' study) in residence at the Florida State University College of Law. LL.M. students must also complete a non-credit, one-week orientation prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Students must complete required courses in Legal Research and Writing and Introduction to American Law during the fall semester. There are not other required courses, and thus each student’s program is developed to suit the needs and goals of the individual. Students satisfy their requirements over two semesters by choosing courses and seminars from among those offered in the J.D. program. An LL.M. thesis is not required for the degree, but an option to complete such a thesis is available.
10. How will my performance in the LL.M. program be evaluated?
There is no comprehensive examination at the end of the LL.M. program. Courses in American law schools are graded by a separate exam or written paper in each course. Grades for most courses are, however, based on a single, final examination or paper for each course. The format of law school evaluation varies. While many professors give written essay-type exams, others give objective question exams or a combination of the two formats. Seminar courses require a written paper.
11. How much does the program cost?
Tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 academic year are $31,762.80 if a student completes the 24 credits required for graduation. Students from Latin America and the Caribbean may qualify for a nominal scholarship and the same reduced tuition as in-state J.D. students, which is $15,753.12 for 24 credits. Click here for more detailed information about tuition and expenses.
12. Is financial aid available?
FSU College of Law has a limited number of merit-based, partial scholarships available for students in the LL.M. in American Law for Foreign Lawyers program. The university maintains a comprehensive Web site of scholarship and fellowship opportunities for international students. Applicants are also encouraged to seek financial assistance through their governments or other outside sources.
To encourage participation by law graduates from Caribbean and Latin American countries, the State of Florida offers substantial support by providing tuition at the same rate as state residents.
13. Will I need a computer?
Yes. We are proud of the law school’s cutting edge technology that enhances our classroom teaching and provides students with exciting and innovative research capability. To be able to take full advantage of these technological capabilities, all entering students, including LL.M. students, are required to have laptop computers. Students have wireless web access within the law school buildings as well as free internet dial-up access, Web-based e-mail, the BlackBoard Course Management System, and free access to many Web-based legal research resources.
14. Will this degree allow me to take the bar examination or practice law in the United States?
The Florida State LL.M. in American Law degree may permit a graduate foreign lawyers to take the bar examination in some jurisdictions, particularly New York and the District of Columbia. Students may tailor their curriculum to meet the course requirements and credit hours necessary for qualification to take the bar examination in New York and the District of Columbia. The LL.M. Program provides applicants a guidebook for preparing to apply to these states’ bars. For further information, visit the state bar examination Web site for foreign lawyers for the New York State Board of Law Examiners and for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on Admissions.
Each U.S. state in the United States has a Board of Law Examiners which sets the specific requirements for bar admission in that state. Most have requirements for foreign lawyers beyond an LL.M. degree. Students should check with the Board of Law Examiners of the state where they wish to take the bar to see if they are eligible. For complete information about the requirements for bar admission in particular states, refer to the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, available here.
15. What type of visa do I need; how long will it take?
LL.M. students in the United States generally require F 1 visas or J 1 student visas. Because the process to receive a visa may take from 30 to 90 days, admitted students should begin the student visa application process acceptance into the program to ensure that the visa will be issued in time for beginning the program in mid-August.
16. If I complete the LL.M., can I stay in the summer to work?
U.S. immigration regulations currently permit F 1 visa students who have been continuously enrolled in the LL.M. program for two semesters to apply for post graduate optional practical training (OPT). The optional practical training permission allows F 1 students to remain in the U.S. for approximately one year to undertake law related employment. Students with J 1 visa status are not eligible for the post graduate optional practical training.