College of Law diversifies, new LL.M. program

Photo by FIU, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Camila Fernandez/Asst. News Director

Prospective foreign attorneys from countries like Nigeria, El Salvador, Italy, New Zealand, Argentina, Vietnam, France, Belgium, Costa Rica, and Croatia will set soon foot at FIU’s College of Law.

These are the incoming students for the newly instated Master of Laws program for the fall 2014 semester.

With an annual tuition fee of $19,734, FIU is the first public university to offer an LL.M. degree in South Florida. It is a nine-month program that runs from mid-August to mid-May and is based on 24 credits.

The program is a post-graduate course in law for lawyers who have completed their first law degree in another country. It allows foreign attorneys to have a year of exposure to U.S. culture and its system of common law.

They can choose courses of their interest, or take required courses for the New York bar exam.

According to Associate Dean of International and Graduate Studies, Matthew Mirow, the program will promote diversity and an international projection for the students and faculty.

Mirow said that some of the richest experiences he had while in law school were with LL.M. students as he learned about them and their legal systems back home.

“It’s that informal type of education that I think is really exciting. It will create an even greater international atmosphere in these halls,” said Mirow.

The only other comparable program nearby is the University of Miami’s own LL.M.  program, with an approximate tuition of $45,200.

This makes the FIU College of Law a more affordable option.

Also, the College of Law’s LL.M. program offers an equal amount of tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students.

“It means that the cost of our program is very competitive against other local programs and national programs. It’s not that expensive,” said Mirow.

LL.M. students are not eligible to take the Florida bar exam, but they can take the New York bar exam and practice law in New York.

If they want to take the Florida bar exam, they must first graduate with a Juris Doctorate degree.

Thus, according to Julie Beineke, coordinator of International and Graduate Studies, the program was planned for students who want to practice law outside of the U.S.

“Mainly it’s for lawyers who want to practice outside. They’re getting the background in U.S. law system here and then it will help them practice international law, or just general law, outside,” said Beineke.

With a bar passing rate of 44% for the foreign educated, Mirow said he has made it clear to incoming students that chances of passing the New York bar exam are slim.

“If you want to study and prepare, it’s possible. As long as you know the risks, that’s fine,” said Mirow.

Nevertheless, LL.M. graduates who opt to return to their country, will leave with the background information that will permit them to do an international practice from home.

Mirow said the program will not be an easy, watered-down experience for its students.

“Here you are in this culture and this type of law school – this is the experience that you get,” he said.

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