Thank you, Dan!
At the AALS annual meeting last week, the topic of international students in US law schools was the focus of a number of sessions. These included a discussion about (i) fostering inclusion of international students enrolled in post-JD programs as well as encouraging their interaction with JD students, (ii) the ABA Section of Legal Education’s approach to gathering information and acquiescing in post-JD and non-JD programs that include international students and (iii) how law schools help international students in non-JD programs prepare for a US bar exam. The number of sessions that included some discussion of international students’ experiences in US law schools, coupled with the variety of participants in these sessions, is some evidence of the importance of this population to US law schools.
At the same time, many who work with the international student population remain frustrated with the absence of basic information about this group and their experiences in US law schools. For example, there is no public source of information reporting the number of international students in US law schools outside of those enrolled in a JD program, much less on the home countries of such students (law schools report the number of non-resident alien JD students in their Standard 509 reports). Demographic information about international applicants to post- and non-JD programs (including number of applicants, home country, age, gender etc) is not available, nor do law schools report on their funding of international students in these degree programs. My work on the careers of international LLMs remains the only empirical research on career trajectories and the ways in which international students experienced the value of a US LLM.
The AALS sessions did not solve this dearth of information, and comments by Bill Adams of the Section of Legal Education indicated that the Section is reluctant to add disclosure obligations relating to information that is not directly necessary for regulatory purposes. And information about applicants, law school experiences, funding and careers is not required for the Section to determine its position on acquiescence, which is the standard for non- and post-JD programs. But perhaps there is another reason for law schools to cooperate on disclosing this sort of information, related to what Theresa Kaiser-Jarvis of the University of Michigan describes as a business reason: to help US law schools make informed decisions in structuring the operating programs for international students, and to contribute to knowledge about the value of US legal education for these students.
My next post will take up the issue of the value of US legal education for international students.