Jul 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Comparative and International Law, LL.M. (the Masters of Law for International Lawyers)

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The graduate program for foreign law school graduates is rooted in the efforts of SMU’s School of Law in the early 1950s to make the school a leading international legal center. More than 2000 international graduates of the school from more than 80 countries now occupy prominent positions in government, legal practice, business, the judiciary and legal education around the world.

The primary goal of the program is to enhance the international student’s legal skills so that they may become a more effective lawyer and member of society. In this respect, the program seeks to develop

  • An appreciation of the role of law in national and international development.
  • The ability to identify, through comparative and international studies, policy considerations of various legal rules.
  • An appreciation of the role of the lawyer in social and economic change.
  • Legal analysis and problem-solving abilities to enable the student to meet the complex needs of the modern world.
  • A basic understanding of the U.S. legal system, as studied from a comparative perspective.
  • A frame of reference for dealing with business and legal interests in a transnational setting.

This LL.M. degree can also qualify a person to take the bar examination in Texas, New York and California, if the student meets certain curricular requirements and otherwise complies with the regulations of such states.

Admission Criteria

An applicant for admission to this LL.M. degree program must be a graduate of a recognized foreign law school. The applicant’s undergraduate record must demonstrate scholarly legal aptitude. An applicant for whom English is a second language must present evidence of a TOEFL English language proficiency test, with an Internet-based score of 90 or written score of 575 or IELTS band score of 6. U.S.-trained law students may not apply to this degree program. Students who do not meet these requirements can apply for conditional admission, subject to completion of an approved English as a Second Language program, or a waiver for good cause.

Application Procedure

An applicant must include with the application: a short curriculum vitae; evidence of proficiency in English (normally a TOEFL English language proficiency test score of 90 on the Internet-based test or 575 on the written test); a certified transcript in English of grades received in law school; letters of recommendation in English (or translated into English); evidence of financial ability to pay tuition, fees and all other expenses during the applicant’s stay in the United States; and a recent head-and-shoulders photograph of the applicant.

Financial Aid

The Robert G. Storey Memorial Fund provides scholarship support to an outstanding foreign graduate law student who undertakes an intensive course of study in comparative and international law. The Sohmen Endowed Scholarship Fund and Sohmen Chinese Scholars Program Endowment provide full tuition and fees and a monthly living stipend for up to four students from China. Additional scholarships are available for qualified students and are awarded at the time of admission.

International applicants should note that the Dedman School of Law has no funds to grant for travel expenses, either to or from the United States or within the United States, nor does it have any administrative influence through which governmental or private agencies can be persuaded to assist in travel.

Specialized Courses

The following listing illustrates the diversity and depth of courses offered at the Dedman School of Law in comparative and international law. Applicants should note, however that school does not offer all of these courses and seminars each term or even each year. In addition, some courses have limited enrollments or prerequisites that a student may not satisfy. The school’s Registrar’s Office publishes a schedule of courses before the beginning of each term. Students must consult these schedules for actual course offerings. The credit hours for each course are given at the beginning of each course description included under The Curriculum in this catalog. Other related courses not listed may also be offered each year on a one-time-only basis.

Additional Information

In addition to the above courses which are related to international legal issues, LL.M. students enroll in many other classes, which emphasize American Law. Students desiring to qualify for the Texas or New York or other state bar exams enroll in some courses that are tested on relevant bar exams, in accordance with such state’s bar exam requirements. Formal concentrations are offered in some areas of law.  Students interested in concentrations should consult with the Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs. 

Degree Requirements

  1. Students in this program may begin their studies in the fall or spring terms. In addition, they must participate in an extensive orientation program held at the Dedman School of Law in mid-August or early January before the start of classes.
  2. Students pursuing the LL.M. degree for foreign law school graduates must complete 24 hours of credit from courses or seminars selected in consultation with the student’s faculty adviser, who is assigned during orientation. Faculty members advising candidates for this degree will make every effort to tailor a student’s study plan to their specific graduate objectives. However, all students are required to take LAW 7293 - Perspectives of the American Legal System . In addition, many students take LAW 6394 - Business Enterprise for LLMs  and/or LAW 7315 - International Business and Financial Transactions . Students whose degree plan includes externships for practical skills are required to take LAW 9100 - Legal Practical Training Internship  and LAW 6110 - Legal Practical Training II .

The Dedman School of Law awards the LL.M. degree to those students who complete their coursework with an average grade in all courses equivalent to a grade of C- or 1.7. A student will not receive credit for a course or seminar in which their grade is below D or 1.0. Students for whom English is a second language are allowed additional time to complete written final examinations.

Admission to the Juris Doctor Program

The J.D. is the basic law degree for U.S. law students. In a limited number of instances, international students who have graduated with distinction in the LL.M. program of the Dedman School of Law and who can demonstrate legitimate graduate study objectives for furthering their careers may be considered for admission to the J.D. program without being required to take the Law School Admission Test or Graduate Record Exam. Admission under such conditions to the J.D. program and the award of advanced credit, if any, is solely within the discretion of the admissions committee (taking into consideration any recommendations of the graduate committee). Advanced credit, if any, will be based upon an evaluation of the student’s grades in J.D. equivalent courses in the LL.M. program and the student’s record in the home country law degree, and will normally range from zero credit hours to 24 credit hours.

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