We got talking with Laura Tate Kagel, the Associate Director for International Professional Education in the Dean Rusk International Law Center.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am a graduate of the University of Georgia (UGA) School of Law and I serve as the Associate Director for International Professional Education in the Dean Rusk International Law Center.
I was an “older student” in law school, having previously studied and taught German language and literature. It’s never too late to try something new!
What made you choose law?
Studying law enabled me to explore new career interests and to develop new expertise. Having studied abroad myself helps me to appreciate the challenges even experienced professionals face in a new environment. I have a broad interest in law and enjoy working with international students.
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Who should do an LLM from abroad? Why should one pursue an LLM from the US?
Going abroad to pursue an LL.M. degree can be transformative for Indian lawyers. On the practical side, the skills gained in a law school with a rigorous program can be applied to a variety of professional settings.
Equally important, but perhaps less often noted, are the intercultural competence and the broadened perspective achieved through comparative law studies.
The international aspect of the experience encompasses friendships with an LL.M. cohort of lawyers from around the world as well as the day-to-day experience of interacting with American law students, professors, and lawyers.
Succeeding in law requires more than an understanding of legal rules; understanding legal culture is equally important.
What makes an ideal LLM application? What’s your best advice for writing SOPs, making CVs, and the interview process?
In writing the statement of purpose, applicants should seek to convey what motivates them, what they feel they have achieved so far, and how an LL.M. degree will help them pursue their goals.
A CV should be proofread thoroughly and contain precise dates for employment (month/year). Extracurricular activities, particularly leadership roles, can enhance the profile of the applicant.
What sort of financial aid is available at the University of Georgia?
The University of Georgia School of Law considers all applicants for generous merit-based financial aid, including graduate assistantships with full tuition waivers and Tuition Equalization Scholarships which allow international students to pay in-state/Georgia resident tuition rates.
What are the job prospects for a student from India who completes an LLM from the US?
LL.M. students advance their careers in a wide variety of ways after graduation. Our Career Development Office helps LL.M. students create a job search plan that suits their particular goals. Some of our international students return to their home countries and receive significant promotions.
Others stay in the United States to take advantage of work authorization through the Department of State’s Optional Practical Training program. Some of our students transfer into the J.D. program and receive credit for their LL.M. year, so that they can graduate with a J.D. in an additional two years.
Another attractive option is completing the business part of the two-year LL.M./MBA program offered in cooperation with the highly regarded Terry College of Business at UGA.
How should one go about her/his academics/credentials if one wants to work in the US? What courses do you have for such people at the University of Georgia?
Many of our LL.M. students decide to apply for a U.S. bar exam, such as the New York or Georgia bar exam.
Admission to a state bar naturally broadens the range of employment opportunities.
What does a day in your life look like?
My work is a mixture of recruiting and admissions on the one hand and student advising and programming on the other hand. In addition to the LL.M. program, I run the law school’s legal training as well as the visiting researcher and scholar program.
I always make time to get to know the LL.M. students individually so that I can help them think through their curriculum and career choices.
Parting advice for our young readers.
For young Indian lawyers who are thinking about studying law in the U.S., I would suggest taking advantage of opportunities to improve your writing skills, gain practical legal experience, and define your career goals.
All of these things will strengthen your application and help you make the most of the academic experience abroad.
For full details about the LLM program, please click here.
Full disclosure: Lawctopus is advertising the University of Georgia’s LLM Program.