Law Students

5 Ways to Prepare for an LL.M. Program
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Summary: Serious preparation for an LL.M. program should begin months before during the summer so that students are fully ready.

Although summer is half way over, these is still time to prepare for your LL.M. program in the fall. You may be tempted to hit the beach to read a trashy novel. In the back of your mind you may know that read more intellectual books or working on your English-language skills would be more valuable but not as fun.

  
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While relaxing is a necessary thing for your mind to prepare for the rigors of a law program, taking advantage of the time you have the summer before the program starts will benefit you during the program. The LLM Guide lays out five ways you can maximize the summer before your LL.M. program begins.

  1. How better to transition into school in the fall than by already being in school? Enroll in a summer program to help you get a boost on your English skills. A number of schools have these programs specifically designed for incoming LL.M. students. The University of Pennsylvania Law School even has a mandatory pre-LL.M. summer program. Executive Director Elise Kraemer of Graduate Programs at Penn Law said, “I think we’re a bit of an outlier here. We have a mandatory five-week summer program that all of our LL.M.s need to do. It’s a five-credit program, so they’re doing five weeks of intensive study in the foundations of US law and US legal writing and research. The programs also help students ease-in socially over the summer.” Kraemer further explains that once the LL.M. students take the summer courses, “they don’t have any additional requirements and they take all their classes with the JDs.”
  2. You may as well get used to reading a lot. Some LL.M. programs provide incoming students with a recommended reading list. This list should serve as just the beginning. If there are areas you are weak in, now is the time to get some extra help with those areas. Fordham University School of Law assistant dean for international programs Toni Jaeger-Fine said, “If they’re really eager, they should just familiarize themselves with trying to read some legal English. Especially for non-native speakers, they should read a bit about the legal system. Obviously LL.M. programs are accustomed to getting people up to speed with this, but try to read some judicial opinions, just sort of familiarize themselves with legal English.”
  3. Set a plan now of where you want to be career and lifestyle wise and start making connections to help get you there now, don’t wait for school to do it for you. Most students are far from home, in a new place. Jaeger-Fine said, “If part of your LL.M. goal is to network here either because you want to try to find a job or an internship, or because a network will be really important to your practice when you go back home, you should have a networking plan.” A way of networking can be done by joining organizations or activities on campus or online (like Facebook). She added, “The time will go really, really fast and once you start your studies you won’t have so much time to do that research.”
  4. Give yourself time to settle in before classes start. Trying to move in to a new apartment, unpack your belongings, and get all your school stuff situated the day before class is not enough time to be properly prepared. Jaeger-Fine suggests, “I want students to have settled in before the first day of orientation. Inevitably, every year we have some students who arrive that morning or the night before and they’re looking for an apartment or they haven’t unpacked or they’re totally jetlagged.” I think you put yourself at a huge disadvantage if you don’t settle in some days or a week before you LL.M.”
  5. Setting aside some time to actually relax is important. Jaeger-Fine explains, “I want out students to have had a really good summer. I want them to be happy and healthy and feel like they are ready for the program.” LL.M. programs are not a walk in the park. They require serious preparation and studying.

How early do you think students should arrive for an LL.M. program? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about LL.M. programs, read these articles:

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