Law school adds, expands degrees
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The University of Iowa College of Law is offering several new and expanded degrees for students interested in further developing their legal careers.
The law school will offer a two-year path to the Juris Doctorate (JD) degree to international students who have law training from a foreign law school. The students’ advanced standing status essentially allows them to transfer their previous coursework to apply to up to one-third of their Iowa JD.
The law school has also expanded its Masters in Law (LL.M.) degree to allow students to focus on in-depth research projects, or more practical skills, and it has added a new doctoral-level research degree (Doctorate of Juridical Sciences or SJD) for those with academic aspirations. The advanced standing program and the expanded LL.M. are in place for this fall, and SJD degree will be added in the fall of 2014, once the accreditation approvals process is completed.
Marcella David, professor of law and associate dean of the law school, says the new degree and expanded programs will bring up to 20 students to the law school each year, most of them with international backgrounds.
“We have a long-standing tradition of excellence in our comparative law degree program and will continue to do so, and these new degrees will help us enhance our international footprint,” David says.
The new focus of the LL.M. degree gives students an opportunity to pursue studies covering the full range of U.S. law. The LL.M. degree had been focused on international and comparative law, and David says while that focus area will still be available, students will have expanded options for areas of study.
She says the LL.M. degree’s practical legal training path will allow students to explore a wide-range of legal topics common to the practice of law in the U.S., while the research path will allow for a more concentrated focus.
The new SJD degree, a doctoral level degree covering the law, will include one year of coursework and two to three years of scholarship culminating with a written dissertation. David says students will be admitted to the program only if current UI law faculty members have the background and interest in serving as advisors.
According to the American Bar Association, fewer than 50 law schools in the United States currently offer SJDs.
David says the new degrees will be especially useful for international lawyers who want to learn more about American law for their professional practice, or who want to practice in the United States and need U.S. credentials to take a state bar exam.
The degree can also help lawyers from other countries who move to the United States and want to practice here but need a law degree from here to take a bar exam.
David says the law school has already started to prepare for the additional students by offering a new and expanded orientation program for incoming international students, as well as its offerings for international students in the Legal Analysis, Writing and Research program.