Source: Duke University - School of Law
Source: Duke University - School of Law

Change is disrupting the legal industry. Increasingly, the profession is looking to technology and design thinking to solve problems and promote justice. In a world where technology moves at the speed of sound, there is pressure on law schools and firms to update their offerings in line with how legal services are delivered.

This development in a new AI-driven automated economy calls for lawyers with skills outside of the black letter of the law. Today’s legal professionals need expertise beyond historical approaches and precedential decisions. They need business acumen, soft skills, and a flair for tech to get ahead of their counterparts. As one example, they’re set to face never-before-seen challenges when dealing with advanced AI or other unknown technology projects. Keeping abreast of this field — and beyond — can help them manage their risks and adapt to new circumstances, events, or knowledge.

Shifting patterns of globalisation also means it’s important to advance one’s know-how beyond the confines of home. In this, an LLM from a US university with a track record of embracing change is not only advantageous, but necessary. The best US law schools are well aware of this — and they have adapted their offerings to prepare students for the changes this modern world is demanding of legal practice. Here are four law schools that offer a legal education relevant in today’s digital age:

Duke University School of Law

“The best year of their life” — that’s how Duke University School of Law’s graduates remember their one-year Master of Laws (LLM) programme. Ambitious, innovative, and prestigious yet also collegial and supportive – this is a law school that offers a rigorous legal education that creates memories and impact lasting long after one graduates. Much of this is due to the combination of a small but highly diverse class, a faculty made up of world-class scholars who double as engaged and enthusiastic teachers and mentors, and a picturesque campus in a region known for its friendly hospitality, quality of life, and central location.

Such features bode well for its LLM programme, one of the oldest in the country. It’s designed to give graduates of foreign law schools a bird’s eye view of the American legal system, complemented by opportunities to pursue advanced courses in specialised areas of law, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, climate change, financial regulation, and more. A collaborative, supportive, and diverse environment enhances the cross-pollination of ideas here, as do Duke Law’s 18 centres, institutes, and programmes in which faculty, working alongside student research assistants, engage in cutting-edge research and education on a range of subjects of critical importance to the law, public policy, and society.

Support is available every step of the way. With a 5.9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, students benefit from personal guidance by passionate, creative, and caring teachers who are also renowned thinkers and writers, interdisciplinary researchers, and advisors to governments and non-profits. What’s more, the Career and Professional Development Centre is well-equipped to guide and support international students to join Duke Law School’s large and incredibly accomplished group of alumni. The centre includes a dedicated staff member with significant professional law experience to assist LLM students in their job search.

Duke Law School offers financial assistance to highly qualified LLM applicants, such as the Judy Horowitz Scholarship, Global Leaders Scholarship, scholarships for students with a proven commitment to environmental law, and many more. To apply for an LLM at Duke Law School, click here to learn more about their admission process.

Boston University School of Law

In Boston, a city renowned for its rich history and forward-thinking spirit, is a law school effortlessly shaping the legal landscape through rigorous academic pursuits and a fervent dedication to justice — it’s called Boston University School of Law (BU Law). Since its founding in 1872, this institution has successfully graduated over 25,000 alumni, who are now making an impact in over 100 different countries.

They’re working with patent clients at the forefront of technology’s advancements, proposing a novel tax that would allow humanity to benefit from private development of celestial properties, serving as a judicial clerk on a US federal court, and making career changes like moving from Brazil’s public sector to a Big Four accounting firm in Miami.

Such outcomes and countless opportunities are typical of graduates of BU Law’s four LLM programmes. These focus on American Law, Taxation, Banking and Financial Law, and Intellectual Property and Information Law. American Law is the general option, allowing students to freely select from over 200 courses and seminars from virtually every American law subject offered in the JD curriculum. Those looking to lay a solid foundation before specialising could opt for the Two-Year LLM instead. While giving international students more time to enjoy everything the East Coast has to offer, this route also dedicates one full year to helping them develop legal writing, case analysis, and advocacy skills.

All lessons are conducted by BU Law’s esteemed educators, who double as leading scholars and valued contributors to legislative, judicial, and policy-making decisions within the US and beyond. The lineup continuously grows, ensuring insights remain relevant and tomorrow’s lawyers receive the personalised attention they deserve. Just this month, BU Law welcomed 16 new full-time faculty — all representing diverse perspectives and backgrounds, reiterating the school’s core values and the very essence of its culture. To learn more about joining this dynamic intellectual community, click here.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Law

Talented, ambitious, and adaptable — these are some words to describe students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) College of Law. Since its founding in 1867, UIUC has earned a reputation as a world-class leader in research, teaching, and public engagement.

To pursue an education at the College of Law is a chance for students to reap the same benefits. Its faculty consists of industry leaders, acclaimed teachers, and interdisciplinary experts with a long tradition of equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and temperament they need to achieve professional excellence within the legal industry.

The College of Law has a rich history in graduate-level education. Their Master of Laws (LLM) programme is one of the oldest in the country. The college also offers Master of Studies in Law (MSL), Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD), and Visiting Scholars programmes.

Students in the LLM course complete 32 credit hours. With only two required courses, they can customise their LLM by choosing from over 100 courses offered by the college or learning across disciplines. Those who wish to deepen their knowledge in a particular legal field can apply for an optional subject-matter concentration with their LLM degree. 

Experiential learning complements classroom learning for a well-rounded legal education. Specifically, LLM students can join client counselling competitions, intern at the UIUC Office of Student Legal Services, earn pro bono notations, and many more. These will help them build the necessary practical legal skills to become competent legal professionals. 

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law 

Consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the nation, Berkeley Law is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). 

Berkeley Law’s cutting-edge legal tech and innovation programmes are helping people who need it most. At the AI, Platforms, and Society Centre, students, academics, practitioners, and technology companies are exploring technical and governance strategies to support responsible technology development and use. 

The school’s 14 law clinics — six at the law school and eight at the East Bay Community Law Center — offer students a foundation in law and practice while hands-on client work builds critical lawyering skills. They cover many areas of law, including seeking justice for people facing the death penalty, offering free legal advice, and addressing environmental justice. 

This complements world-class programmes like the LLM (Master of Laws). From entertainment law to advanced topics in corporate governance, students can choose from a wide range of elective modules to specialise in up-and-coming fields. Guidance comes from expert faculty (including a former San Francisco district attorney), unique simulation courses, and impactful law clinics like the International Human Rights Law Clinic, one of the first human rights clinics in the country.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International