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SMU News & Media Relations
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August 29, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Thirty-four foreign law students, many of them practicing attorneys in their countries, began classes this week in one of the nation's oldest international master of laws programs (L.L.M.) at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law.

In 1952, long before there was a trend toward global legal studies, SMU established an L.L.M. program in international and comparative law. The rapid development of international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund after World War II created a need for post-graduate legal education in international law. SMU Dedman School of Law Dean John Attanasio says the program provides students with the legal skills needed for functioning in an increasingly global environment.

"Together with Harvard, Yale, New York University and Columbia, this is one of the first programs of its kind," Attanasio says. "The graduates of this program-- government ministers, justices, managing partners of law firms, and CEOs -- reflect its prominence."

The SMU LL.M. program counts among its graduates justices of the Supreme Courts of Japan, Korea and Taiwan and government ministers from Panama, Thailand, Costa Rica and Argentina. More than 1,200 lawyers from more than 65 countries have graduated from the SMU program.

But why would a lawyer trained in another country come to study at an American law school? SMU Dedman law Professor Joseph J. Norton, the James L. Walsh Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Financial Institutions, says the United States is the predominant influence in the global business arena and a force behind the policies of many international financial and legal institutions.

"Having a U.S. background will enhance significantly the professional abilities and marketability of these international law students, whether they go into private practice, government or academics in their home countries," Norton says.

During the one-year course of study the students will survey the Anglo-American legal system and be exposed to a broad array of international law, from international banking to international human rights. Many students specialize in areas such as intellectual property law, commercial law and dispute resolution. In the comparative law classes, Dedman School of Law offers courses on Japanese law, Chinese law, NAFTA, the European Union and business practices in Latin America.

This year the law school is expecting students from Brazil, Cameroon, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Thailand.