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The Penn State Law LL.M. Program

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Penn State Law’s international students travel thousands of miles to State College with a common, single step: to immerse themselves in our classrooms, libraries, and communities to learn from extraordinary professors and peers from around the world.

Penn State Law is integrated within the larger Penn State University, a global leader in cutting-edge research. The LL.M. curriculum prepares students for careers in law, government, academics, and non-governmental organizations, with the option for the exceptional student to prepare for the New York State Bar or to transfer to the J.D. Program. S.J.D. students pursue advanced independent study with faculty mentors to produce research contributing to distinguished legal scholarship. Studying and working with J.D. students, our international students join an alumni network of more than 658,000 alumni—the largest academic alumni network in the world. This all takes place in the incredible Lewis Katz Building, surrounded by forests and hills in State College and within driving distance to Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Congratulations on taking this first, single step.   Please email Assistant Dean Stephen Barnes for additional information.

Welcome to Penn State Law.

Richard Settgast, Director of Legal Analysis and Writing for International Students
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Trial attorney Richard Settgast, a Centre County assistant public defender, supervisor of the Penn State Law Indigent Criminal Justice Practicum, and Adjunct Professor of Legal Writing has accepted a position as the Director of Legal Analysis and Writing for International Students. Although Professor Settgast has taught legal writing and Advanced Legal Writing to Penn State Law LL.M. students since 2014, his new position will allow him to better craft a comprehensive system for equipping international students with practical writing and research skills they will carry with them for the rest of their careers. “For the past 10 years I have devoted my professional career to public service.  In 2006, I was given the opportunity to intern at the Centre County Public Defender’s Office.  My research and writing skills impressed not only the Chief Public Defender, but also President Judge Thomas Kistler who hired me as his law clerk after I graduated from Penn State School of Law.  For the next two and a half years I researched and wrote well over a hundred judicial opinions for the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County.  In 2010, I was fortunate enough to be able to rejoin the Centre County Public Defender’s Office as a trial attorney and defend those unable to afford their own attorney.  My approach to teaching legal writing is to bring that practical experience and apply it in the LL.M. program.” Professor Settgast said. “The students won’t just be doing hypotheticals, but actually writing memos and doing assignments that relate to the work they would see as real attorneys practicing in the United States.” Professor Settgast first began working with Penn State Law in 2013, when he co-founded the Indigent Criminal Justice Practicum to give select third year law students the opportunity of defending indigent defendants in real court.  Under the supervision of Professor Settgast and his colleague Casey McClain, practicum students have represented dozens of people, gained invaluable courtroom experience, gone toe-to-toe with assistant district attorneys, and argued jury trials for their clients. He next began helping teach legal writing to LL.M. students in 2014, and looks forward to continuing this work in his new role as director of the Legal Writing Center. The program will consist of two courses—an introductory legal writing course and an optional advanced legal writing course—and will cover non-persuasive writing, legal research, and memos, and well as persuasive writing and case briefs, with the advanced course culminating with an argument before a sitting judge. “My goal is to not just introduce our international students to American legal writing, but to also show them what it means to be an attorney in the United States and expose them to the writing skills they’d be expected to have if entering a law firm,” Professor Settgast said. Professor Settgast’s practical and skills-oriented approach will also complement Penn State Law’s Introduction to U.S. Legal Systems course—an intensive two-week crash course that, alongside legal writing, forms the backbone for LL.M. students’ success at Penn State Law. “The purpose and the approach of the course is twofold: Not only do we give students an introduction to the U.S. legal system and how it differs from other legal systems, we also serve as an orientation to prepare them for American law school,” said Professor Nicole Chong, who teaches the legal systems course. “So we teach everything from the different branches of government, the common law system, and how to read court opinions, to very practical law school preparation like how to take notes in an American law class and how to take exams so students know what to expect in the coming year.” For Assistant Dean of Graduate and International Programs Steve Barnes, the complement of Professor Settgast and Chong and their respective roles is a winning combination for LL.M. students—making Penn State Law “a leader in helping international students develop critical, practical skills for the global legal market.” But for Professor Settgast, his biggest joy is simply the privilege of being able to teach. “I have tremendous respect for our students who have traveled all this way to learn how we practice law, and I feel honored to be able to show them what it means to be an attorney in the United States,” Professor Settgast said. “It truly is a privilege to work with such amazing students.”

News

Rayhan Asat and Tamara Kralji at Penn State Law
Rayhan Asat and Tamara Kralji, from the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, recently spoke at Penn State Law during a two-part program covering World Bank sanctions and careers for LL.M. students.
Richard Settgast, Director of Legal Analysis and Writing for International Students
“I have tremendous respect for our students who have traveled all this way to learn how we practice law, and I feel honored to be able to show them what it means to be an attorney in the United States,” Professor Settgast said. “It truly is a privilege to work with such amazing students.”
American Law and Legal System students | Penn State Law
Penn State Law faculty member, student, and alumna travel to Nirma University Institute of Law to conduct a class comparing U.S. and India constitutions.

Contact Us

Brenda Johnson
International Programs
llmadmit@pennstatelaw.psu.edu
+1-814-867-2373
Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA

 

Photo of Katz Building for Virtual Tour