The Admission Interviews, are meant to provide insights into LLM admissions right from the law school itself. The primary idea behind this series is to provide that little bit of extra information that may not be available on the law school’s website.
In this edition, we speak with Toni M. Jaeger-Fine, the Assistant Dean of International and Non-J.D. Programs at Fordham University’s School of Law in New York City. In this e-mail interview, she discusses the benefits of a foreign LLM for the Indian law graduate, writing a good personal statement, and much more.
What are the benefits that an international LLM would provide to the Indian law graduate?
There are myriad benefits associated with a U.S. LL.M. degree. The benefits depend largely on what an individual student wants to get out of his or her LL.M. experience.
Here are some of the principal benefits one can expect to receive by pursuing a master’s degree in law in the United States:
- Learn about the U.S. common law system.
- Specialize in a matter of professional or academic interest.
- Develop an appreciation for U.S. legal culture and the legal culture of countries represented by other LL.M. students.
- Master the specifics and nuances of the U.S. legal language.
- Qualify to sit for the bar examinations in certain U.S. states, including New York.
- Work in the U.S. to develop a sense of the professional culture in the U.S.
- Enjoy living abroad for a year or more.
And what are the benefits that are specific to the LLM at Fordham?
Fordham Law School and its LL.M. program are unique in a number of ways, among them the following:
- Areas of Specialization: Fordham’s LL.M. program offers eight areas of specialization in fields that are at the cutting-edge of the global legal economy: Banking, Corporate, and Finance Law; Corporate Compliance; Fashion Law; Intellectual Property and Information Technology; International Business Transactions; International Dispute Resolution; International Law and Justice; and U.S. Law. Students who spend one additional semester at Fordham Law can receive their LL.M. degree in any two areas of specialization.
- Diversity: LL.M. students at Fordham Law come from more than 40 countries around the world offering excellent learning and networking opportunities among students themselves.
- Real World Experience: Master students at Fordham Law may apply to take part in live client clinics and externships and to serve on one of the Law School’s journals. LL.M. students at Fordham also may take a series of experiential, practice-oriented courses that give them training in the real work of lawyers.
“LL.M. students at Fordham also may take a series of experiential, practice-oriented courses that give them training in the real work of lawyers. “
Many of these courses are taught by adjunct faculty members—legal professionals who teach one or two courses and bring a dynamic and highly practical dimension to their teaching.
- Begin in August or January: Students may begin their studies in August, as in all U.S. law schools; or they may begin their studies in January, an option that is available only at a handful of U.S. law schools.
- Location, Location, Location! Fordham Law is located in the heart of Manhattan, giving students unparalleled access to the nation’s top law firms, companies, NGOs, and of course all of the dining, clubs, and museums and other cultural attractions for which New York City is famous. The Law School is located in midtown-west, directly across the street from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and two blocks from Central Park.
- The Fordham Law Network Connection: Fordham Law is known for its friendly, welcoming environment. Our alumni work in top law firms, companies, NGOs, and governmental positions around the world. Our Law School community feels like a family. Your classmates and professors, and Fordham Law alumni, are here to help you find your way through your studies and in the profession.
What advice would you have for the prospective applicant when it comes to writing the personal statement? How does one fit so much into just 500 words?
The most important thing about the personal statement is that it be a solid example of your writing. Lots of applicants feel anxious about what they should write in the personal statement.
My advice is to say something about yourself that may not be apparent from your resume. Some applicants have not had much personal or professional expedience and that is fine—at the end of the day, the most important thing about your personal statement is that it be well-written.
“Some applicants have not had much personal or professional expedience and that is fine—at the end of the day, the most important thing about your personal statement is that it be well-written.”
In terms of the word length, remember that you do not have to reduce your entire life to the personal statement – just some aspect of who you are, your plans, etc. And it is almost always true that when it comes to writing less is more!
Does seeking financial aid affect an applicant’s chance of securing admission?
Not at all! We admit every candidate that we want to have in our LL.M. community, regardless of finances.
Could you share the kind of organizations that LLM students extern at?
In recent semesters, students have had externships with judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court; law firms such as White & Case; the United Nations; and companies such as TED Talks.
You have written about how legal expertise and legal education is simply not enough to be successful in today’s market. How do you think international LLM grads can increase their chances of recruitment post the course?
This is my favorite topic! I have recently written a book called Becoming a Lawyer: Discovering and Defining Your Professional Persona, which addresses these topics. In today’s competitive legal marketplace, technical skills and legal knowledge are insufficient to succeed.
What each of us needs is a robust professional persona with strong foundations and a range of attitudes and behaviors for both self-regulation and dealing with others.
I would be happy to do another interview on this subject. If any of your readers are interested, my book can be purchased on Amazon.com or through West Academic.
Lastly, there is a growing number of Indian law grads who are considering research-based careers. Any advice on how they should approach the SJD degree? Does Fordham prefer students who have graduated from Fordham?
Our S.J.D. program is highly competitive. While we do not favor Fordham LL.M. graduates, studying in our LL.M. program can give students an opportunity to meet faculty members who might be willing to supervise their doctoral work, which is a pre-requisite for admission to our S.J.D. program.
But it bears repeating that our doctoral program is deliberately small, and that its admissions process is highly competitive.