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November 17, 2006


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As with business schools there is a global market for graduate law degrees. One problem, however, is there is no simple accreditation scheme for law as with MBAs. The CEUSL could be a potential answer. Nevertheless, within this global market an important distinction is emerging. The US LLM is still mainly an offshoot of the basic JD program. Within the UK and other countries, eg, New Zealand and Australia, the LLM is designed to cater for development of specialist skills. So if a student wants to gain expertise in corporate finance law or environmental law, then there are a range of LLMs that enable such specialisation. Of course US law schools can and do some of the same (pace NYU tax LLM), but they haven't fully realised that this is how the game is being configured. One question then is: is it sufficient just to go to a US law school to learn some American law? Or is it better to go to a school in another country and acquire a specialisation, and perhaps learn another language. Another way of putting this difference is that the US LLM program is essentially an horizontal approach to learning law, ie, one is learning more of the same from a different source. Of course if the aim is to learn about M&A, as quoted in the essay, then one is learning more and also something different. English and other LLMs are increasingly vertical in their outlook, ie, they assume a grounding in law and legal principles on which can be grafted a new set of specialisms. I am perhaps making this more extreme than it really is, but it suggests that the choice for LLM students is between learning some American law (with a possibility of getting a law firm associateship) or obtaining a specialised qualification that slots into identified market needs. John Flood (

D. Daniel Sokol

The CEUSL idea is a good one. However, the gold standard will remain the NY bar. Passage of the NY bar signals an understanding of US law in one of the most difficult to pass jurisdictions. Passage is a signal to potential employers in the US and abroad of a student's understanding of US law and of a sufficient command of English. However, the total number of LLMs that pass the NY bar remains rather small. CEUSL would capture more LLMs and provide a larger pool to potential employers and clients. This would reduce the information costs of a potential hire and potentially lead to better LLM hires whether in the US or foreign jursidictions.

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