UNC School of Law will soon offer foreign lawyers an opportunity to improve their knowledge of U.S. law and legal process through a one-year master of laws degree (LL.M.) program. Acquiescence of the American Bar Association to the program is expected in January 2011.
Michael L. Corrado, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, will serve as director of the program. He hopes to begin the program in the fall of 2011 with an initial class of three to seven students and an eventual student population of 25.
"Our J.D. and LL.M. students will benefit by studying together and by engaging in discussions about comparative legal issues, policies and judicial processes," says John Charles "Jack" Boger, dean and Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law.
Boger has supported the development of the LL.M. program as part of an ongoing effort to help train lawyers who will practice in the global economy. More than 100 American law schools currently offer an LL.M., including many of the most elite public and private law schools. "We live in a time of rapid global changes, when legal issues involving banking and investment law, environmental law, intellectual property protection, and human rights cross boundaries of geography and have far-reaching impacts," says Boger. "We need our lawyers and leaders to have a strong understanding of cross-cultural issues and comparative law."
Boger notes that Corrado is an ideal director, having established himself as a leading international scholar on adversarial systems worldwide. Corrado has also recently earned a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Trento in northern Italy, where he will teach a seminar on U.S. criminal law while researching Italian and European approaches to criminal law issues in the spring of 2011. The LL.M. program has also been developed with the assistance of associate deans Robert Mosteller and Laura N. "Lolly" Gasaway.
Boger emphasizes that the school's domestic law students and professors who work primarily within the United States will benefit from learning alongside foreign-trained lawyers and forging international connections. The program builds on the school's existing programs of international study abroad and student exchange, as well as visiting scholar programs for academics, judges and prosecutors. It will also benefit from UNC School of Law faculty expertise in U.S. and international law and other fields of global legal scholarship.
"We live in a world in which significant shifts are occurring in ownership of wealth and resources, and American attorneys must be able to compete in this new global marketplace," says Boger. "This degree program will help us to attract and develop a network of alumni worldwide, many of them leaders in their own nations, who will assist our U.S.-trained alumni establish global connections, whether they eventually practice in Charlotte, Raleigh, New York City, or Seoul, Korea."
UNC School of Law has traditional strengths in corporate and commercial law, banking law, environmental law, intellectual property rights and civil rights law, which should appeal to international students. They can also study health care law, human rights, American international and comparative law, and public law and regulation.
To be eligible for the program, foreign lawyers must have earned a primary law degree from universities in their home countries. Preference will be given to foreign lawyers who have practiced law for at least two years. Admissions decisions will also be based on an applicant's prior academic excellence in their legal studies and fluency in English. For more information, contact Beverly Sizemore, director of international programs, at 919.843.6247, or visit the LLM program website.
-December 7, 2010