Editor's note: The Legal Studies Global Access Program brings international students to Berkeley for an interdisciplinary study of law, with a focus on U.S. law. This post originally appeared on the College Contact website in German. It has been edited for clarity and length.
Is law your thing? Would you like to spend a semester abroad at one of the best law schools in the United States? Then the UC Berkeley School of Law's Legal Studies Global Access Program (LSGAP) could be the program for you. Here, world-class professors teach about the American legal system with options to also attend courses in international law. Cohort dinners with renowned speakers help you build an international network and gain unique insight into legal practice.
We talked to Jonathan Marshall, Director of the Legal Studies program, to find out what kind of activities are offered outside of class each semester, and which courses are popular with international students.
Why was the Berkeley Legal Studies Global Access Program developed and what makes it attractive to international students?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: We have developed the Legal Studies Global Access Program to give international students the opportunity to receive a one-semester introduction to American law, which offers a wide range and individual flexibility [through LSGAP elective courses]. Two important aspects of the program distinguish it:
- Students are in classes with UC Berkeley students rather than in a stand-alone program.
- Students will take part in core courses presenting the key features of U.S. law and its application in technology and entrepreneurship, as well as an optional subject, all of which are included in the legal system. The Global Access Program is aimed at law students who want to learn more about the U.S. in context and are interested in law from the fields of history, philosophy, economics, sociology and political science.
Why was the Berkeley Legal Studies Global Access program developed and what makes it particularly attractive to international students?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: The Legal Studies Program is an undergraduate program of the UC Berkeley School of Law and is designed to provide undergraduate students with a critical introduction to law in the context of the liberal arts. The students learn how the law works in the economy, in politics, in the design of social relationships, in changed legal concepts and in cultural education.
International students benefit from being taught by Berkeley Law Faculty (and occasionally faculty from other departments on campus). International students study in the same classes with students from University of California at Berkeley.
The LSGAP curriculum consists of three required courses and some electives. Can you explain the "How to Berkeley" course and give some examples of electives that are interesting for international students?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: The "How to Berkeley" course is only for Global Access Program students. The idea was to convey institutional history about California law, UC Berkeley and the Legal Studies Program, and create a place where students can ask far-reaching questions. There are a number of electives available to current Global Access program students, including Wall Street/Main Street, Human Rights Research & Practice and Data Prediction & Law. These three courses are a good example of the multidisciplinary approach of law that is the hallmark of Legal Studies.
What do students learn in each course?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: Wall Street/Main Street is a team-taught course, featuring faculty from History and Law, where students explore the 2008 financial crisis from the perspective of both financial institutions and borrowers. In Human Rights Research & Practice, students learn not only about human rights, but also learn how to investigate human rights violations and how to tackle them. Data Prediction & Law encourages students to adopt the skills they learn in our data science class (such as statistics and Python programming) and legal issues such as punishment, policing and understanding to apply to historical texts.
LSGAP also offers many outside of class activities that take place on campus and in the San Francisco Bay Area. What are the highlights?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: Outside of the classroom this semester, students observed a court-martial (Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland) and administrative hearing (at the Immigration Hearing Office in San Francisco), and took trips to San Francisco and to explore nature in Marin County (both destinations are on the other side of the San Francisco Bay, but very close to Berkeley). There may also be other activities off campus. On campus, there are a number of lunches with speakers and related activities.
Do you think that LSGAP is also a good opportunity for international students considering an LLM at Berkeley Law School?
Dr. Jonathan Marshall: The Legal Studies Global Access Program is certainly a good preparation for international students considering LLM programs in Berkeley or elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Students learn to make both normative and empirical legal arguments, and they learn how the law works in the context of the United States. Students who excel in the program will be able to find professors to write referral letters for LLM programs, including Berkeley's. Students interested in Berkeley's program should consult with LLM admissions before submitting an application.