On July 31, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School virtually welcomed the LLM Class of 2021. The class was chosen from over 1,500 applicants from 70 different countries. While the COVID-19 crisis has presented major enrollment challenges for programs with significant international student populations, this year’s talented and diverse group of foreign-trained attorneys will benefit from a flexible and supportive hybrid model of instruction—all LLMs will have the option of participating entirely remotely if necessary.
“Penn’s LLMs, almost all of whom are non-citizens, are facing more obstacles than ever before,” said Elise Luce Kraemer L’93, Executive Director of Graduate Programs, “including inhospitable (and unpredictable) ICE rules, travel restrictions and quarantines, unfavorable exchange rates, decreased levels of sponsorship from employers and government scholarship funds, and increased obligations to support family back home.”
Nevertheless, said Kraemer, “this unique situation has also created unprecedented opportunities for remote learning. For example, the Law School is offering a class on Private Investment Funds taught by LLM and JD graduate Xun Zeng, Partner at Cooley, LLM, who will be teaching from Beijing. Additionally, some of the core large class offerings, such as Corporations, will be offered in the evenings to accommodate those taking the class remotely from Asia.”
LLMs begin their studies with a Pre-Term Program, taking U.S. Legal Writing and Research and Foundations of the U.S. Legal System, courses that allow students to get acquainted with the basic concepts and conventions undergirding the study and practice of U.S. law. Formerly known as the Summer Program, this program began virtually on Friday for some, but will take place in October for others, as some students will now begin their LLM curriculum in January.
“The administration at the Law School is working individually with incoming students to help them navigate this challenging environment,” said Kraemer. “Fortunately, we have the resources and support of our Dean and faculty to implement creative solutions.”
The LLM program at Penn is a one-year, full-time course of graduate study for lawyers whose first degree in law is from outside the United States. The 10-month program offers international students an enhanced understanding of American law. After the required Pre-Term Program courses, students design their own curriculum, which allows them to explore their particular areas of interest and take classes alongside upper-level JD students.
As part of the LLM program, students also have the option of pursuing the Wharton Business and Law Certificate, which is designed specifically for LLM students interested in international business. The certificate program is taught by Wharton faculty and industry experts, who prepare students to compete in today’s global legal environment.
Additionally, LLM students have the chance to develop their professional skills and get to know the different communities throughout Philadelphia by taking part in the LLM Public Service Program and the Law School’s clinical programs.