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New Master’s of Law targets international students

Stanford Law School is putting the finishing touches on a new Master’s of Law (LLM) degree program in International Economic Law, Business and Policy (IELBP), set to roll out this fall. The program will offer the first masters-level courses at Stanford in several areas in the hopes of increasing the University’s appeal to international students interested in business law.

The program, one of three LLM programs offered by Stanford, would accept 12 to 15 students who have already received their primary law degrees internationally.

“It is part of our attempt to develop a more globally-oriented law school program,” said law Prof. Alan Sykes. “We’re trying to build up our international business program, which we believe will be good for our students as well as for the school.”

Sykes, who now leads the program, first pitched the idea for the international business-focused LLM two years ago. A faculty vote held last May unanimously approved the program, and Stanford has already received applications for the fall of 2010.

IELBP will focus on four general areas: international dispute resolution, international economic law, comparative business law and international transactions.

By increasing its focus on international students, educators at the law school hope that American students can learn about foreign law systems and cultures–while offering foreign students a chance to experience Stanford’s unique academic environment.

“[The students] all graduate with an enhanced set of skills and knowledge, as well as an international network of friends and colleagues,” said Lucy LaPier, executive director for international graduate programs at the Law School. “It’s really a great example of the world getting flatter.”

Although all LLMs are open only to students who earned law degrees outside of the United States, Stanford’s current two programs–Corporate Governance and Practice and Law, Science and Technology–focus on American law.

“For masters-level programs, most students are foreign,” Sykes said. “American law students don’t usually go for masters degrees outside special programs like tax law.”

As IELBP will not hire any additional faculty members of its own besides one teaching fellow that will run a colloquium for the students, organizing the new program has not added any extra strain to the budget, Sykes said.

“In fact, programs like this bring in more revenue than they cost,” he said.

Stanford has not publicized the new program other than adding it to the law school Website, but program leaders believe it will prove attractive to foreign lawyers hoping to boost their credentials to possibly work in a United States law firm, or to return to more prestigious law firms in their home countries.

“Stanford’s programs are unique in that they are smaller than many other law schools’ LLM programs,” LaPier said. “The LLMs find Stanford to be a very challenging and rewarding place to study, and they make strong connections among both American law students and their international counterparts.”

The program has received about 180 applications for the fall, which will be reviewed in the coming months.

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