West Virginia launches forensic justice LL.M.

West Virginia University College of Law is teaming up with the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences to launch an LL.M. program in forensic justice next fall. It is the first LL.M. of its kind in the country currently accepted by the American Bar Association.

Students in the one-year program will divide their time between specialized law and forensic science classes. The degree culminates in a seminar that integrates the two disciplines.

The new program was inspired by the 2009 study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences at the direction of Congress, which called attention to the shortcomings and needs of forensic sciences.

The program, which is courtroom oriented, is designed for judges and lawyers interested in learning about the forensic sciences and the legal use of science in the civil and criminal justice systems.

West Virginia University Provost Joyce McConnell initiated the creation of the program when she was dean of the law school.

“Forensic evidence is assuming an increasingly important role in both our civil and criminal justice systems,” McConnell said in a news release. “This new degree will help judges and lawyers understand the field of forensic science and better integrate it into the adversary system. That integration absolutely improves the system – and is essential to justice.”

Gerald Lang, chair of the Forensic and Investigative Science department, said the new LL.M. program will bring recent developments in forensic science into the courtroom setting. 

“WVU’s studies in the forensic sciences are leading to important knowledge in an area which has had little systematic study,” he said in a news release. “This program will enable our scientists to see that knowledge is translated into application in the courts across the country.”

Applications are currently being accepted. Those with a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school may apply.