The briefings were held at the U.S. – Japan Educational Commission (Fulbright Japan), which also houses an EducationUSA Advising Center, supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
Professor Edwards, who the National Jurist identified as the “world’s leading expert” in U.S. law programs for international students, introduced the U.S. officials to wide-ranging topics related to Japanese students joining Master of Laws (LL.M.) and other law degree programs at U.S. law schools.
Briefing by Professor Edwards
Professor Edwards spoke about why Japanese students are interested in coming to the U.S. to study law, factors to consider when choosing a U.S. law school, how to get admitted and pay for the program, success in the classroom, and reaching career and personal goals after graduating from a U.S. law school degree program. He also briefed on his belief that international legal education promotes peace, security, fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Professor noted that recently enrollment in U.S. law schools has declined dramatically because the job market for law graduates in the U.S. has dropped off. Law graduates are having difficulty in finding employment, and students no longer wish to take out large loans to pay for high tuition if they cannot earn enough after graduating.
Professor Edwards said “It is a buyer’s market for international students seeking a U.S. legal education. U.S. law schools are actively recruiting non-U.S. students to help fill a gap caused by declining U.S. students.”
Professor Edwards discussed his new book LL.M. Roadmap Career Guide: An International Student’s Job Hunt After Earning a U.S. Law Degree, which is scheduled to be published in 2015.
Professor Edwards said “Virtually all international students joining U.S. law degree programs have employment aspirations for after they graduate. Law schools are obligated to help international students and graduates reach their career goals.”
Briefing by U.S. Embassy / Fulbright
The U.S. Embassy was represented in the talks by Ms. Rei Yakazami, Educational Outreach Coordinator / Country Coordinator – Japan, Public Affairs Section. The Japan-U.S. Educational Commission (Fulbright Japan) was represented by Ms. Chizuru Sasada (Senior Adviser) and Ms. Atsuko Ichikawa (Adviser).
The officials briefed on current trends on Japanese students joining U.S. educational programs, opportunities for U.S. students and professors to engage in short or longer term study or lecture opportunities in the U.S., recruiting strategies for U.S. law schools seeking to enroll Japanese students, and other international education work of the Embassy and Fulbright Japan.
They discussed plans launched by MEXT (Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) to support Japanese students going abroad for study. The plans include “Super Global Universities”, supported through 2013.
Instrumental in organizing the session was Ms. Rosie Edmond (EducationUSA Regional Education Advising Coordinator – REAC), who is also based at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Facts and Conclusion
For many years, Japan sent more students to the U.S. each year than any other country, but various factors led to Japan falling to seventh place, behind countries such as Saudi Arabia, Korea, China and India. In 2013 Japan sent over 21,000 students to the U.S. Most of these students are at the undergraduate level, but over 20% are at the graduate level. No accurate statistics are available on how many of these students were enrolled at U.S. law schools in law degree programs.
Professor Edwards, who is the author of LL.M. Roadmap: An International Students Guide to U.S. Law School Programs (www.LLMRoadMap.com) has given presentations or briefings at EducationUSA Advising Centers at U.S. Embassies or Consulates, Fulbright Commissions or other offices in over two dozen countries. Edwards is a The CM Gray Professor of Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law.