The American legal system is one of the most respected in the world. Lawyers in the US are right at the heart of the action. The US is where the landmark financial regulation Dodd–Frank Act was born. Here, you can observe the performance of check and balance thanks to the separation of powers between the legislature, judiciary and executive. It’s where robust freedom of expression and religious beliefs are vibrantly defended, inspiring nations all over the globe.
As exciting as this is, it can also be a little intimidating. Even for the best trained foreign lawyers planning to pursue their LLM in the US, entering the US legal system, or taking their US legal skills back to their home countries, a lack of strong English skills coupled with little background in US law can initially feel monumental, even impossible.
But this is no reason to hold back on pursuing your dreams of getting your LLM or becoming a lawyer in the US. Lack of exposure to the US legal system or language barriers can be easily overcome with the University of Miami’s Intensive Legal English + LLM program.
“The LLM with Intensive English Program can open doors for students that will change the course of their career,” says Carmen Perez-Llorca, Director of Miami Law’s International Graduate Law Programs.
Located at the crossroads of the Americas, the University of Miami’s School of Law (Miami Law) is the perfect base for foreign lawyers to propel their legal career forward. Its location in South Florida offers students an international perspective, as well as exceptional career-building and externship opportunities in courts, corporations and clinics.
In one of the largest private research universities in the country, the School of Law offers a General LLM in US and Transnational Law and eight specialized LLMs in Tax, Real Estate and more. Additionally, there are over 15 joint degrees together with the other premier graduate schools at UM, including the Frost School of Music, Miller School of Medicine, Rosensteil School of Marine Science and the School of Business Administration.
Since January 2016, foreign lawyers can take the three-semester Intensive Legal English + LLM to improve their English proficiency before proceeding with their regular course of studies. Whether you’re from Brazil, France or Saudi Arabia, this programme is the best launchpad to advance your career.
“The programme is a wonderful way to introduce students to the US law school and prepare them for their LLM. In ‘Introduction to Legal Communication and Writing’, students receive unique, specifically-tailored training to enhance their US legal reasoning, writing and communication skills. I have seen students successfully complete this Introduction course and then excel at the start of their LLM at Miami Law,” said Professor K Renee Schimkat.
One of the students is Yulianna Bukovskaya of Russia. Bukovskaya had completed her legal studies back home and set a goal to improve her English and job prospects.
“The Intensive Legal English Program was very helpful for me, as a non-native English-speaking student. My English-language skills have become more advanced in writing, reading and speaking.” After successful completion of the Intensive English component, Bukovskaya commenced her studies in Miami Law’s International Arbitration LLM program.
The program’s success boils down to its comprehensive design that serves to improve every aspect of students’ English language proficiency.
The first semester focuses on achieving the English language and communication skills needed to be successful in the LLM. In addition to Introduction to Legal Communication and Writing, students will learn about US legal research and the sources of law, on top of refining their oral communication, reading and writing skills.
In these classes, students don’t just receive instruction from lecturers but are active participants, too. There is consistent practice in reading, writing and preparing legal correspondence. To hone their speaking skills, they debate, role play and discuss, tasked to deliver at least two formal presentations on cases. Instructors and students monitor and edit grammar and pronunciation. At the end of the semester, students will be able to master both general academic and legal vocabulary in their oral and written communication.
The significance of this foundation can’t be overstated.
Lorena Senra from Spain was one of eight students in the Intensive English Program’s inaugural class before she transferred to the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law program. She wanted a high-quality education before starting work in the US, a country with opportunities she couldn’t find elsewhere. She found that at UM’s School of Law:
“Academically, the program helped me to become more proficient in English and improve my legal vocabulary. It also taught me specific skills necessary for law school, such as debating and the American style of writing.
“But the best part of the Intensive English Program is meeting people from different countries.”
Senra and all other students in the three semester LLM program are fully integrated into the Miami Law community, participating in the school’s academic networking and social events. Students forge close relationships with faculty thanks to a very low student-faculty ratio. This makes it easier for careful reviews of students’ work and assignments.
Indira Agrenot, a driven and successful lawyer from Cuba, describes her instructors in the Intensive Legal English program as the “amazing people behind the program”. She has since transferred to the JD program and plans to pass the Florida Bar Exam to pursue a career as a lawyer in the business field.
Miami Law may award up to twenty-nine advanced standing credits for foreign legal studies, based on a review of an applicant’s JD application file – a policy that helped Agrenot transfer to the JD program.
Agrenot wants other international lawyers like her to understand that a language barrier doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your dream. “I hope my story is an inspiration to fellow foreign attorneys that are considering joining this program that with hard work and effort, you can accomplish your goals.”