Planning the Common Law Reasoning, Writing, and Research Class for International LLMs

American law schools that teach international LLM candidates may require these students to take legal reasoning, writing, and research classes.  Such classes may be largely indistinguishable from the legal reasoning, writing, and research classes that first-year American J.D. students take.  Such an approach is problematic because international LLM students tend to have skills and needs that are different from those of their American counterparts.  First and most fundamentally, international LLM students who plan to return to their countries after they graduate may find that certain common first-year legal writing assignments have little relevance to their needs.  Second, international students who are already practicing attorneys may arrive with considerable experience in “thinking like lawyers,” even if the approach in a civil law system is somewhat different from that of a common law system such as the U.S.  Third, international students are likely to experience added difficulty with studying in English, as it will most likely not be their native language. After a brief review of the different skills and needs that international LLM students bring with them to an American law school, the presentation will focus on planning a legal reasoning, writing, and research class that is designed to better meet the needs of these students, and on how professors without a background in English as a Second Language can adjust their teaching style to better accommodate the needs of international LLM students whose native language is not English.  After the presentation, I will open the floor for discussion of both the differing needs of international LLM students, and of how American law professors can better meet those needs.

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