Yinuo Zhang '13
The UVA LL.M. program is a diversified, small group full of elites of the legal industry, which makes it distinguished from others. As a student coming straight from college, I enjoy talking with and learning from my peer students, and more so from my professional fellow students from all over the world in different legal practice areas that I haven’t had a full chance to explore.
What’s more, LL.M.s here get to taste a lot of J.D. experiences. We are dispersed into classes of J.D.s. Sitting in a class with the smartest students in the country, I am very much inspired by the open-ended class discussions and the back-and-forth interactions with professors and various professionals who are teaching at UVA law.
The close relationship between the students and the faculty is another highlight of UVA Law. All faculty and professors are very friendly to international students. I even took a professor to lunch [through a program the Law School offers] and had a long conversation with my professor about the subject of the class and my personal development.
With no doubt, my year here was a challenging but intellectually inspiring experience. And I really wish it could be longer.
Normally it is easy to talk about a top-tier law school: high teaching standards, U.S. News ranking, excellent professors. However, UVA goes far beyond that. First, the diversity of its students creates a special place, especially for foreigners. Charlottesville's quality of life is undoubtedly one of UVA’s big secrets. I don’t know if C’ville is so good because of UVA or vice versa. Another important factor is the relatively small group of LL.M.s, which creates a great environment for integration with J.D. students. This really increases the learning experience, as does the amazing availability of professors. Last, but not least, UVA’s traditions (softball, Feb Club, Outside the Box Lunch, and several others) are the cherry on top.
UVA provides a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. The academic program is tailored to suit your exact interests, and integrates LL.M. students into J.D. classes in a way that allows you to gain from the classes exactly what you put in. The LL.M. program is small enough to feel like a big family, and large enough to provide exposure to wonderful, different cultures. The school provides excellent support to LL.M. students, and emphasizes extracurricular activities that offer something for everyone. I felt like I was a part of this integrated community from day one, and have formed lifelong friendships and contacts with students and professors.
I cannot ever forget the first time I was called on by a professor in Contracts class among almost 100 students. Even though he started with a simple question, like “Who is the plaintiff,” I still felt so stressed. Needless to say he kept asking me a series of questions about facts and legal issues, and we went back and forth in the following 20 minutes. I was shocked. However, this was such an invaluable opportunity to experience the on-call system and Socratic Method found in American law schools. After being totally exposed to the J.D. program and taught by the best of faculties, I believe getting an LL.M. at UVA has been the most worthwhile choice for me.
If you are still deciding on an LL.M. program at the University of Virginia or elsewhere, you are standing exactly where I was standing a year ago. Now I ask myself: “Would it have been better to study the master of laws somewhere else?” To answer this, I did not need to think much. There is no way would I have done an LL.M. program somewhere else, and, if possible, I would love to repeat the wonderful year that has just gone by. These are some of the reasons: selective recruiting, cultural diversity and equal treatment (we take J.D. classes).
Finally, the most important thing for me — at UVA Law I was not only able to develop my academic and practical knowledge of law, improve my language skills, learn about other cultures and share a year with an elite international group, but I also made dear friends for life.
For me, the really amazing thing about studying at the University of Virginia School of Law is that the LL.M. program is perfectly embedded into the U.S. legal education for J.D. students. The very small and exclusive program allows you to share all classes with American students. Since the classes are very much based on oral participation, you are offered the unique chance to exercise your argumentation and discussion skills at eye level with native speakers.
Moreover, UVA offers exceptional academic freedom in terms of individual choice of classes. There is no precast set of topics you are bound to. Instead you are free to choose whatever first-, second- or third-year classes you are interested in. You can, for example, concentrate on corporate law classes and combine them with real estate law. If you prefer, you can also spice up your schedule with some totally unrelated classes like constitutional law or law of war, a class offered in cooperation with the affiliated U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School.
The outstanding study conditions at UVA are framed in an environment of exceptional recreational value. The city, the countryside and Charlottesville’s central location on the U.S. East Coast offer literally endless possibilities to explore with your friends from school.
These are just a few of so many reasons that cause UVA students to have lifelong affection for their alma mater — a phenomenon proven by the huge number of classes taught by dedicated and successful alumni from all over the world.
Legal education from one of the top-10 law schools, combined with probably the best student-life experience in the United States, is what awaits you at UVA Law. Here at UVA, you will be taught by the some of the most well-known legal scholars in the US, as well as some of the best legal practitioners, including state Supreme Court Justices, "Big Law" attorneys, and top investment bankers. This diversity and prestige provides you the great chance to gain unique legal insights. The relatively small but highly diversified student profile of the LL.M. class at UVA also provides you with an incomparable opportunity to know your fellow classmates well, experience different cultures and most importantly, make friends from all over the world.
