“Look into it. You won’t regret the experience,” said my older classmate as I wrestled with the idea of taking on another degree while also completing my final year of law school. Sarah Skinner ’19 was the person who informed me of the unique opportunity that Campbell Law School offers through Nottingham Law School in England to receive an LL.M. in International Legal Studies while working towards completing your J.D. In the United States, Campbell Law School is one of a few schools who offers a chance for students to obtain the two degrees simultaneously.
At first, I was hesitant and unsure of whether the degree was worth adding to my already busy schedule. However, in the spring of this year, I decided to go to the interest meeting to learn more about the degree. During the interest meeting, the degree was pitched as an opportunity to explore an area of the law that you are passionate about through a production of scholarship while working towards earning the degree. I was sold, and the experience thereafter was more incredible than I could have imagined.
The preparation of my dissertation began with Professor Elizabeth Berenguer’s “Foundations of Critical Legal Thought, Research, and Scholarship” class, which is a required course for completion of the LL.M. In that class and through the use of her textbook, Professor Berenguer breaks down the preparation of scholarship into manageable steps. Prior to leaving for Nottingham to present on the topics of our dissertations, our class began to explore our relevant areas of the law and determine the questions that we wanted to answer with our research.
Fast forward to the beginning of October. Prior to traveling to Nottingham to present on my dissertation topic, I decided to spend a few days in London. This was my first time traveling internationally completely by myself. While I was nervous, I was very excited for the possibilities that awaited me when I landed and what adventures I would get to take. I spent two full days in London, where I got to see some of your typical tourist locations such as the Kensington Palace, the British Museum, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. I also quite enjoyed taking afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel. During my time in London, I found myself completely in awe of the beautiful architecture and the history that surrounded me. It was a wonderful detour on my way to Nottingham.
On my train ride from London to Nottingham, I realized that after weeks of preparation, it was finally time to present my dissertation topic to my supervisor and some of the faculty of Nottingham Law School. I couldn’t help but feel a wave of panic as I began to question if I was capable of producing scholarship worthy of earning a LL.M. How would I be able to present on a topic that I was just beginning to learn to a panel of some of the most-qualified legal professionals in the world? However, as soon as I arrived on the Nottingham Law School campus, all my fears were met with friendliness and a warm welcome from the faculty.
Dr. Janice Denoncourt, Dr. Matthew Homewood, and several other faculty members welcomed us into the law school with open arms. Throughout our time at Nottingham Law School, they made sure to provide superb accommodations, fascinating opportunities for us to learn about different topics pertaining to our research, and fun activities outside of our time at the school. The school provided educational sessions for our group on how to utilize the online sources provided by Nottingham Law School, a comparative look at the United States and United Kingdom legal systems, as well as legal writing and referencing. Our group was also taken to the National Justice Museum and dinner at George’s Great British Kitchen to explore some of what Nottingham has to offer.
Additionally, the program assigns you a supervisor who provides guidance to you during the completion of the program and your dissertation. I was assigned to Dr. Hakan Sahin, who was also very friendly and eager to hear more about my research, providing comfort prior to my presentation.
As part of your completion of the program, you must present your dissertation topic to a group of faculty members at the Nottingham Law School. Essentially, this presentation was what all my work for the past few months had led up to, and I was about to get invaluable feedback on the direction of my research. The presentation ended up going smoothly with several faculty members and advisors providing constructive advice on how to continue my research and further develop my analytical framework.
As I have worked to complete this degree, I have learned more on a topic I am passionate about as well as developed as a professional. Completion of this program requires dedication, hard work, and commitment; however, the benefits are endless. If you are considering getting your LL.M., I highly recommend you take the chance and dive into this opportunity to learn and further your legal qualifications. Campbell Law School fervently supports your pursuit of this degree through providing you with incredible mentors such as Professor Berenguer and Professor Peter Romary. Deciding to pursue the LL.M. has been the best decision that I have made in law school.