- The Aspiring and Globalizing Graduate Law Student: A Comment on the Lazarus-Black and Globokar LL.M. Study
Mindie Lazarus-Black and Julie Globokar have written a research-rich and interesting study on U.S. LL.M. programs and the students who enter them. Their paper focuses on the dynamics of the application process for entering into an LL.M. program by examining “the perspectives and experiences of the administrators who make admissions decisions and the students who seek admission.”1 Lazarus-Black and Globokar build on the work of researchers who have been focusing on these and related issues for some time, including Carole Silver, Yves Dezalay, and Bryant Garth, among others.2 The authors do an excellent job of rigorously analyzing their core subject and [End Page 81] successfully answering the four key questions they set forth in their introduction:
Who gets accepted into LL.M. programs? Who does not? Which types of international, national, and local policies and laws must foreign attorneys navigate if they want to study in the United States? What kinds of political, economic, linguistic, and social capital must they demonstrate to gain admission to law school?3
Lazarus-Black and Globokar’s methodology is a nice combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques. The ethnographic research they conducted within two law schools (one located in the Midwest and the other on the East Coast) is particularly interesting. This research involved collecting important interview data from professors, administrators, and LL.M. students themselves. The authors’ study is a valuable contribution for two important reasons. First, it sheds crucial light on law schools’ strategies regarding their foreign graduate law programs. Second, the findings provide a menu of reasons for why foreign applicants wish to pursue an LL.M. degree. There is no doubt that observers who focus on legal education and the legal profession will greatly benefit from Lazarus-Black and Globokar’s thoughtful and insightful work.
Given that Lazarus-Black and Globokar’s entire article precedes this Comment in this special issue of the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, we will not summarize either their findings or the other detailed sections they provide. (We encourage readers to study these parts with careful attention.) Rather, and most interestingly for us, we plan to examine here a critical point in their work that relates to the complicated and nuanced issue of motivation—namely, the motivation of foreign applicants who wish to come to the United States to study. Before addressing this point, however, it is important to mention that the authors do discuss the motivations of law schools in seeking to attract LL.M. students. Law schools, for example, often embrace students from abroad who can add international diversity (socioeconomically, linguistically, racially, and ethnically).4 U.S. law schools are also interested in extending their networks abroad; recruitment of international LL.M. students in places of interest is a [End Page 82] good way to accomplish this objective.5 In addition, LL.M. students bring different perspectives to the classroom and offer important intellectual engagement to faculty, staff, and other students.6 And of course, law schools value LL.M. programs for financial support; the tuition paid by foreign LL.M. students is a significant means of revenue for law schools.7
In terms of the motivation of LL.M. students—which is our main interest—Lazarus-Black and Globokar rely on existing literature as well as offer their own set of reasons for what motivates this cohort to pursue this degree. As the authors note, motivation varies “by age, previous education, work experience, and, sometimes, the vicissitudes of legal practice in [the students’] home countries.”8 Still, Lazarus-Black and Globokar are able to find several general patterns that emerge despite these differences. To begin, the applicants see the LL.M. degree as offering an opportunity to enhance their professional career possibilities.9 Some applicants may aspire to work in the United States; others may have better opportunities upon returning home; and still others may hope to engage in cross-border work in multiple jurisdictions.10
Another reason relates to satisfying “personal” situations.11...