Yet another great feature about UVA Law is the student life. The different student organizations like the Virginia Law Outdoors Club, the Virginia Law Wine Club and the Rod & Gun Club offer you a broad range of extracurricular activities and exceptional opportunities to interact with JD students as well as professors outside of the classroom. The annual Foxfield Horse Races, the legendary Feb Club, the North Grounds Softball League and the weekly Bar Review are just a few events among lots of others organized by the students themselves. Outside of the Law School, my classmates and I enjoyed the weekly concerts downtown during the summer, the Shenandoah Mountains and the many vineyards near Charlottesville during the fall, and the many Cavalier sporting events (football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, among others) throughout the year.
My LL.M. experience at UVA was like belonging to the U.N. General Assembly; the vibrant mix of students from various countries of the world certainly mimicked the U.N. One of the greatest assets of the LL.M. program at UVA is that it allows LL.M.s to take classes with the regular J.D. students. This helps international students learn about the American legal system by being a part of it rather than just being a fence sitter. The seminar courses offered do an excellent job of giving a taste of the “real deal,” something I never experienced in the law school of my home country. Apart from academics, UVA also offers amazing recreational opportunities. Be it kickboxing, Pilates, salsa dancing or hiking, you can do it all! It has truly been a joyride.
People here are incredible. Our outstanding faculty team is comprised of numerous prominent academic authorities and well-known pioneers in various areas of the law. Having these scholars enables an extensive exposure to the American legal system in a global setting, facilitating the road to success for future scholars or practitioners. Your LL.M. fellows in this relatively small but diversified group make your whole year inspiring, cheerful and entertaining. You will share a lot with almost each and every member of this group, not only in terms of cultural exchange, but also struggle and success. J.D.s, as our Peer Advisors, classmates, study-group partners, roommates, party hosts and guests, are awesome, and they offer tremendous help in all kinds of ways.
Charlottesville is a wonderful place to stay. It is a cozy town that allows you to focus on your studies. But it is also easily accessible to many big cities (e.g., D.C., New York) as well as so many great outdoor destinations (e.g., Shenandoah National Park). The extracurricular activities make your life colorful and enjoyable. In addition to all kinds of parties, cultural and sporting events, seminars and summits attracting first-tier professionals from academic and non-academic sectors, you can just as easily find yourself enjoying your spare time simply jogging or biking around the most beautiful campus in the nation.
Among other experiences, the three-day sleepless journal try-out and later serving on the Virgina Journal of International Law were highlights, both challenging and rewarding. You’re pushed beyond what you think you’re capable of. These experiences and those like them help you to build up critical habits and form new strengths.
There is something special about the University of Virginia — amongst many other things you are constantly humbled by history, standing on the shoulders of Thomas Jefferson and his intellectual progeny. As a top-10 law school, at UVA you are at once intimidated by the rigorous courses, formidable students and professors — truly the cream of the crop — but at the same time you are inexorably asked to step up your own game and contribute to the legal community here in Charlottesville. Apart from the classes in which you study with J.D. students and are taught by highly engaging professors, during lunch and after hours there are a whole host of interesting seminars, conferences and colloquia held at the law school where you can supplement your American legal education, presented by esteemed public figures and practitioners in the United States, many of whom are UVA Law alumni. During my time here, I’ve attended numerous dinners at professors’ homes; they are warm in their welcome of international students and interested in our legal careers and lives.
Unlike most top-10 law schools, UVA has a reputation for collegiality and a healthy social life in addition to academics. I was encouraged to get involved in extracurricular clubs and societies, law journals, softball games and public service projects in the Charlottesville community. You can socialize well with J.D.s and other LL.M.s at the Corner, downtown, and at various marquee events held by the Law School throughout the year.
The best thing about studying for an LL.M. at UVA is spending time with and getting to know your fellow LL.M. students. Perhaps because of our small number, we formed close ties and strong friendships during our year here. I was impressed by the caliber of my LL.M. colleagues — leading lawyers and scholars in their home countries — and learned from them as much as I did from the classes I attended. For any lawyer looking for inspiration — be it through escalating their skills in the corporate sector, immersing themselves in constitutional theory or in igniting their passion for public service, like me — studying an LL.M. at the University of Virginia School of Law is the place to go.
The LL.M. program provided me with a first-class education in graduate legal studies. The year at UVA Law was the most amazing and rewarding experience in my life. I finally understand why the law school is called the “academic community” after becoming part of the community. UVA Law has the some of the most reputable law professors in the U.S. and some of the most intellectually vibrant students. Top public officials, judges and lawyers are often invited to share their public service or practice experiences with UVA law students. Two business law courses I am taking this semester are instructed by partners from leading law firms. The academic community enables every member to have the opportunity to learn from the best through the teaching of law from diverse perspectives. Besides, professors are very accessible outside of the classroom. It often happens at UVA Law that many professors will invite students to lunch or to attend social events at their homes.
Both the Law School and the city of Charlottesville are fairly international-student friendly. I enjoy both hanging out with Law School friends and the beautiful natural scenery of Charlottesville.
