LLM Student Life
This section presents a typical LLM experience as a student would encounter it throughout the year.
At the time of admission in February, accepted applicants are given the opportunity to join a class Facebook page organized by our current LLM students. The admission materials, sent in a series of email messages, arrive shortly thereafter. They include: detailed information about housing so that prospective students can communicate with people who have first-hand knowledge of Chicago; essays by current students about the faculty and student life; and descriptions of various student services available in the Law School.
Once the LLM class for the following academic year has been set in May, members of the class will be sent email addresses of their classmates so they can begin contact with each other. In July, the Law School will send an electronic version of the Career Services Handbook for LLM Students (this will help students prepare for finding practical training experience in this country if they wish to do that).
In late September, a week before classes begin in the Autumn Quarter, there are a series of orientation events and presentations. These are designed to introduce LLM students to certain aspects of American law and legal education, and to provide opportunities for LLM students to get to know each other, members of the faculty and students in the JD Program. There are also several presentations by the Office of Career Services for students who intend to look for internships with American firms. The events usually include several dinners, an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River, a Chicago White Sox baseball game, and several sessions about Chicago culture. Also part of orientation is the Law School's first Wine Mess (a weekly Friday afternoon gathering for drinks, snacks, and conversation), which features tables with representatives from the Law School's political, social, musical, and service student organizations.
There are no specific courses which LLM students are required to take at Chicago, and there are only a few courses they may not take. LLM students often put together course and seminar schedules that reflect certain practice specialties such as corporate/securities, intellectual property, antitrust/regulation of business, or commercial transactions among others. Most, however, add other offerings in areas like constitutional law, legal theory, law & economics, and comparative law to round out their academic experience.
The first week of each academic quarter is a "shopping period" where students may sample a variety of classes and seminars before selecting the ones that will make up their final schedule. The typical LLM schedule of three courses per quarter will have nine 65-minute classes spread from Monday through Friday.
With an LLM Program of about 75 students, people find it easy to develop friendships and study or socialize together. Parties, dinners and other more informal social activities are often planned and organized for the entire class. Many LLM students get together for lunch in the Law School's Green Lounge since there are no scheduled classes for an hour and a half starting at noon each week day. This time is also used by student organizations for extracurricular lectures, debates and meetings.
The Law School has several programs to foster social interaction between LLM students, JD students and members of the faculty:
- International Fellows Program – The purposes of the program are to bring LLM students into the social networks of JD students, give JD students an opportunity to develop friendships with lawyers from all over the world, and have both groups experience some of the activities available in Chicago. The LLM class is broken down into nine groups of seven or eight students. These groups are arranged so that the membership in each group will include LLM students from as many different countries and regions as possible. Each group also has four JD student organizers, known as International Fellows. Early in the Autumn Quarter, the Law School will plan informal lunches where each of the groups will meet their members and begin planning the activities for the year. Each group will be given a budget of $1000 to spend on their activities over the course of the year. Each group will decide how it wants to spend its money. Ideally, the JD students will have a list of activities to suggest at the outset and all of the members of the group will discuss what activities they would like to do.
- National Dinners – These events are designed to encourage LLM students to have some social events focusing on their respective cultures. The Law School will provide a subsidy of up to $750 to the organizers of any dinner with a national or regional theme and food to which all of the LLM students in the Program are invited to attend.
- Faculty Lunches - The Law School will provide free lunches at the Law School where a member of the faculty has been invited to attend. The purpose of these lunches is to give small groups of students a chance to meet members of the faculty outside of class in an informal atmosphere. These lunches are organized by individual students and are limited to no more than ten students and a member of the faculty.
LLM students participate in social activities beyond the Law School community. The famous campus Halloween Party, organized in late October each year by law and business graduate students from Belgium, draws students from all over the University. There are several annual social events with students in the LLM Program at Northwestern University School of Law: a skating party, a reception, and a soccer match. Read more about the broader arts and culture opportunities available to LLM students in Chicago.
The five-day weekend of Thanksgiving in late November marks the beginning of the "examination season" at the Law School. Since most LLM students cannot return home for the weekend like many of the JD students, there is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the LLM students. Autumn Quarter examinations end around December 10 and most LLM students celebrate with last minute holiday shopping in Chicago before returning home or traveling during the three-week vacation.
The Winter Quarter brings a new set of courses and seminars. Many LLM students participate in an employer interview program in New York City in late January. Social events during the quarter include the Law School auction (where students and faculty put up various goods and services for bid), the Over-the-Hump Party (a gathering at one of Chicago's many clubs to mark the half-way point of the year) and the musical show (a student organized production with several surprise faculty performers). A Super Bowl party (the championship game in the US professional football league - not soccer!) for LLM students is hosted by a member of the faculty in his or her home in February. Throughout the year, the Law Students Association (the student government which includes two LLM representatives) organizes subsidized trips to Chicago theaters and professional sporting events. The quarter ends with examinations in March and a 10-day vacation which many JD and LLM students take in the warmer parts of America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
The academic pace in the Spring Quarter quickens. Papers for seminars and workshops begun earlier in the year become due around May 15. Graduation follows about a month later. A bar review course for New York is offered at the Law School through July, and most of the LLM students taking the New York examination prepare in Chicago. Major social events during the quarter include a formal dance, a dinner for all graduating JD and LLM students, and a picnic for LLM students and their families the night before graduation in June.