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LL.M. Course and Writing Requirements, Recommendations, and Options

Note: Information in this section relates specifically to requirements for HLS degree completion. It does not relate to qualification for any bar examination or other professional licensing.

A. GENERAL

To obtain the LL.M. degree, students must spend the entire academic year in full-time residence and satisfactorily complete a course of study consisting of a minimum of 23 credits and a maximum of 27 credits in one academic year. The foregoing minimum and maximum include the one credit assigned for completion of the portion of the Legal Research, Writing and Analysis course that takes place during Orientation.

  • Minimum Credits by term: As an academic matter, all LL.M. degree candidates must register for at least nine to 10 credits in the fall term, at least eight to 10 credits in the spring term, and at least two credits in the winter term. In some cases, different minimums may apply for visa purposes.
  • Maximum Credits by term: LL.M. students may register for up to 13 credits in the fall term, up to 12 credits in the spring term, and up to three credits (in a single offering) in the winter term, not to exceed 27 credits for the academic year. Students typically enroll in nine to 11 credits in each of the fall and spring terms and two to three credits in the winter term. Any questions about academic requirements and maximum credits should be directed to the Graduate Program Office.

The typical study program consists of a balanced arrangement of courses and seminar work, subject to the approval of Jeanne Tai, the Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies or Nancy Pinn, the Director of Administration and Student Affairs for the Graduate Program. Graduate students normally enroll in from seven to nine courses/seminars in an academic year. A course ordinarily requires a written examination. Most courses at the Law School carry two or three credits; some courses, such as Corporations, Constitutional Law, Commercial Transactions, and Taxation, carry four credits. A seminar typically requires assigned written work, such as a series of reaction papers or a research paper, and generally carries two credits. A reading group carries one credit and does not require an exam. It should be noted that Law School classroom offerings—courses, seminars, and reading groups—are frequently referred to simply as “courses.”

All degree candidates must register for a full-time load of course and/or seminar credits in each term and regularly attend all class sessions. Failure to register for a full-time load of credits for any term or to attend classes on a regular basis will preclude eligibility for graduation. Please refer to the online Course Catalog for course information and requirements.

Additional course requirements for LL.M. students are described below. The Written Work Requirement is described also described below. The cross-registration process and guidelines for courses outside of the Law School are described in Section IV.

B. U.S. LAW COURSE REQUIREMENT, INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

LL.M. candidates who do not hold a J.D. degree from a law school in the United States (including Puerto Rico) are required to take one core course in U.S. law from the following list of “primary”courses:

Antitrust Law and Economics – U.S.
Contracts*
Civil Procedure*
Constitutional Law: First Amendment
Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers, Federalism, and the Fourteenth Amendment
Corporations
Criminal Law*
Evidence
Family Law
Legislation and Regulation*
Property*
Separation of Powers
Taxation
Torts*

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are first-year courses in the J.D. curriculum. The remaining courses on the list above are part of the upper-level curriculum. Descriptions of these courses can be found in the Course Catalog.

The Committee on Graduate Studies will consider petitions to substitute another substantive course in U.S. law. Petitions will be considered from students who have significant grounding in U.S. law or in a substantially similar common law equivalent (as determined by the Committee on Graduate Studies). Candidates may consult with the Graduate Program for suggestions on which courses might qualify as appropriate substitutions.

C. RECOMMENDED COURSES

The Committee on Graduate Studies strongly recommends that each LL.M. candidate also take at least one course focusing on legal history, legal theory, policy analysis, or legal process. In addition, students who hold a J.D. degree from a school in the United States (including Puerto Rico), and who are hoping to embark on a law teaching career, are strongly encouraged to take at least one course that is primarily focused on legal theory or jurisprudence. Students are invited to consult with Jeanne Tai or Nancy Pinn for further discussion of possible course selections in these areas.

D. Curricular CONCENTRATIONS

Students who are interested in the fields of corporate law, finance and governance, international human rights, or taxation may pursue a concentration in one of these fields. Each concentration consists of a series of requirements, as follows:

CORPORATE LAW, FINANCE AND GOVERNANCE CONCENTRATION

  • Corporate Governance: The Short-Termism Problem (fall) (Professor Mark Roe)
  • Capstone Seminar for the LL.M. Concentration in Comparative Law, Finance, and Corporate Governance (fall-spring) (Professor Reinier Kraakman)
  • Corporations (any section)
  • At least five credits combined from a list of designated courses in corporate law, finance and governance, provided to concentration applicants and on file in the Graduate Program Office

Students who are admitted to and elect to proceed with this concentration will be granted spaces in the Corporate Governance: The Short-Termism Problem course (if not already enrolled) and in the Capstone Seminar for the LL.M. Concentration in Comparative Law, Finance, and Corporate Governance. Students pursuing this concentration must register separately for all other concentration requirements.

