Boston College’s LL.M. program is designed to immerse participants in the intricacies and flavor of the United States legal system, and help prepare them for the challenges of work in an increasingly global legal community. We are most interested in applicants from other countries who have completed their prior legal studies with high rank and who intend to return to their home countries to contribute to the legal profession. Otherwise, we are ecumenical: we are equally interested in applicants pursuing careers in private practice, government service, the judiciary, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and legal scholarship. The diversity of the participants in the program contributes significantly to the educational and community experience of all members of the Law School community.
Students in the program may choose from among most of the courses in the Law School’s extensive curriculum, including both introductory and more advanced courses in their fields of interest. We do not channel students into particular subject area tracks, so a student may sample from a range of fields if that makes sense for him or her. However, the curriculum also gives students ample opportunity to specialize in their particular fields of interest if appropriate. We work closely with each student to plan a program that best meets his or her needs.
In addition, beginning in 2012-13, students may pursue an optional concentration in one of five areas: business and commercial law, environmental law, human rights, intellectual property, and taxation. Consider the following:
• In the business and commercial law field, our faculty includes the likes of Kent Greenfield, a leader in the “stakeholder” school of corporate law; commercial law scholar James Rogers, an authority on the international harmonization of securities holding; international trade scholar Frank Garcia, who also teaches an international business transactions course; and Brian Quinn, the editor of an influential M&A blog.
• Our environmental law program boasts Zygmunt Plater, who has led groundbreaking environmental litigation; international law scholar David Wirth; and the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, one of this country's leading environmental and land use journals. The LL.M. concentration also gives students a chance to gain hands-on experience through an Environmental Law Practicum.
• Our interdisciplinary Center for Human Rights and International Justice, co-directed by Daniel Kanstroom, aims to nurture a new generation of scholars and practitioners in the United States and abroad who draw upon the strengths of many disciplines, and the wisdom of rigorous ethical training in the attainment of human rights and international justice.
• Our intellectual property faculty -- scholars with extensive practice experience -- includes Alfred Yen, who directs our program on Emerging Enterprises and Business Law; Joseph Liu, whose work explores the impact of digital technology on copyright law and markets; and patent law scholar David Olson. The LL.M. concentration covers not only basic topics in copyright, trademark and patent law, but also electives in antitrust law, cyber law, technology licensing and more.
• Students interested in taxation gain a solid grounding in U.S. and international tax concepts from some of this country's most influential tax law scholars. These include Diane Ring, whose recent work examines cross-border tax arbitrage and international tax relations; James Repetti, the author of groundbreaking new work on tax equity; and rising star Brian Galle. The program also features a periodic Tax Policy Workshop that showcases emerging scholarship in the field.
And this is just a sampling of what we offer. We also have significant strengths in international law, constitutional law, family law, legal history, and a host of other areas. Finally, LL.M. students may cross-register for a course in Boston College’s other university departments. Our Course Selection Handbook contains full descriptions of courses offered in 2012-2013.
Students are required to complete at least 24 credits of work during the course of the academic year. This includes a core course, “The United States Legal System”, which is required of all foreign-trained candidates. Students also must satisfy a written work requirement in one of the following two ways: (1) by completing the course Legal Research and Writing for LL.M. Students, or (2) by producing a piece of writing of a breadth and magnitude commensurate with the school’s upper-level writing requirement for J.D. students. This can be completed in conjunction with one of the school’s regular seminar offerings, or written independently (for two or three credits) under the supervision of a faculty member. Otherwise, students study alongside their J.D. classmates -- an immersion experience in American legal education.
Connections to practice
The Law School has always placed a great deal of emphasis on the professional knowledge that every good lawyer must possess. That includes not only the substantive law that governs particular cases or transactions, but also a range of environmental factors – business, economic, social, cultural and ethical – that structure the lawyer’s role. An understanding of these phenomena can both enrich a student’s understanding of how law functions in action, and enhance the student’s educational experience as a whole.
Our LL.M. program includes several features that help students develop insights in these areas. The course “The United States Legal System” includes several class meetings on different models of lawyering in the United States, and some of the professional and ethical issues involved. In addition, a number of courses in the regular curriculum are taught by adjunct faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields. Finally, we have close relationships with law firms and other organizations in the Boston area, many of them led by BC Law graduates. These relationships form the basis for on-site visits during the academic year, and may give rise to internship placements during the spring semester or after graduation. In this way, our students can actually experience how law is practiced here in different contexts.
In addition, our LL.M. students receive extensive support in their pursuit of employment or further study after graduation. This is handled through the joint efforts of our Career Services Office, the LL.M. program administration, and individual faculty members. For example, we advise each student on job search strategies, help that student prepare a resume and cover letters, alert him or her to specific job or networking opportunities, and offer other advice as needed. Our Career Services Resources Library is open to all of our students. Finally, students can participate in a variety of career-related events – some organized specifically for LL.M. students, others for the student body as a whole.
Recent graduates have landed internships or paid employment, of varying duration, in the chambers of a United States District Court judge, the Massachusetts state government, non-governmental organizations, and both large and small law firms. And those are just the people who have found work in the U.S. Others have returned to their home countries, landing in law firms, a General Counsel position, academics, the judiciary, government service, and other work.
A word of caution: the LL.M. degree is not designed as a credential for practice in the U.S. over the long term. Applicants who seek long-term employment in this country should pursue our J.D. degree rather than the LL.M. However, those who complete the LL.M. degree may be eligible for admission to the bar in New York, Massachusetts and a limited number of other states. Further information on eligibility requirements is available on the web site of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.