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Exchange programs that assist with LL.M. mobility

This article is the second in a three-part series on law student exchanges. focused on the benefits of inbound and outbound exchanges for J.D. students and foreign-educated LL.B. students. The third article will focus on student experiences in exchange programs, advice for LL.B. and J.D. students who want to participate, and how their exchanges have helped their careers.

My career changed in 2015 thanks to LL.B-LL.M. and LL.M.-LL.M. exchange partnerships.

In 2015, I was a St. John University School of Law staffer focused on international student support and an LL.M. adjunct professor. I spent that December at Beijing Jiaotong University, thanks to a partnership between the law schools.

In addition to student mobility, faculty exchanges were welcome. This allowed me to spend a month in Beijing teaching the first version of my Legal English for American Law Schools (LEALS) course.

Over the next 2.5 years, I served as an exchange professor for our partner schools in China (with a 3-week trip to our partner Universidad Iberoamericana in the Dominican Republic in January/February 2017).

Partner school mobility is an important way for U.S. law schools to welcome inbound LL.M. students. I believe the model has also radically transformed the ways U.S. law schools recruit LL.M. students and create new programs. So I’ve been happy to see the work Diana Ramirez is doing as the associate director of graduate programs and international affairs and adjunct professor with Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

For the second part of this series, I wanted to learn more about her vision for LL.B.-LL.M. and LL.M.-LL.M. exchanges at Haub Law, how her background as an LL.M. and S.J.D. student informs her philosophy on non-J.D. programs and support, and what makes Haub Law’s LL.M. programs stand out in an increasingly competitive market in the U.S. and abroad.

Finding Exchange Partners

Exchange programs are an easy way for U.S. law LL.M. programs to grow their global footprint while welcoming outstanding students from their partner schools. Finding good partners is an important first step. Ramirez suggests a helpful set of guidelines for U.S. law schools: (1) identify schools that share your vision, (2) allocate resources, and (3) commit time to ensure the success of the partnership.

Ramirez and I agree that quality is more important than quantity and I’m always curious what sort of unique opportunities schools build with each partner.

Ramirez said building strong relationships with a couple of institutions can be more impactful than spreading efforts thin across numerous programs.

Haub Law vision

Haub Law has two primary opportunities for their partner school students to study in their LL.M. programs: (1) LL.B. students in their final year pursuing an LL.M. at a discounted rate and (2) LL.M. students from partner universities joining for a year as exchange students.

Ramirez said their partners play a role in directing students to specific programs, such as environmental law. Ultimately, the admissions decisions are made by Haub Law’s team.

Exchange students benefit by transferring credits back to their home universities while obtaining a U.S. law degree.

“At Haub Law, exchange students may qualify for academic training or optional practical training,” she said. “The program opens doors for career opportunities, especially environmental law graduates, who often find roles at international organizations such as the United Nations and United Nations Development Programme after graduating.”

Partnerships in action

In part one of this three-part series, I said great partnerships require deans who understand the value of these programs.

Ramirez reinforces that point by noting the Haub Law approach to international partnerships focuses on mutual benefit rather than revenue generation.

One example is Haub Law’s partnership with Sorbonne University in Paris, France.

Extensive due diligence and admissions preparation ensures that Haub Law welcomes students from Sorbonne who are likely to excel in the program.

Ramirez said the collaboration between partner schools to find outstanding students is crucial.

“The emphasis on student quality directly correlates with program success,” she said. “Higher caliber students invariably contribute to a more thriving educational environment.”

In mutually beneficial partnerships, it is not just students who benefit. Based on my own experience, faculty can also benefit from these partnerships.

“From Haub Law’s perspective, incorporating faculty exchange programs into these collaborations not only benefits the participating students but also adds significant value to our law school as a whole,” Ramirez said.

Community benefits

Welcoming exchange students should ideally benefit the entire community, including fellow students. But that often requires additional support from the LL.M. team.

Ramirez and her colleagues play a major role in ensuring their exchange students are welcomed.

“Haub Law encourages interaction between exchange students and J.D. students interested in going abroad,” she said. “These connections foster a collaborative environment where students share experiences, contributing to a richer learning environment.”

I’ve seen examples where an exchange student becomes close friends with a J.D. student and the J.D. student is inspired to study in the exchange students’ school in the future, deepening the friendship and university relationship. And Haub Law continues to see the benefit of this strategy.

“By embracing an international perspective, our law school not only broadens its horizons but actively contributes to the global legal conversation,” Ramirez said.