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONCENTRATION

  • Human Rights in the UN Treaty Bodies seminar (fall-spring) (Professor Gerald Neuman)
  • Human Rights and International Law (spring) (Professor Gerald Neuman)
  • At least six credits combined from a list of designated courses in international human rights, provided to concentration applicants and on file in the Graduate Program Office

Students who are admitted to and elect to proceed with this concentration will be granted spaces in the Human Rights and International Law course (if not already enrolled) and in the Human Rights in the UN Treaty Bodies seminar. Students pursuing this concentration must register separately for all other concentration requirements.

TAXATION CONCENTRATION

  • Taxation (fall)
  • Tax Law, Finance, and Strategic Planning (spring) (Professor Thomas Brennan)
  • At least seven credits combined from a list of designated courses in taxation, provided to concentration applicants and on file with the Graduate Program.

Students who are admitted to and elect to proceed with this concentration will be granted spaces in a fall-term Taxation course (if not already enrolled) and in the Tax Law, Finance, and Strategic Planning seminar.

Further information about each of these concentrations is available from the Graduate Program Office.

An LL.M. student may not participate in more than one of the three available concentrations. Work successfully completed in conjunction with a concentration counts towards the requirements for the LL.M. degree. However, the concentrations will not, in themselves, satisfy the minimum credit requirements for the LL.M. degree. During course counseling, students should confirm that they are enrolled in a course of study designed to meet degree requirements. For international students pursuing a concentration, the requirement for a core course in U.S. law is satisfied by the course in Corporations (Corporate Law, Finance and Governance concentration), or Taxation (Taxation concentration). Students participating in the International Human Rights concentration will need to select at least one core course in U.S. law outside of the concentration requirements.

All of the concentrations provide opportunities for students to satisfy the Written Work Requirement for the LL.M. degree. Students enrolling in one of these concentrations whose primary law degrees are from the United States (including Puerto Rico) must do so by writing the 50-Page Paper, described below.

E. WRITTEN WORK REQUIREMENT

1. Description

All LL.M. candidates must register for and successfully complete a paper that involves independent reflection, formulation of a sustained argument, and, in many cases, in-depth research. The paper written to satisfy the Written Work Requirement must be an individual effort: group projects, works of joint authorship, and the like do not qualify for the Written Work Requirement. The paper may be written in conjunction with a Law School course or seminar that already requires a paper that would satisfy the writing requirement — commonly referred to as writing “in conjunction” with a course or seminar — or as an independent paper supervised by a member of the Law School faculty (including instructors with Law School teaching appointments). Where a student seeks to write a paper “in conjunction” with a course or seminar, it must be clear that (i) the offering already requires a paper, (ii) the paper is not in lieu of an exam or other assignment(s) of the course (unless such option is specified in the syllabus and available to all enrollees in the course on an equal basis), and (iii) the paper is an individual assignment and not part of a group project. Where there is no course or seminar in the field in which a student wants to work, candidates generally will be able to find a faculty member who will be available to guide research in the particular field.

Students who hold J.D. degrees from a law school in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) must write a 50-Page Paper (see description below). LL.M. students whose primary law degrees are from schools other than those in the U.S. may select either of the two options described below. The parameters for paper length and corresponding credits earned are as follows:

  • 25-Page Paper: one credit if written independently; no additional credit (beyond the associated course credit) if written in conjunction with a course that requires a paper
  • 50-Page Paper: two credits if written independently; one credit if written in conjunction with a course that requires a paper

The requirement cannot be satisfied with a series of shorter papers or journal entries, moot court briefs, clinical work product, or papers written for Independent Clinicals. As the foregoing list of exclusions is not exhaustive, students should confirm with the Graduate Program that the proposed format for their required written work meets the requirement.

2. Registration for Required Written Work

All LL.M. students must formally register for the Written Work Requirement by submitting the LL.M. Written Work Requirement Registration and Proposal Form to the proposed faculty supervisor for signature and, once reviewed and signed, submitting the completed paperwork to the Graduate Program Office by no later than the published dates set forth in the HLS Handbook of Academic Policies, and as also specified below. Details about the proposal will be provided by the Graduate Program. Faculty members may require additional preliminary information, such as a discussion of the subject matter, an outline, or a longer description. A student should submit the Registration and Proposal form, as well as any other material requested, to the faculty member well in advance of the published deadlines since faculty members may require additional preliminary work before accepting a proposal. Students writing the 50-Page Paper, or the 25-Page Paper in the fall term, must submit the signed Registration and Proposal Form to the Graduate Program Office by October 16, 2017. Students writing the 25-Page Paper in the spring term must submit the signed Registration and Proposal Form to the Graduate Program Office by February 2, 2018. Students who fail to register for the LL.M. Written Work Requirement by February 2, 2018 may be removed from the May 2018 degree list.

