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Northwestern, which already offers a two-year JD program, plans to launch an accelerated executive LLM program for non-U.S. law school graduates next year.

“There’s been an explosion of American LLM programs aimed at foreign lawyers who come to the states for a year,” says associate dean Mayer Freed. While Northwestern offers a yearlong residential LLM program and executive LLM programs in Tel Aviv, Madrid and Seoul, the university was “looking to provide an American LLM midway between” those offerings.

The accelerated program will run from May through August and can be completed in one or two summers. Students will spend five days a week and up to five hours a day in classes taught by Northwestern faculty where the focus will be on lawyers as strategic business advisers.

Accelerated LLM programs are rare, but the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall launched a program last year that, in 10 weeks over two summers, allows foreign students to meet educational requirements to sit for the California bar. The program began with 19 students, and this year the school anticipates doubling enrollment.

“Bloggers who’ve been critical of this kind of program assume that students won’t have to do as much work” as their counterparts in longer programs, Freed says. “But our belief is it’s just a difference in delivery. Nothing is sacred; the test is whether they’re learning.”

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