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What’s What Law Student Handbook

Joint JD LLM Program

General Information

Lewis & Clark Law School offers a joint JD/LLM degree program in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. The joint degree is designed for Lewis & Clark law students who would like to obtain both a JD degree and Master of Laws (LLM) degree.

When the JD and LLM degrees are pursued separately, it generally takes a full-time student two to three years to earn the JD degree, and one additional year to earn the LLM degree (26 credits). The joint degree program will allow Lewis & Clark law students to receive the LLM degree in just one additional semester beyond their JD studies. Students are allowed to apply a portion of their Lewis & Clark JD credits to the LLM degree.

The joint program is available only to students who will receive their JD from Lewis & Clark. Students who earn their JD from another law school may apply for the LLM at Lewis & Clark as a separate one-year degree program, but cannot apply any credits earned as a JD towards the LLM.

Application of Credit

Joint degree students must first complete all requirements for the JD degree and then move into the “LLM phase” of the program. JD students must complete all requirements for the JD degree and officially graduate from the JD program before beginning the LLM phase of the joint program.

During their final semester as a JD, joint degree students will register for one credit of the first semester of the two-credit two-semester LLM seminar. (Students will register for the second semester of the LLM seminar in the LLM phase.) While this one credit will be taken while the student is still a JD, it will apply only to the LLM degree and not to the JD degree. This means that each joint student will begin the LLM phase of the program with one credit already earned toward the LLM seminar. (Note that the seminar is not graded or considered completed until both credits are completed.) There will no tuition charged for this first credit of the LLM seminar taken as a JD student.

Up to 12 credits of approved environmental and natural resources classes earned as a JD can be applied towards the LLM degree. In the LLM phase, the student will then complete the number of additional credits of approved coursework needed to total at least 26 credits. JD students entering the joint program are required to take Administrative Law and Environmental Law as a JD; however, the credits earned in these classes will not count towards the 12 credits that can be applied towards the LLM degree. Please note that even if a student completes more than 12 credits of coursework in the environmental and natural resources curriculum as a JD, no more than 12 of these credits can be applied to the LLM degree. If a student earns less than 12 credits of applicable coursework as a JD, it may take more than one semester to complete the LLM phase of the program depending on the amount of credits needed.

There is no minimum amount of environmental credits a student must take as a JD student to apply to the LLM degree; however, the fewer environmental credits taken as a JD, the more credits the student will need to take as an LLM. If a student needs to take more than 17 credits in the LLM phase, the student will need to take more than one semester of the LLM phase, absent unusual circumstances. See “Applicable Classes” below for more information on classes taken as a JD that will apply towards the LLM degree.

Admissions Process

Applicants to the joint program must first be admitted to or already enrolled in the JD program at Lewis & Clark. There are two possible times an applicant can apply to the joint program: at the same time the applicant applies to the JD program (available to JD applicants for fall 2009 or later) or during the second year of JD study.

(1) Applying at same time as JD application:

Applicants (for fall 2009 and later) who wish to be considered for admission to the joint program prior to starting the JD program should check the “joint degree” box on the JD application form and include a short additional statement of 1-2 pages with their application materials regarding their interest in and qualifications for the LLM degree.

Admission to the JD program is a prerequisite for admission to the joint program and joint degree applicants will first be considered for admission to the JD program. If admitted to the JD program, an applicant for the joint degree will then be passed to the committee that determines LLM admission. Applicants will be notified of admission to the JD program prior to being notified of admission to the LLM program and may be asked to make a decision regarding the JD program prior to being notified if they have also been admitted to the joint program. An applicant will still be considered for admission to the JD program alone if not admitted to the joint program. Applicants who are not admitted to the joint program at the time of JD admission are welcome to apply again later under the second method described below.

(2) Applying after beginning the JD program:

 Students may also apply for the joint program after beginning the JD program at Lewis & Clark. For optimum consideration, please submit applications between March 15 and August 1 of your second year. Earlier applications may be accepted if earlier decisions are needed (but not prior to completion of at least two semesters of JD study) and later applications may be accepted if there is room in the class. Students applying under this timeframe will complete the standard LLM application and include a statement of interest in and qualifications for the LLM program, as well as the other requirements for LLM applicants. (See the LLM application and related Web pages for more information.)

As noted above, JD students who are accepted into the joint program will take the first semester of the LLM seminar in their final semester as a JD and so should leave room in their JD schedules for this one-credit seminar. This one credit will be applied to the LLM seminar for the LLM degree and will not apply towards the JD degree. No tuition will be charged for this first credit of the LLM seminar taken as a JD student.

Note that the LLM program may be limited in size in any given year and will also include graduates of other law schools who are pursuing the LLM degree as a separate program. A student admitted to the joint program who subsequently wishes to withdraw from the joint program and pursue only the JD degree must give written notice to the Program Director by no later than the first week of the student’s final semester as a JD student. Students who wish to withdraw from the joint program after this date must pay a fee of $250.

