Q:  What do 25 international Supreme Court or Constitutional Court clerks, a former Napa Valley sous chef, a legal advisor to the Prime Minister of Iceland, a champion ballroom dancer, and four active-duty U.S. JAG officers have in common?

A:  They are all among the Graduate Program participants beginning their studies at HLS this week.

On August 17, Harvard Law School’s Graduate Program officially welcomed the LL.M. Class of 2023 to campus: 184 students representing 63 countries and jurisdictions, from Afghanistan to Vietnam, who will spend the upcoming academic year pursuing a Master of Laws degree.

The law school’s LL.M. program attracts students from a variety of legal systems, with diverse backgrounds and career plans. As is typical, 98% of this year’s class hold law degrees from law schools outside of the United States or Puerto Rico. Many of these students already hold advanced degrees in law and/or additional degrees in fields ranging from accounting and business to historic preservation, genetics, international relations, literature, and national security, among others.

More than 80% have completed two or more years of law practice, teaching and/or advanced studies. They include lawyers in private practice, government officials and policy experts, law teachers, prosecutors, judges, doctoral students, Fulbright scholars, U.S. Army, Coast Guard and Navy JAG officers, and Supreme or Constitutional Court clerks for courts in ten countries.

Their interests outside of the law are just as diverse: they include accomplished novelists, poets, dancers, composers and musicians, former nationally and internationally competitive athletes, an emoji designer, a former police constable, and many avid sports fans, foodies and travelers.

In addition, nine students are beginning their studies for the law school’s most advanced degree, the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.). These new candidates — who bring experience as law teachers and research fellows, advisors to cabinet ministers, a law firm associate, an international women’s rights activist, and two Supreme Court clerks — join 41 continuing S.J.D. students at HLS. Together, they represent 27 countries and jurisdictions.

HLS has also welcomed five international students from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Sciences Po Law School in France, two of our exchange partner schools. These students will spend the fall semester here, pursuing J.D.-level studies or doctoral-level research.

The students’ first week on campus includes a welcome breakfast and introductory remarks by Professor Gabriella Blum LL.M. ’01 S.J.D. ’03, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies; Catherine Peshkin, Assistant Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies; and senior Graduate Program administrators, and a welcome reception for the students and their families. In addition to course consultations with their advisors, and a wide range of information sessions and social events, they will also experience their first Harvard Law School lecture:  a talk by Professor Michael Klarman on the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. The students will also complete a special one-credit course on U.S. legal research, writing and analysis, offered only during Orientation, which continues until September 2.