Published September 17, 2014
Continuing to develop its presence in global legal education, SUNY Buffalo Law School has begun two new programs for international students.
The first – the Double LL.M. program – gives students the chance to earn two masters of law degrees – one in Buffalo and one in Lyon, France.
The second – the Advanced Standing Two-Year JD for Internationally Trained Lawyers program – gives international law students who already hold a law degree from a non-U.S. jurisdiction the opportunity to apply for advanced standing at UB. This allows them to earn a Juris Doctor degree in two years, rather than the standard three-year period.
Both programs began this semester.
The Double LL.M. program is presented in conjunction with the private Catholic University of Lyon (Université Catholique de Lyon or UCL), in east-central France. Students will enroll in UCL’s master of laws program in international business law and study there during the fall semester, then come to Buffalo for the spring semester as part of the law school’s general LL.M. program.
“Buffalo has long been a center for innovative, international legal education, and we are most pleased to build on this tradition with Lyon,” says Dean Makau Mutua. “It will be a wonderful and valuable experience for students."
The Buffalo segment begins with an intensive January course that introduces students to the U.S. legal system. At the end of the spring semester, they graduate with a master of laws degree from each institution.
The program builds on the strengths of both schools, not least of which is each school’s location. Lyon is in the heart of Europe, providing students with easy access to international and European institutions. Situated on the international border with Canada, Buffalo is at the crossroads of an internationally ranked research university and a vibrant midsize legal community.
The Advanced Standing Two-Year JD for Internationally Trained Lawyers program is for international law students interested in earning a law degree from an American law school a year quicker than normal.
The students completing this program would usually go on to take the New York State Bar Exam. So far, two students have been admitted to the UB program, which accepted its first students this September.
"We are very pleased with the students we have enrolled in the advanced standing two-year Juris Doctor program,” says Lillie V. Wiley-Upshaw, vice dean for admissions and student life.
“The enrollment of these two is just the beginning. The program is quite rigorous. The students will take all of the required courses as their first-year classmates. In year two they will take a scattering of other required courses and other classes that will begin to prepare them for the bar exam.
“We wanted to be sure that the students we enrolled in this first class were academically prepared for this intensive experience. We are very pleased with the results. Both students have demonstrated that they are ready to take on this challenge.”
The two students enrolled in the program’s inaugural class are Yuqing Tian, a native of China who attended the Minzu University of China, where she earned a bachelor of law and arts degree. She also earned her master's degree from UB, finishing with a 4.0 GPA.
Yuqing has an interest in intellectual property law. Prior to coming to Buffalo, she was a paralegal at Holybridge Law Firm in Jiangbei, Chongqing. Yuqing said she enrolled in the UB program because she recognizes the need for attorneys trained in both the U.S. and Chinese legal systems as China continues to move swiftly toward internationalization.
The program’s second student, Meron Amare, was born in Ethiopia and earned her degree from Mekelle, Ethiopia. In 2010 Amare began her studies in Oslo, Norway, at the University of Oslo on a full scholarship. She graduated in 2012 with her LL.M. degree in public international law.
While in Norway, Amare interned at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights. She moved to the United States in 2013 and began working for the Equal Rights Center in Washington, D.C. She volunteered with the CAIR Coalition, an organization based in D.C. that assists detained immigrants there.
Amare said her ultimate goal is take the bar exam and be able to practice law and work for the rights of the underrepresented by being part of an international human rights organization.
The program had 18 applicants. Wiley-Upshaw said UB hopes to increase the number of students enrolled in the program in later semesters.
“The law school is excited about the contributions these students will make in the classroom and to the law profession,” says Wiley-Upshaw. “We are looking forward to enrolling more students in the future."
The two programs add to the law school’s existing international presence and offerings, including a joint program with UB and the University of Glasgow School of Law. The two law schools have established an exchange agreement allowing law students in one school to study at the other. In addition, Buffalo law students will travel this January to take two new international courses. Associate Professor Meredith Kolsky Lewis will teach International Economic Law in New Zealand; and Professor Stuart G. Lazar will teach International Corporate Transactions in France.