The President’s Workshop was designed around the AALS Annual Meeting theme, "Global Engagement and the Legal Academy", and the title of the Workshop is "Do Law Schools Need a Paradigm Shift?" The Workshop had over 200 attendees from law schools across the U.S. and overseas.
Professor Edwards identified the many stakeholders involved in international legal education, and identified specific U.S. law school policies and practices that threaten the ability of LL.M. programs to meet stakeholder needs. He identified to cash cow, diploma mill, bait & switch, and LL.M. creep characteristics of LL.M. programs, suggesting avoidance.
He proposed the possibility of the ABA or another entity accrediting LL.M. programs, developing an LL.M. program Code of Conduct, creating a national council or association of international LL.M. students in the U.S. (with local chapters at different schools and in different cities, states and regions), and other mechanisms to help ensure that reasonable expectations of all LL.M. program stakeholders are met.
Professor Edwards noted that “Ideally all law schools around the U.S. would recognize the need to meet stakeholder needs. It’s good for the students. It’s good for the school. It’s good for public diplomacy, and the positive impressions we want our international students to form while here and take back with them to their home countries. It’s good for U.S. foreign policy, peace, and human rights around the globe when international LL.M. students come to the U.S. and join our programs, have excellent experiences, and return as ambassadors of what we have to offer.”
Professor Edwards stated “Cash cow, diploma mill, bait & switch, LL.M. creep or other dysfunctional or deficient LL.M. programs in the U.S. do not produce good ambassadors, and stifle the good that flows from our programs”.
Professor Edwards noted that frequently faculty and administrators of U.S. law schools ask him whether he thinks their schools’ LL.M. programs are cash cows or diploma mills. Professor Edwards stated “In LL.M. Roadmap I provide definitions of “cash cow” and “diploma mill”. Read those definitions, and the negative characteristics associated with them. Compare that to what your LL.M. program offers. You decide how to characterize your school and its programs. I believe that your current LL.M. students, prospective LL.M. students and graduates are making those assessments.”
When asked about cash cows, Professor Edwards stated “It’s fine for law schools to generate revenues from LL.M. tuition. Education at this level is rarely free. However, the question is what happens to the LL.M. revenue? Is it diverted to other programs, such as the J.D. program? Or is it used to benefit the LL.M. students, who have expectations?”
Professor Edwards delivered the invited plenary presentation on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Professor Edwards’ presentation was titled “Balancing the Interests & Needs of Stakeholders in U.S. Master of Laws (LL.M.) Programs for International Students: Avoiding “Cash Cows”, “Diploma Mills”, Bait & Switch, LL.M. Creep & Other Disappointments, While Furthering Academic, Professional, Diplomacy, Human Rights & Other Goals”.
Professor Edwards is The C.M. Gray Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and the Faculty Director (Founding), Program in International Human Rights Law. Also, he is the Faculty Director (Founding / Former), Master of Laws (LL.M.) Track in International Human Rights Law (LL.M. Program resignation effective May 2011).
Professor Edwards is the author of LL.M. Roadmap: An International Student’s Guide to U.S. Law School Programs (Wolters Kluwer 2011). All Professor Edwards’ personal profits from sale of LL.M. Roadmap are being donated to the International Law Students Association (ILSA) (www.ILSA.org), which administers the Jessup International Law Moot Court competition at over 500 schools in over 80 countries (www.ILSA.org). LL.M. Roadmap illustrations are by Mr. Kurt Ihrig with lettering by Mr. Greg Wagoner. The LL.M. Roadmap website – www.LLMRoadMap.com – has had visitors from over 1,350 cities on 144 different countries on 6 continents.