Master of Laws Program Attracts Global Enrollment

From left to right: Yamila Chali, exchange student from Argentina; Agustin Parise, research associate with the Center of Civil Law Studies; Estefania Lara, exchange student from Argentina; Tatiana Vorobieva, LLM student from Kyrgyzstan; Celeste Fernandez, exchange student from Argentina; Olivier Moreteau, director of the LLM program; Kerime Gunturk, LLM student from Turkey; Matias Argarate, LLM student from Argentina; Liliana Noriega, LLM student from Colombia; Christelle Demangeat, LLM student from France; Juan Cordero, LLM student from Costa Rica; Jennifer Lane, coordinator in the Center of Civil Law Studies; and Helena Abebe, LLM student from Ethiopia.

The LSU Law Center’s LL.M., or Master of Laws, program could be confused for a miniature United Nations. To say there is diversity among the eight students enrolled this year would be an understatement considering they come from Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uganda.

So imagine what the two weeks of orientation can be like before school starts. Not only do these students have to learn about their new campus and new school, but an entirely different way of life that involves Hurricane Season, fire ants —yes, they are warned about the hazard of fire ants—and a strange war cry of “Tiger Bait” that emanates from the populace four months out of the year.

It’s not all bugs and natural disasters, however, as the LL.M. candidates also receive instruction on how to prepare, study, and participate in a U.S. law school. They learn about the law, language, and structure of the U.S. federal and state governments and legal systems. They also tour Baton Rouge and take trips to New Orleans to visit the Louisiana Supreme Court, tour the French Quarter, and sample the cuisine.

“The students typically come to learn about common law and the American legal system,” said LSU Law Professor Olivier Moreteau, director of the LL.M. program and the Center of Civil Law Studies. “They do not realize until they are here, the value of taking classes with faculty who can help them bridge the two traditions (of common law and civil law).

“We also have the benefit of having a small program, so they get personal attention.”

Moreteau added that many international students learn of the LL.M. program—which is a one-year program—via the Internet but word of mouth is very important as well. Faculty, former students and the recommendation of their peers are all important means of promoting the Law Center’s graduate programs abroad.

Students take only one required course—an introduction to U.S. Law—a first semester comparative study of the institutions and concepts of Anglo-American and Louisiana laws, and a practical skills component to help them prepare for exams and their research paper.

From there, the students can take any course they want within the LSU Law curriculum. Before they arrive at LSU, however, Moreteau said they are encouraged to plan out their courses in advance. Subsequently, he meets with each student to make sure his or her course plan is feasible. Students need 26 credit hours to earn their LL.M.

A number of scholarships are available for students, as is assistance with housing. Most students, Moreteau said, choose to live off campus but in the vicinity.

For more information, visit the LL.M. program’s site.