American LL.M. + New York State Bar = Better Career Opportunities
Are you interested in LL.M. programs in the United States? Do you want to take the New York Bar Exam? Are you wondering whether the combination will bring you better legal career opportunities? On October 19th, Ms. Julie Sculli, the Director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School, led a very informative panel discussion with Brooklyn Law School alumnae Mr. Thibault Schrepel and Ms. Gisele Sirot, as well as Ms. Pauline Pierre, a graduate of Georgetown, who helped answer those questions. Ms. Sculli discussed American Legal Education, Brooklyn Law School’s LL.M. program, and the New York Bar. The panel provided a student’s perspective and valuable insight based on past experience. The audience had an opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
What sets the Brooklyn Law School LL.M. program apart?
Brooklyn Law School’s LL.M. program is a one-year full-time Master’s degree program, which can also could be completed in two years of part-time study by U.S. citizens, permanent residents and those who have a visa that allow part-time study. It was ranked #1 for “Best General LL.M.” in 2014 and 2015 in the New York Law Journal. The program has between 25 and 30 students per year. The small but diverse class allows students greater opportunity to communicate with deans, faculty and administrators, and to have individually tailored programs of study.
What are the benefits of Brooklyn Law School’s LL.M. program?
• Brooklyn Law School’s LL.M. program is designed to meet the New York Court of Appeals requirements for foreign-trained lawyers who wish to sit for the New York State Bar Exam. There is a specially designed bar exam preparation course as part of the curriculum.
• Brooklyn Law School focuses on providing practical skills training. The clinical programs, simulation courses and pro bono projects give students the chance to perform lawyer’s tasks, learn to exercise sound legal judgement, engage in problem-solving strategies, and take responsibility for decisions just as any licensed attorney world.
• Students have a career counselor that provides guidance and access to a job database to help with their employment search. The staff at Brooklyn Law School do their best to help advise students entering the legal job market.
• Brooklyn Law School, located at the intersection of Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, is surrounded by numerous non-profit organizations, law offices, companies and government agencies. Students at Brooklyn Law School take full advantage of the ideal location, and have unparalleled access to internships and jobs.
• As a benefit to the F-1 student visa*, foreign students can gain professional experience by working in the United States for up to 12 months after the completion of the LL.M. program.
Points you would definitely like to know before applying:
• Take the location of the campus into consideration.
Not every employer knows all U.S. law schools well; but New York is globally recognized. In addition to New York’s world-wide reputation, a rich source of professional opportunities and networks also increase the value of the LL.M. program.
• Do I need to prepare different documents to apply for different law schools?
Through the LLM Credential Assembly Service (LLM CAS) on the website of LSAC*, LLM candidates can arrange to have official transcripts and English proficiency scores sent only once to LSAC. The documents will be included in a report for all participating schools to which the student applies.
• Who should I ask for recommendation letters?
The key of a recommendation letter is to demonstrate the unique and personalized characteristics of an applicant. It is better to choose someone with whom you have a close relationship and knows you well, rather than a dean who knows little about you or may only add some general comments. For the applicants who have working experience, one recommendation letter should come from a former employer.
• I am taking a French prepa class. Should I send my grades from prepa school?
Prepa school in France has a two to three-year curriculum. It acts as a prep course to train undergraduate students for enrollment in grandes écoles. It is not a necessity for French law students, but some of them who want to study law and business take the course. Since the courses in prep schools are not easy, lots of students do not achieve high grades even though they may be ranked well in class. It is best to check with individual schools as to whether you need to send these transcripts. Some may require them, some may not.
• Can I work in the U.S. after graduation?
Foreign law students with an F-1 student visa* can apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) that allows them to work in the U.S. for up to one year after their program completion. Whether taking an internship or working in a law firm, the one-year professional experience in the U.S. will definitely benefit the students’ legal career.
• Prepare in advance to have your eligibility for the New York Bar determined.
The deadline for having your eligibility determined for the New York State bar exam is October 1st for the following year’s July bar exam. It can take at least 6 months for the New York State Board of Law Examiners to reply with your eligibility determination. If the law school transcripts, degree certificate, or any of the other documentation requested are not in English, students must provide English translations of the documents.
• Can I sit the New York Bar? Does the time allowed by the visa permit this?
The LL.M. programs in the U.S. usually take one academic year to complete. For example, at Brooklyn Law School, the LL.M. program begins in August and ends in May. Typically graduates will sit for the New York Bar in July or the following February (it is offered only two times a year). Students graduating in May still have time to sit for the bar in July with their visa because there is a 60 day grace period after completion, or because the student has filed for OPT.
• Do I need to take the French Bar if I already passed the New York Bar?
If a French student passed the New York Bar, they will only need to take Le Barreau (a different exam), and skip the 6-month Law School (Ecole d’Avocats) and 12-month internship.
• How will the New York Bar benefit my career?
New York is one of the few states allowing foreign lawyers to sit the bar. Once you pass it, you can practice law in New York. It is evidence of American law proficiency which makes you more marketable for jobs in France and the U.S. Even more, passing the New York Bar makes it simpler for the French student to pass the French Bar.
ABA: The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students. It is responsible for accrediting law schools in the United States.
LSAC: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is a nonprofit corporation that provides admission process services for law schools and their applicants worldwide. All the law schools approved by ABA are LSAC members, and students apply through LSAC for admission to U.S. law schools. Please check their website here.
F-1 student visa: The visa for foreign non-immigrant students to pursue full-time education in the U.S.
OPT: Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which students with F-1 status may work. F-1 students are given 12 months of OPT for each higher degree level. This allows for practical training experience to complement their degree work.