Are LL.M. students mere cash cows?

By Desiree Jaeger-Fine

I am writing this piece from the perspective of someone who is working at a law school as well as from the perspective of being a former LL.M. student myself.

Since my LL.M. in 2012, I have heard my fair share of conspiracy theories created by frustrated LL.M. students. “Law schools just want our money; they do not care either about our wellbeing or success, and they see LL.M. students as nothing more than a walking dollar sign.”

In business, a cash cow is a source that generates a steady return of profits that exceeds the cash required to start it. It is no secret that law schools are businesses and that businesses seek revenue.

The LL.M. program is such a source. But that does not mean that LL.M. students are just that. To the contrary, LL.M. students are integral to U.S. legal education and our law school communities.

I spent two months traveling through South America and Europe with administrators from many U.S. law schools. We all had in common that we were working with and for LL.M. students. We had many conversations in airport terminals, security lines, planes, buses, trains and conference centers, and I wish LL.M. students could have overhead these conversations.

They would have seen the dedication and devotion these representatives of U.S. law schools have for our international student body.

I spend this past weekend in D.C. attending the annual event of the Association of American Law Schools. There were a handful of sessions dedicated solely to LL.M. students and how law schools can better serve them. Spending a Sunday in a windowless conference room requires dedication.

In all my interactions with law schools over the past eight years, I was always impressed by the dedication of the staff and faculty to the success and wellbeing of their international student body.

For people who work with international students, it is not just a job; they believe in the value of cultural exchange and are devoted to giving international law students the experience they seek. We, as a community, are always striving to find new and better ways to serve our students.

LL.M. students are a valued part of the legal community, and law schools cherish the international dimension and cultural treasure these students bring to our legal education.


Desiree Jaeger-Fine is director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School and author of "A Short & Happy Guide to Networking" (West Academic Publishing) and "A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired" (West Academic Publishing).