3. Supervision of Required Written Work

Students may ask any Law School faculty member or instructor with a Law School teaching appointment to supervise written work. Faculty on certain types of leave may not be available in a given term.

Writing credits under the supervision of visiting faculty ordinarily must be registered for and completed during the term(s) of the visitor’s appointment. Note that many visitors have Law School appointments for only one term. Students who are contemplating supervision by visiting faculty for projects that might fall outside of that faculty member’s term of appointment should contact the Graduate Program staff for guidance on this point.

4. Prohibition Against Compensation

Students may not receive academic credit for written work for which they also receive compensation.

5. Multiple Use of Papers

Occasionally students seek to submit one paper for two or more courses or seminars. In such cases, the paper must be of sufficiently greater scope or depth to warrant such multiple credit. In order to assure compliance with this requirement, any student planning to submit the same or similar written work in more than one academic offering must first get the approval of the Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs by submitting a memo that documents the project plan. The instructors involved should discuss appropriate ways to make sure that the submitted work meets this greater burden. This memo must be signed by the instructors for both courses and must set forth the way in which the paper will meet the added requirement described in this paragraph.

6. Human Subject Research

Law School projects involving human subjects are reviewed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB). Students considering research projects including surveys or interviews should review the University’s policies on use of human subjects in research available on the IRB Website and discuss their work with the Law School officer on the FAS IRB. Note that students should allow sufficient time for IRB review; late requests for review may not be granted.

7. Awarding of Additional Credit

On rare occasions an LL.M. student writing the 25-Page Paper may seek one additional credit where the paper significantly exceeds the original parameters in form (at least 25 additional pages) and in substance. Under the above conditions, the student may be eligible for such credit only through advance arrangements with the student’s faculty supervisor and with the approval of the Graduate Program and notice to the Office of the Registrar. The foregoing are the only circumstances under which an additional credit may be considered and granted, and all such conditions must be satisfied by no later than April 13, 2018 in order for such additional credit to be granted.

F. WINTER TERM WRITING PROGRAM

Students who wish to devote the winter term exclusively to pursuing their research and writing on a single piece of written work worth at least two credits, while in residence in Cambridge, instead of doing course work, may apply to the Winter Term Writing Program (“WWP”). Information and
applications will be available through the Graduate Program Office in October. Regardless of whether they plan to apply for the WWP, all students should register for a winter course since submitting an application does not guarantee admittance to the Winter Term Writing Program. If admitted, students will then have the opportunity to drop the winter-term course for which they had previously enrolled enrolled in order to take part in the WWP instead of taking a course. The WWP itself does not confer credit. Hence, the work done during the winter term must be part of a 50-Page Paper for which the credits are assigned to the winter term. Participants in the WWP are expected to structure their own time and efforts during the term. However, there will be a mandatory group session on writing issues before the end of the first week of the term, and each participant will meet with a senior member of the Graduate Program administration in mid-January in order to share insights, discuss research objectives, and identify areas where additional assistance may be needed.

Optional Written Work

In addition to the Written Work Requirement, all students have the option of doing additional written work for credit. With the agreement of the instructor, a student may do such optional written work for additional credit in conjunction with a Law School seminar or course, or on an independent basis with Law School faculty supervision.  These are excellent opportunities for pursuing topics in depth, for exploring issues beyond the formal curriculum, for developing publishable scholarship, and for tailoring the law school experience to the student’s personal interests.

A. Credits

LL.M. student optional written work may receive one or two writing credits and is expected to meet the standards for LL.M. Required Written work in form (at least 25 pages of text, of the student’s individual work, for one credit) and in substance. The number of credits granted for a particular piece of writing must be arranged in advance between the student and the faculty supervisor.

B. Registration for Optional Written Work:

Students must register for Optional Written Work by submitting the required registration form and proposal to the faculty supervisor for approval in advance and then to the Graduate Program Office by October 16, 2017 for fall term and by February 2, 2018 for spring term.  Forms are available in hard copy in the Graduate Program Office and online at /dept/academics/writing-at-hls/written-work-registration-forms/.

C. Research Assistant Work for Credit

Law School faculty members and instructors with a Law School teaching appointment have the discretion to give a student written work credit for writing done as a research assistant, subject to the following conditions:

  • In order to qualify for academic credit, the writing must be equivalent to work that would qualify for optional independent written work credit (which, for LL.M. students, is at least 25 pages of text for one credit). Research assistant work that does not qualify for academic credit includes cite-checking, research summaries without analysis, and compilations or summaries of data without analysis.
  • In no case may a student receive academic credit for research assistant work that is also compensated.
  • To register for Research Assistant Work for Credit, an LL.M. student must complete the required registration form and proposal and submit it to the Graduate Program in accordance with the section above entitled “Registration”.

