#Admissions: Joseph Pollak, Michigan Law School, on the MACL program

Sometime back, I had written about three executive LLMs that Indian mid-career lawyers  can take a look at. One of those, mentioned only towards the end of the piece, was the Masters in Advanced Corporate Law (MACL) offered by the Michigan Law School. The MACL course caught my eye for a number of reasons, including the fact that the tuition fees ($31,337) is significantly lower than at other US law schools offering a similar sort of program.

To learn a bit more about the course, I reached out to Joseph Pollak,  the International Affairs Program Manager at Michigan Law School. In an e-mail interview, he discussed the admission process, ideal applicant profile, and a whole lot more.

(Edited excerpts)

Joe Pollak of Michigan Law School

Joe Pollak

Is there a particular profile of lawyers that you think would be a good fit for the MACL program?

The ideal MACL student is an early or mid-career lawyer who would like to study corporate law and securities regulation from a US and comparative perspective.

It is someone interested in gaining knowledge, working hard, building relationships with classmates and professors and forever becoming part of the exclusive Michigan Law community. Someone who wants to pause their busy day-to-day life for three months and immerse themselves in a vibrant intellectual world surrounded by the gorgeous University of Michigan campus and our lively college town – to recharge in the fresh air of the American Mid-West – and emerge ready to tackle the next phase of their career.

Would Indian lawyers be exempt from the English proficiency requirement?

Normally, Indian applicants would need to supply test scores evidencing high English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.). However, we understand that practicing lawyers may have other ways of showing that their English skills are sufficient.

Anyone who would like to request a waiver from our normal requirement should write to law.macl.admissions@umich.edu and we will evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis.

Would the MACL course allow one to sit for either the NY Bar or the California Bar, or any other US Bar exam?

At the moment, no. Our purpose for creating the program is to provide deep and useful expertise in the specific area of corporate law and securities regulation. Creating a program that allows graduates to sit for a state bar exam would detract significantly from that purpose.

We encourage people interested in qualifying for a US bar exam to enrol in our 9-month LLM program. Having said that, we are keeping an eye on some proposed rule changes that may allow MACL graduates to sit for a US bar exam in the near future.

In terms of course load, what would you say is the approximate number of study hours that the course would require? A lot of the applicants would be lawyers who may not have had to study for a while now.

Since study habits vary significantly from student to student, let me approach the questions in a different way. The MACL program is academically rigorous and it will require study hours outside of the classroom.

However, nearly all of our MACL professors were law firm lawyers before becoming academics so they understand the lifestyle, pressures, and mindsets of practicing lawyers and have tailored their courses accordingly. For example, MACL classes are graded on a tiered pass/fail basis rather than on a strict A through F rubric.

Could you talk about the writing requirement that the MACL program includes?

MACL students choose their own subjects for a piece of writing similar to the kind of writing that they encounter in their regular law practice.

Michigan Law’s legal research and writing professors work with students one-on-one and in small groups throughout the 12 weeks of the program to further hone foundational lawyering skills of writing, research, and analysis.

Lastly, would MACL students have access to the career development services at Michigan Law?

Yes! MACL students have access to online and written resources provided by our Office of Career Planning, including our job board and a comprehensive collection of specialized guides on relevant topics.

In addition, MACL students have access to perhaps our most valuable career resource: upon graduation, MACL students become part of a network of Michigan Law alumni around the globe.

Three Executive LLMs that mid-career lawyers can look at

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Ever feel like life is too slow?

So far, clients at Amicus Partners have largely been of two kinds: one, law students in their final or penultimate year of law and two, law grads with a few years of work experience. So naturally, our focus has been on the LLM (and other masters courses) that are tailored for these two segments; I would say that 95% of our clientele is not really looking for anything else.

However, over the last few weeks, I have become aware of a small section of lawyers who are also considering “executive” programs – courses with a reduced residency requirement, tailored to fit into a working professional’s schedule.

Essentially, these programs provide some of the big draws of a full-time LLM: specialist knowledge, brand, and networking without having to give up the entire year (or ten months) that the full-time course would take. And of course, the associated costs that a year out of the country would carry.

To be honest, I am not quite sure if Indian lawyers see executive LLMs as a value proposition, but I do come across lawyers who are considering it. Typically, these are lawyers who are firmly on the Partner track (or close to it), and looking to up skill. At the same time, they are also wary of a year-long departure from the office.

The question is though, will they bite?

Institutions like Columbia Law School certainly think so. They have recently launched their Executive LLM program, and they are not the first major law school to do so. Given below are the details of two other US law schools that offer executive LLM’s.

Of course, you would be well-advised to read through each program’s fine print to see if they satisfy your requirements such as Bar eligibility, qualifying for OPT etc.

Columbia Law School’s Executive LLM in Global Business Law

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Columbia Law Schools Exec LLM/ Columbia Law School 

 

(Homepage)

The newest entrant, as far as I know, to the “e-LLM” club, the Executive LLM from Columbia Law brings a whole lot to the table: online courses and assessments, a three-month residency requirement in New York City, and some stellar faculty. The website mentions that they prefer applicants with a minimum of five years of work experience.

Tuition: $72,560 (More info)

Application Deadline: January 18, 2019 (Preferred deadline is Dec 18, 2018) (More Info)

Contact: ExecLLM@law.columbia.edu

Pros: Faculty, Career Services, Brand, Location

Cons: Does not qualify you for NY Bar, Expensive, First year of operations

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Executive LLM Chicago

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The Northwestern ELLMC/Northwestern University

(Home Page)

Born out of the accelerated summer LLM program, Northwestern’s Executive LLM Chicago (ELLMC) course was formally launched in 2016.  With a curriculum that “will focus on the way lawyers interact across the world with business clients and enterprises”, the ELLMC is not really for someone looking to make that switch to the US. In fact, this is one of the facts that are clearly stated on the website itself (see below)

Tuition: $67,066 (See more)

Application Deadline: Rolling admission

Pros: Qualifies you for California Bar (but read the fine print), scholarships (partial) available, entire course is class-based

Cons: Not tailored for US employment, Expensive

London School of Economics and Political Science Executive LLM

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LSE’s Executive LLM/LSE 

(Home page)

With an LLM that is quite popular amongst Indian law graduates, LSE does enjoy a certain amount of brand recognition in India.  In addition, the ELLM at LSE also comes with a set of specialisations, and can be completed over the course of four years. Applicants with at least 3 years PQE are preferred.

Tuition: £3,250 per module, 8 modules for completion (£26,000)

Application Deadline: Rolling admission

Pros: Can be covered over 4 years, Location, “Exit points” for those who don’t complete course

Cons: No scholarships, Fairly intensive teaching schedule [pdf]

In addition to the three listed above, one can also look at IE Law School’s Executive LLM that is jointly offered with Northwestern University. And lastly, thanks to LinkedIn, I found the Master of Advanced Corporation Law (MACL) course from the University of Michigan’s Law School.

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