Justin Swinsick on the Benefits of an International LLM Program

Personal & Professional Benefits of Studying an International LL.M.

DK: Director Swinsick, as you may know, Turkey has a civil law legal system. To become a lawyer in Turkey, students must complete a four-year Bachelor of Law (LL.B.), and graduates must also complete a one-year apprenticeship with a law firm and court. A Master of Laws degree is not required to be admitted to the bar and enter practice but highly preferred by new generation lawyers who would like to specialize in their legal practice. Could you please share your thoughts on the value of an international LL.M.? Considering that Turkey has a civil law system, what are the benefits that an LL.M. in the States would provide to the Turkish law graduates?

JS: I think an LL.M. from a U.S. law school is beneficial to any law student, regardless of where they received their first degree in law, for a variety of reasons. 

First, any attorney working with clients on international transactions will probably deal with U.S. law at some point in their career.  U.S. law has a very wide reach, especially in transactional work. Further, international transactions and interaction between parties in an international environment trend towards a U.S. style in terms of analysis and reasoning.  So, having an understanding of U.S. legal practice and how U.S. trained lawyers approach problems and problem solving, will be incredibly useful and can easily distinguish someone in the market no matter in which country they practice.

Second, an LL.M. in the U.S. is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen legal communication skills.  Obviously, working, studying, writing and speaking English on a daily basis is incredibly valuable, but doing so in the U.S. and learning the language of U.S. lawyers is especially useful.  Many legal terms used around the globe were developed and promulgated in the U.S. So, understanding what this “legalese” means, and how to properly apply it is incredibly valuable.

Third, the opportunity to develop your professional network and opportunities is especially unique at a U.S. law school.  U.S. law schools, like the University of Chicago, attract the best faculty, students and professionals from around the globe. This means that you have the chance to expand your network on a global scale in a way that would be otherwise impossible studying anywhere else in the world.

Finally, I can’t recommend enough the intangible personal and professional benefits that come from studying an LL.M. in the U.S.  Having the chance to completely take yourself out of your legal system and your cultural comfort zone and to force yourself to compare and contrast your system with that of the U.S. will make you a better lawyer no matter where you work.

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