LL.M Program Frequently Asked Questions
What is an LL.M degree?
LL.M. is an abbreviation for the Latin expression Legum Magister, meaning Masters of Laws. The Washington and Lee LL.M. program is a one-year graduate program leading to an LL.M. in United States Law.
What degree is required for admission to the LL.M. program?
Applicants to the Washington and Lee LL.M. program must hold the first degree in law from an accredited law school or law faculty in their home countries.
Will an LL.M. in U.S. Law qualify me to practice in the U.S.?
In general, the answer is "no," although it may be possible for an LL.M. graduate to become licensed to practice law in the state of New York.
To practice law in the United States, one must first obtain a license, which is issued by the state in which he or she desires to practice. A license will generally be issued by a state only if the applicant has received a degree from an accredited United States law school and if that school certified that the applicant is qualified to seek admission to the bar of that state. In general, Washington and Lee will certify that its students who have completed the three-year J.D. program are qualified to seek admission to the bar in any United States jurisdiction.
On the other hand, consistent with the approach taken by other United States law schools, our policy is not to certify that our students who have completed only the one-year LL.M. program are qualified to seek admission to the bar of any state. For this reason, in most cases, a person holding an LL.M. in United States Law will not be eligible to receive a license to practice law in most United States jurisdictions. An exception applies in the case of admission to the bar of the state of New York, which allows applicants to take the New York bar examination upon verification of successful completion of the LL.M. degree; in other words, New York does not require the school to certify that the applicant is qualified to seek admission to the bar.
For information on admission of foreign lawyers to the New York bar, see http://www.nybarexam.org/Foreign/ForeignLegalEducation.htm.
For further information on the licensing of foreign lawyers in the United States, you may want to consult the following publication of the American Bar Association: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/publications/compguide/chart9.pdf.
When should I apply for admission to the LL.M. program?
You should submit your application as soon as possible. The deadline for submitting an application is March 1 of the year in which you intend to enroll.
For the 2013-2014 admissions cycle, we will only accept LL.M applications submitted electronically via LSAC.
Do I need to register for LSAC's LLM Credential Assembly Service?
Yes. All LL.M applicants are required to register with LSAC's LLM Credential Assembly Service. To register, go to llm.lsac.org.
Does W&L Law require a transcript of my grades?
Yes. We require official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs from which you earned a degree. All transcripts must be submitted electronically via LSAC's Credential Assembly Service. If a transcript does not show class standing, request that the institution provide an estimate of such standing, if possible. Official statements by schools regarding class rank and grades should also come to us in sealed envelopes, signed or stamped across the seal by the appropriate school official.
Applicants accepted for the LL.M. program who are currently in their last year of schooling for the first degree in law will be asked to provide additional final transcripts and proof of degree upon graduation.
Do I need to know my class rank?
Yes. Each educational institution from which you earned a degree must forward an official statement of your class rank to LSAC. If no official class rank is available, you must provide an estimate of your rank and description of how you calculated it.
Do I need letters of recommendation?
Yes, we require two letters of recommendation from people who are either law faculty, lawyers or judges with whom you have worked. These letters should discuss your suitability to participate in and complete our LL.M. program.
Does my application need to include a writing sample?
Yes, as described more fully in the application instructions, you must furnish us a writing sample and a personal statement, both written in English.
How and why must I document my ability to pay for the program?
Enrollment in the LL.M. program is contingent on the applicant presenting proof of sufficient financial resources. In the ordinary case, this proof will be in the form of a letter from the applicant, a letter from the applicant's sponsor (if applicable) and a letter from a bank or other financial institution verifying that the applicant or the applicant's sponsor has funds sufficient to cover the anticipated expenses. If you have obtained a scholarship to study in the United States, the scholarship provider must send us a letter stating its commitment to provide funds for your LL.M. studies, stating specifically the amount of the funds so provided. We require this proof to ensure that you will be able to complete your studies without financial hardship. In addition, as explained below, United States government regulations require that we obtain such proof before we issue a Form I-20 A-B, a necessary step toward your obtaining a visa to study in the United States.
What are projected expenses for LL. M. students for the 2013-2014 academic year?
Please see our Tuition and Fees page for cost details.
Do I have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
Yes, your application will not be complete until you provide us with a TOEFL score, unless we grant you an exemption. Washington and Lee will consider granting an exemption if you are from an English-speaking country, if you earned your first law degree in an English-speaking country or if you earned another academic degree in an English-speaking country.
What is the minimum TOEFL score?
The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 600 on the Paper-based test, 250 on the Computer-based test and 100 on the Internet-based test.
When should I register for the TOEFL?
As soon as possible, and you should register to take the exam at least two months before the exam is administered.
How do I register for the TOEFL?
Information about registering for the TOEFL is available at www.toefl.org. When applying for the TOEFL, please include the following information about Washington and Lee:
- institution code: 5887
- department code: 03
- department name: School of Law
Do I have to attend an ESL (English as a Second Language) program?
If your TOEFL score meets our minimum for admission, but we believe you would benefit from some additional language instruction, we may condition your admission into the program on your satisfactory completion of an approved, intensive English language course before commencement of your LL.M. studies. Several such programs are available in Virginia and surrounding areas.
Do I need a visa to be eligible for study in the U.S.?
In most cases, the answer is "yes". Most students who attend an LL.M. program do so under the authority of an F-1 visa, for which you must apply at the United States Embassy or Consulate located in your home country. To be eligible for an F-1 visa, the student must receive a Form I-20 A-B from Washington and Lee, which will be issued by the university only after (i) you have been accepted to our LL.M. program and have paid all required deposits; and (ii) you have provided us evidence of funds sufficient to cover the full course of study and living expenses while enrolled in the program. Additional Information about visa types and the application process can be found at: http://www.wlu.edu/x19650.xml.
What housing options are available for LL.M. students?
Washington and Lee will not be able to offer on-campus housing for the 2013-2014 academic year; however, there is also plentiful and affordable off-campus housing available in Lexington and the surrounding area. Information and advice on housing in Lexington is available on our off-campus housing website.
How do I learn more about life in Lexington?
Lexington, Virginia is a beautiful and historic town located in the Shenandoah Valley just three hours southwest of Washington, D.C. and a forty-five minute interstate drive from Roanoke, Virginia. More information on Lexington is available on our Life in Lexington website.
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