D. Moot Court Brief for Credit

Law School faculty members advising moot court teams have the discretion to approve written work credit for a student for writing done as part of a moot court team, subject to the following conditions:

  • In order to qualify for academic credit, the writing must be equivalent to work that would qualify for optional independent written work credit (which, for LL.M. students, is at least 25 pages of text of the student’s individual work for one credit).
  • An LL.M. student may seek no more than one credit for involvement in a moot court brief, and must submit a narrative describing that student’s individual contributions—in terms of form and substance—to the final brief.
  • To register for a credit for a moot court brief, An LL.M. student must complete the required registration form and proposal and submit it to the Graduate Program in accordance with the section above entitled, “Registration”.

E. Required Consultation

LL.M. students must consult with Nancy Pinn, the Director of Administration and Student Affairs for the Graduate Program, before undertaking optional written work of any kind, the writing of a Moot Court Brief for Credit, or Research Assistant Work for Credit.

Optional Graduate Academic Offerings

The Graduate Program organizes several optional academic offerings for graduate students throughout the year. These offerings, which have come to play a central role in the intellectual and community life of Graduate Program students, include the LL.M. Writers’ Workshop, the Workshop for Short Writing Projects, the Byse Workshops, a year-long Law Teaching Colloquium, the Empirical Legal Studies Series, and the Graduate Forum. Participation is optional, and does not result in academic credit. Dates, times, and locations for fall-term workshops and colloquia will be provided in early September. Schedules and information for such programs throughout the year will be announced on the HLS Administrative Updates site and forwarded through the Graduate Program Listservs (see Section VII).

A. WRITING WORKSHOPS

Writers’ Workshop. Students writing the 50-Page Paper are strongly encouraged to participate in this extremely useful workshop designed to support students engaged in complex writing projects. This Writers’ Workshop helps students identify a topic and research question, develop a research design, formulate a proposal, and structure the research and writing phases of their projects. Students also receive help in identifying resources from Harvard Law School, Harvard University, and the greater Boston area that may enrich their projects. The Workshop is organized in small groups on the basis of participants’ research interests. Peer learning through regular group attendance and oral presentation is strongly encouraged. The Writers’ Workshop is different from the Winter Term Writing Program (WWP). However, the teaching assistants for the workshop’s small groups provide support for students who wish to apply for the WWP, the application for which requires a more elaborate research proposal than the one submitted in October in conjunction with registration for the 50-Page Paper.

Workshop for Short Writing Projects. Students writing the 25-Page Paper are strongly encouraged to take part in the programming presented through the Workshop for Short Writing Projects. This Workshop offers guidance to students in such areas as choosing topics and supervisors, writing research proposals, addressing methodological and organizational issues, and the like.

B. BYSE WORKSHOPS

The Byse Workshops, offered in academic areas of particular relevance to graduate students, provide in-depth treatment of the scholarship in their fields. The Workshops, led by the Byse Fellows, meet approximately every one or two weeks during the course of a semester. Discussion is generally organized around reading materials and/or an exposition by a workshop participant or guest speaker. The Workshops are offered on a noncredit basis. Participants who wish to write an independent paper based on the subject matter of a particular workshop may be eligible for one credit for the paper provided that the paper is at least 25 pages long and a faculty member serves as the supervisor of the paper.

The following Byse Workshops will be offered during 2017-2018:

Fall 2017
“Law and Colonialism: Legal Debates in the British Empire”
Ms. Priyasha Saksena

Spring 2018
“Critical Legal Thought in Contexts”
Mr. Pieter-Augustijn Van Malleghem

Detailed descriptions, meeting schedules, and related information will be provided in early September.

C. THE LAW TEACHING COLLOQUIUM

Offered in the fall and spring on a noncredit basis, this Colloquium is a series of information sessions highlighting various aspects of law teaching. In the past the Colloquium has drawn on the pedagogic expertise of faculty at Harvard Law School and other institutions to discuss issues such as pedagogical methods, how to develop research agendas, and various aspects of a career in law teaching. Topics may range from cutting-edge legal scholarship to internationalization to legal publishing to curricular issues. The Colloquium is designed for S.J.D., LL.M., and J.D. students who are contemplating a career in teaching, and has traditionally served as an interactive forum for students from the various Law School degree programs.

D. THE GRADUATE FORUM

The Graduate Forum, coordinated by two Graduate Program Fellows, offers graduate students an opportunity to express their views on legal and other issues outside the formal boundaries of the classroom. The Graduate Forum also coordinates social and integrative events for all graduate students and serves as a clearinghouse for ideas and suggestions. In the past, the Graduate Forum has taken different formats and directions; the unifying themes of these different formats have been designed to draw on the experience of all HLS students, to bring a comparative perspective to the matters discussed, and to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas.