St. John's University’s School of Law has launched two new Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs offering attorneys real-world training and academic study in two areas of international legal practice.
Introduced in August 2012, the programs in Transnational Legal Practice and International and Comparative Sports Law were spearheaded by the Law School’s Office of Transnational Programs, led by Christopher J. Borgen, J.D., Associate Dean for International Studies and Professor of Law, and Jeffrey K. Walker, J.D., LL.M., Assistant Dean for Transnational Programs and Adjunct Professor of Law.
“The School of Law has always focused on graduating practice-ready attorneys,” Dean Borgen said. “These new LL.M. programs emphasize training highly-skilled global lawyers.”
The LL.M. in Transnational Legal Practice trains U.S. and foreign attorneys for the global practice of law. Students can choose a track of study focusing on international dispute resolution, cross-border transactions or the intersection of law and diplomacy. Or, with faculty approval, they can design an individualized program of study from courses such as Transactions in Emerging Markets, International Criminal Law, Human Rights and International Arbitration.
"The Transnational Legal Practice LL.M. covers a broad range of international practice, from the work of foreign ministries to international business transactions," Dean Walker said, adding that students are able to tailor the program to fit their needs.
Early interest in this new program came from the government of Saudi Arabia, which has sent numerous applicants to St. John’s. Drawing students from multiple other countries, the LL.M. in Transnational Legal Practice is international in its student body as well as its coursework.
Professor Margaret E. McGuinness, J.D., Co-Director of the Law School’s Center for International and Comparative Law and one of the main faculty members in the program, also stressed that the Transnational Legal Practice LL.M. is a practitioner's degree. “We have a faculty with a wide range of international experience and we also draw from an enormous pool of practitioner adjuncts. Being in New York City, we are able to tap the knowledge and resources of global law firms, the UN, the Court of International Trade and a wide variety of non-governmental organizations. New York is a dynamic global city and legal education at St. John’s prepares lawyers for a dynamic global practice."
The LL.M. in International and Comparative Sports Law is the first program of its kind to be offered in the United States and is jointly sponsored by the School of Law and the Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía (ISDE), a distinguished European law faculty in Madrid, Spain. It is a highly specialized program that prepares attorneys to practice in sports law firms, agencies, regulatory bodies and other organizations dealing with global athletics.
Professor Ettie Ward, J.D., Director of the program, explained that St. John’s and ISDE have a certain kind of student in mind: “an attorney with a passion for sports is the ideal candidate for this program,” she noted.
Taught by top lawyers from the worldwide sports community, this program combines intensive academic courses with experiential learning. "The first semester is very focused on the academic study of the major substantive areas of sports law," Professor Ward said. "In the second semester, students build their legal skills in a full-time practice placement with a sports law firm, agency, team, league or regulatory body, either in the U.S. or overseas. During this time, they also complete their master’s thesis and assemble a portfolio of practice-oriented writing samples."
Both new LL.M. degree programs are for American as well as international students. "I think that adds something to both programs," Dean Walker observed. "Foreign lawyers want to have American colleagues in their peer group and U.S. lawyers want to build overseas contacts. That's one more advantage of these programs — networking. The practice of law is globalizing and at St. John’s you become part of a global network of alumni and colleagues."