Upon arriving in Charlottesville, LL.M.s are immediately made to feel part of the proud community that is UVA Law School. This is hugely important; many of us had never been to Charlottesville and all of us had traveled a great deal to be there. The warm reception you receive both by the staff and the students is enough to assuage any hesitancy you may have had during your journey. The attention that each UVA LL.M. receives is a product of, and a testament to, the experience of the staff and the relatively small size of the program. UVA Law’s strengths in the classroom are well known; the professors by whom you will be taught are among the top legal minds in the country. What really sets Virginia apart from the others, however, is the professors’ approachability. Each is eager to discuss any point, large or small, legal or otherwise. A conversation on the intricacies of a case has been known to morph into debate over international politics, and the next thing you know you’re talking sports. Furthermore, if you happen to be a foreign LL.M., your insights are always enjoyed and bring a much appreciated added dimension to classroom discussion.
A great characteristic of UVA’s LL.M. program is the fact that its small-group approach allows for quite strong bonding among students. J.D.s are also usually very receptive and make us feel welcome. Professors at UVA truly encourage class discussion and comments are always welcome. Law School facilities are state of the art, allowing for versatile classes. You can experience highly multimedia-mediated classes to more traditional lectures and seminars with small group discussions. If you want to experience a more hands-on approach, UVA’s clinics are the way to go. I have taken the Environmental Law Clinic and loved it! I am quite happy I have made my choice to come to UVA and I am certain of the uniqueness of this experience.
Highly qualified faculty members, supported by a wide collection of legal resources, are exactly what UVA Law provides. In the classroom, not only are LL.M. students mixed with J.D. students, but the low number of students per class in the upper-level courses provides a more effective learning process because students can be involved more in discussion with the professor and classmates.
The program does not just concentrate on how to add value to your legal knowledge, but also on providing you with non-academic activities that can support your academic performance. Through the Peer Advisor Program, the LL.M. students are involved in a number of UVA Law community activities, including softball and learning about different aspects of American culture.
It is hard to describe in a few sentences the enriching experiences accumulated during the UVA Law School LL.M. program. I don't want you to think that this is just mere puffery. Based on my UVA Law experience I strongly believe that as your studies here progress you will feel similarly.
To prove my point I would like to list some of the perks of living and studying in Charlottesville.
- Outstanding, experienced and very friendly faculty and supporting staff.
- The freedom to craft your own set of classes based on your interests.
- A small group of carefully selected LL.M. students from different countries. You will get to make really good friends here. I especially enjoyed the evening barbeques with fellow LL.Ms, the different continental parties held during the entire academic year, and sports group activities which brought the LL.M. peers together.
- Beautiful Charlottesville with its amazing campus and friendly residents. The main campus is included on the UNESCO list and was built according to Thomas Jefferson's architectural plans.
- If you like sports and prefer active rest, I think UVA is the perfect place for you. The large number of high-end sporting facilities will help keep you in shape during the whole year.
These are only some of the highlights of studying in Virginia. I really encourage you to apply. You will be satisfied.
Choosing UVA for my LL.M. program has been one of the smartest decisions of my life. When I arrived, I was introduced to the academical society that Thomas Jefferson planned for UVA students in Charlottesville. Being with only 38 LL.M.s from around the world has been an excellent experience; I got to know them and to exchange experiences with them. The professors I had were also amazing. They were always willing to help me and to answer my questions. The possibility to have such close relations with them was one of the features I appreciated about the UVA academical village experience. These are the reasons why I will never forget my year at UVA, and the reasons why I advise others to choose UVA’s LL.M. program if they want not only to study at a first-rate university but also to have the experience of living in an awesome place.
Come to UVA Law; I believe you will cherish the memories, just like me.
The LL.M. at UVA Law School is probably one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of my life. At the outset I felt committed to succeed in the program. Studying for the LL.M., I met very talented lawyers from all over the world, and to spend time with them and J.D. students in and out of classes was an enriching experience. In different courses I was able to learn and understand the evolution of legal reasoning from a different standpoint. To think like a lawyer is a concept that I expanded here and it will be an important part of my future performance beyond legal issues.
Finally, as a family man, I came to Charlottesville and UVA with great expectation. And we got much more than we expected. Charlottesville is a great place for families. Every season of the year has its own special attractions. We take with us great moments that we will enjoy for the rest of our lives.
Carmen Tiburcio is an international law consultant and a professor of private international law at the School of Law of the State University of Rio de Janeiro. She was chosen to lecture on private international law at The Hague in 2017, one of the highest honors for scholars. Tiburcio said studying at Virginia Law "was a fantastic experience both at the personal, academic and professional levels."
One of the things that made Virginia stand out was its library. "I know many other libraries, both in the U.S. and in Europe, and I have no doubt to affirm that UVA´s law library was the best I have ever known, not only because of its collections but mainly because of the fantastic librarians who helped me a lot during the completion of my LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees."
Tiburcio said she intends to visit the UVA law library to prepare for her 2017 Hague course.