Two-Year Students and Faculty Engage with Former Ambassador Williamson at GULC Event

Post by Profs. Heather Weger and Julie Lake

On April 24, 2024, just as the US was authorizing support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, current Two-Year LL.M. students (Salome Adeishvili, Vishnupriya Bhonsle, Zhicheng Hong, Junsik Park, and Daisuke Tomita) and faculty (Prof. Julie Lake and Prof. Heather Weger) attended a panel discussion titled “The War in Ukraine: Investigating and Prosecuting War Crimes.” Facilitated by Clint Williamson (former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and current Lead Coordinator of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine), the informative and somber panel featured analyses and advice from three war crimes experts with a focus on conflict-related sexual violence:

From left to right (Vishnupriya Bhonsle, Salome Adeishvili, Former Ambassador Clint Williamson, Professor Julie Lake, Professor Heather Weger, Junsik Park, Zhicheng Hong, Daisuke Tomita)
  • Davorka Čolak: ACA Prosecutions Coordinator, Senior Croatian War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Irisa Čevra: ACA Deputy Prosecution Coordinator, Senior Bosnian War Crimes Prosecutor
  • Ingrid Elliott: ACA Prosecutions Coordinator for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), UK Foreign Office Global Expert on CRSVanel

The Two-Year LLM Experience: Tzu-ching (Jin) Lin

By Tzu-ching (Jin) Lin, Georgetown LLM Class of 2024. Lin is a graduate of National Chengchi University and previously practiced law in Taiwan for five years.

I’m very happy to have the opportunity to share my two-year LLM experience at Georgetown Law. 

Before I started at Georgetown Law, I didn’t know much about Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM program. Initially, I thought the one-year program was too short, and pursuing a JD was too expensive for me. However, over these two years, I’ve gained valuable knowledge and accumulated local experience in the US.

So, I want to take this chance to share my LLM plan and experience, and offer some advice to future students considering this path. In this post, I’ll first outline my LLM plan and how I executed it. Next, I’ll share insights on finding externships. Finally, I’ll delve into my overall experience and provide some advice. My aim is to create a comprehensive two-year LLM guideline that can assist future students.

Through these two parts, I hope to convey that the two-year program isn’t just for those who aren’t proficient in English; rather, it’s an academic program where you can enhance your knowledge, skills, and accumulate practical experience in the US.

  1. LLM plan

Before enrolling in Georgetown Law, my plan was to enhance my legal writing skills and complete 12 credits to meet the NY Bar requirements during my first year. For my second year, I intended to enroll in an Environmental and Energy Law program, with a focus on international arbitration and energy law.

National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan

During the first year of Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM program, most classes are mandatory, eliminating the need to worry about registration. Instead, the focus should be on immersing oneself in the class material and understanding the US culture. In the Legal English I & II courses, taught by Professors Stephen Horowitz, John Dundon, and Benjamin Cheng, they not only guided us on how to read cases thoroughly but also provided a critical thinking aspect to help us better understand how to work with common law. This guidance proved invaluable, allowing me to read cases more efficiently in my second year. 

One unique aspect of the two-year program that I particularly enjoyed was the emphasis on Legal Writing. What made it special was having professors with both law and linguistic degrees. It felt like having a writing coach guide us in thinking like English writers and developing skills in crafting memoranda and academic papers.

Prof. Julie Lake

For example, Prof. Julie Lake, my instructor for the Fundamentals of Legal Writing course, was able to provide invaluable suggestions and guidance as I learned the process of writing a legal memorandum and an academic paper. She not only taught me the basics of English writing, but more importantly, she taught me how to analyze my own writing problems so that I could develop a method of self-correcting my writing. This enabled me to write very effectively and with confidence in the seminar class I took in my second year of the program.

To further support my goal of enhancing my legal writing, I also applied to become an advisor for the Georgetown Journal of International Law (GJIL) and was fortunate to be selected. As an advisor, my responsibilities included checking citations and even afforded me the opportunity to write posts for the GJIL blog on topics such as how arbitration awards from Taiwan can be recognized internationally. Typically, LLM students are not afforded the opportunity to publish notes in student journals. But if you’re motivated and know about opportunities like this in advance, you can gain writing experience that can be beneficial for your career.

  1. Externship

Additionally, for those interested in an externship, whether in the summer or the following spring, it’s advisable to start crafting a resume at the beginning of the semester.

Lin (center) with some of his classmates in Prof. Horowitz’s Legal English I class.

In general, LLM students are usually limited to one externship opportunity, and some two-year students may opt to undertake an externship during the summer. However, if you enroll in Georgetown’s Environmental and Energy Law LLM program, you have the chance to pursue a second externship, as it is a requirement for the program; otherwise, you would need to take a practicum course. Personally, I completed my first externship in the summer and my second externship in the spring. As a Two-Year LLM program student, you can utilize “Pre-completion OPT” (i.e., Optional Practical Training) after completing your first academic year. I used this option to secure an internship during my second year, accumulating three local experiences in the US., which I believe will enhance my job prospects.

For a Taiwanese lawyer without international experience, finding an externship in the US. can be challenging. However, there are ways to enhance your chances. Firstly, it’s crucial to prepare a  resume, cover letter, and writing sample, as these materials play a more significant role than you might think. They not only align with the American culture of job hunting but also reflect the effectiveness of your written communication – how well you can showcase your strengths in concise terms. Regarding resume and cover letter, the staff of Georgetown Law’s Office of Graduate Careers are always ready to help. But for me I think the most helpful material was their “Career Manual” because it contains numerous templates, which are extremely helpful when writing an American-style resume and cover letter.

Secondly, adopting the right mindset is essential. Many may think, “My English is not good enough,” or “I lack relevant experience, so I won’t be able to find an externship.” However, sometimes, it’s not just about language skills and experience; it’s about having the courage to try. As Prof. Yi Song, Executive Director of the Office of Graduate & International Programs at Georgetown Law, wisely advised me, “You have nothing to lose, just try it.” With this mindset, I believe that you can successfully secure an externship during your LLM.

  1. Conclusion

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity. You can choose to travel around and experience different cultures, or you can opt to focus on building up your professional skills. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of personal choice. 

Lin (back right) at end-of-semester bbq party at Prof. Horowitz’s home.

However, when you choose to enhance your professional skills, don’t limit yourself to just studying at school. You can add vibrant colors to your study abroad experience by actively engaging with professors and seeking externships. This advice holds particularly true for those interested in a two-year program. 

With more time at your disposal, you have the opportunity to explore your interests, resources and deepen your professional knowledge. So, be sure to approach this journey with passion and enjoy every moment of it.