Transfer Students

JD students who transfer to Lewis & Clark from another law school may be eligible to apply to the joint degree program. However, transfer students must receive their JD degree from Lewis & Clark and must earn at least 10 approved credits at Lewis & Clark as a JD that can be applied to the LLM degree. One class, of up to three credits, earned at the prior law school and that is transferred to Lewis & Clark, may be applied to the LLM degree with prior permission of the Program Director. Visiting students who will not receive their JD from Lewis & Clark are not eligible for the joint degree program.

Admissions Criteria

The same criteria used to determine JD admission generally at Lewis & Clark will be applied to applicants to the joint program for the JD phase of the admissions process. In determining admission to the LLM phase of the program, the LLM admissions committee will look for applicants with an outstanding academic record, excellent writing skills, a demonstrated interest in environmental/natural resources law, and a compelling expression of interest in receiving both degrees.

Requirements for JD Degree

Students in the joint degree program must meet the same criteria for the JD degree as all other JD students in terms of required credits, papers, and all other graduation requirements. In addition, joint degree students must meet the requirements for the LLM degree, described below, as well as applicable requirements for the LLM in general described elsewhere in “What’s What.”

Students entering the joint program are required to take both Administrative Law and Environmental Law as a JD. However, the credit earned in these classes cannot be counted as part of the 12 credits applicable to the LLM program.

Requirements for LLM Degree

Credits and GPA

LLM students must earn a minimum of 26 credits. Joint degree students will be allowed to apply up to 12 approved credits from the environmental and natural resources law curriculum earned as a JD towards the 26 credits needed for the LLM degree. (See “Applicable Classes” below.) LLM students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 in order to receive the LLM degree. The GPA for joint degree students will be calculated cumulatively from the credits earned as a JD that are applied to the LLM degree and the additional credits earned in the LLM phase of the program.

Students who are admitted to both the JD and the LLM programs prior to starting the JD program must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 in all classes taken as a JD in order to retain eligibility for the joint degree. Students who are admitted to the joint degree program after beginning the JD program must also maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 in all classes to retain eligibility. In addition to an overall GPA of 2.50, JD students must also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 in the eligible classes they wish to apply to the LLM degree.

LLM Seminar: 

Joint degree students are expected to meet all of the other criteria for receiving an LLM degree, including completion of the required two-semester LLM seminar and its accompanying paper. The LLM seminar paper is in addition to any papers a joint degree student may have written as a JD, including papers written to meet JD graduation writing requirements.

As noted above, joint degree students will register for one credit of the first semester of the LLM seminar in their final semester as a JD. While this credit will be taken while the student is still a JD, it will apply only to the LLM degree and not to the JD degree. This means that each joint student will begin the LLM phase of the program with one credit already earned toward the two-credit required LLM seminar. The student will then register for the second semester of the LLM seminar in the LLM phase of the program for an additional credit. Students do not receive a grade in the LLM seminar until completion of both semesters. Students will select a topic for their seminar paper in the first semester of the seminar, but will not be expected to complete it until the second semester of the seminar.

JD students will not pay any tuition for the one credit of the LLM seminar taken as a JD. They will, however, pay for the second credit of the LLM seminar in the second semester in the LLM phase. The LLM seminar will not count as the required seminar needed to receive the JD degree.

LLM Thesis Track:

There are two “tracks” in the LLM program: a non-thesis and a thesis track. A thesis is a six-credit writing project reserved for exceptionally motivated and qualified students who wish to develop a substantial publishable piece of writing. Because joint degree students will complete the LLM degree in a shorter period of time than if they were pursuing the LLM degree separately, pursuing a thesis as a joint degree student is only allowed for those students who can demonstrate the highest level of aptitude for writing and for completion of a thesis in a timely fashion. Opting for the thesis track as a joint degree student will mean a student is highly unlikely to complete the LLM phase of the program in one semester.

Timing

Absent unusual circumstances, joint degree students are expected to begin the LLM phase of the program in the fall or spring semester immediately following receipt of their JD degree. A student who completes the JD degree in May, may choose to begin the LLM phase of the program in the summer following receipt of the JD degree; however, a student may not complete all of the remaining credits needed for the LLM phase of the program in the summer only. Students must take at least the final credit of the LLM seminar and complete their LLM seminar paper in the following fall semester.

Depending on individual circumstances, we anticipate that a student enrolled full-time in both the JD and LLM phases of the joint degree program will generally be able to complete both degrees in seven semesters, assuming the student takes close to 12 credits of applicable credits as a JD More time will be allowed for those students who choose to pursue one or both phases of the program on a part-time basis. Each degree must be completed within the following overall timeframes: a JD must be completed within 84 months of beginning the JD program and an LLM degree must be completed within 2 ½ years of beginning the LLM phase of the joint degree program.

In order to be considered a full-time student (important for some loan repayment systems and the school’s health insurance), you must be enrolled in a minimum number of credits in any given semester. Please consult with the Program Director, Registrar or Student Financial Services office regarding the minimum number of credits needed in any given semester.

Students who wish to take a temporary leave of absence or withdraw from either the JD or LLM phase of the program should consult the relevant sections of “What’s What” for important information, including permitted lengths and circumstances for leaves of absence and the impact of leaves of absence and withdrawal on tuition.

Considerations in deciding whether to pursue a joint degree

Obtaining an LLM degree is not for everyone. It will require at least one semester’s worth of work and tuition beyond the JD degree. The LLM degree is not a required degree to take any bar exam in the United States and employers rarely require a job applicant to hold an LLM degree in addition to a JD degree. The JD is the qualifying degree to take a bar exam and to practice law in the U.S. (with a few exceptions) and, in most cases, Lewis & Clark students will find that obtaining the JD degree, along with the Environmental and Natural Resources Certificate, provides adequate opportunities for employment.

However, for some students, the additional LLM degree may be of benefit and will allow students to take additional classes, as well as pursue at least one additional writing project. In general, we encourage students to seek an LLM because they wish to pursue additional study in environmental law.

Tuition

Joint degree students will pay the prevailing JD tuition during the time they are pursuing the JD degree. Once a joint degree student completes the JD degree and moves into the LLM phase of the program, the student will pay the prevailing LLM tuition for the remaining credits needed to complete the LLM portion of the program. LLM tuition is paid on a per credit basis while JD tuition is paid on a per semester basis. Consult our application materials or Registrar’s office for current tuition for each program.

Scholarships/Financial Aid

Note that scholarships that may be awarded to a JD student apply only to the time the student is pursuing the JD degree and will not continue once the student begins the LLM phase of the program. The law school is occasionally able to offer reduced tuition to LLM students based on exceptional need and merit. Joint degree students will be responsible for determining whether any other financial aid they may receive as a JD student will continue in the LLM phase of the program and are urged to consult with the Student Financial Aid office prior to admission to the joint program.

Limitations

  1. Environmental Certificate Joint degree students will not be eligible to receive the Environmental and Natural Resources Certificate. The Certificate is only available to students pursuing the JD degree alone.
  2. Gap in Time Between Degrees Under the joint degree program, students must pursue the two degrees consecutively, i.e., other than a summer, there will be no break between completing the JD degree and beginning the LLM degree. An exception may be made for those students who petition for a temporary leave of absence for extenuating circumstances.

A student who receives a JD degree from Lewis & Clark who later wants to apply to the joint program will not be eligible to do so. Lewis & Clark JD graduates are, however, welcome to apply for the LLM program separately at any time and complete an additional 26 credits.

Size of Program

As the joint degree program is new for us, we cannot predict the size of the LLM class or available spaces at this time. The admissions committee will do its best to admit as many qualified students as the environmental program can accommodate while still maintaining the quality of the LLM program. The program will include both Lewis & Clark students pursuing the joint degree program, as well as graduates of other law schools pursuing the LLM program. This ratio, as well as overall class size, will likely vary each year depending on applications and qualifications.

Applicable Classes

To obtain the LLM degree, LLM students must earn a minimum of 26 semester hours of credit with a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better. At least 18 of the 26 total credits must be from the environmental /natural resources curriculum. All classes listed as environmental/natural resources classes in the law school’s registration materials, including summer environmental classes, count toward the 18 “environmental credits”, except Administrative Law and Environmental Law. The two credits of the required LLM seminar do count toward the 18 “environmental credits”, as do the 6 credits of thesis, if a student elects to do a thesis.

A joint degree student may apply up to 12 credits of coursework earned from the environmental and natural resources curriculum during the JD phase of the program to the LLM program. All classes that apply towards the JD Environmental and Natural Resources Certificate as listed in “What’s What,” including environmental summer classes, are eligible to be applied towards the LLM degree with the exception of Administrative Law and Environmental Law. Students must take Administrative Law and Environmental Law as JD students for the joint degree program, but the credits earned in these classes will not count towards the 26 credits needed for the LLM degree. The GPA earned in the classes to be applied to the LLM degree must be at least a 2.50.

As noted above, during the final JD semester, a joint degree student will register for one credit of the LLM seminar. Even though this credit will be taken while the joint degree student is still a JD student, it will be applied to the LLM degree only and not to the JD degree.

Other limits on classes that can be applied to the LLM degree are:

  • Only one credit/no credit class, of up to 3 credits, earned as a JD, may be applied towards the LLM degree.
  • Only one individual research project on an environmental or natural resources topic may be applied towards the LLM degree
  • Students may petition to have one class, of up to 3 credits, taken at another ABA-approved law school, apply to the LLM degree. Consult with the Program Director prior to taking a class at another law school to determine eligibility.
  • If a student pursues an environmental externship while a JD student, the four graded credits of the externship can be applied to the LLM, along with up to three of the non-graded credits earned as an extern.

For more information, contact Associate Dean Janice Weis or Assistant Director Lucy Brehm at  jweis@lclark.edu or brehm@lclark.edu