Seattle U offers advanced law degrees

March 14, 2016

This fall, Seattle University School of Law will add a few extra letters after its name.

After more than 40 years of bestowing juris doctor degrees, the law school will offer a master of laws (LLM) in two fields — tribal law and technology — as well as a master of legal studies (MLS). The American Bar Association has also acquiesced in an LLM program in elder law, which will be added soon.

All LLM degree programs will require applicants to have a JD degree already, but the master of legal studies program is the first degree the law school has ever offered specifically for non-lawyers.

Erica Wolf"So many other fields — health care, business, technology — intersect with the law but don't require the same in-depth legal knowledge a JD provides," said Erica Wolf '05, the newly appointed director of graduate programs. "For people in related fields and industries, this program is the Goldilocks of legal degrees — just enough, but not too much."

Wolf, a 2005 graduate of the law school and a national expert in Indian trusts and estates law, has been involved with the Center for Indian Law & Policy (CILP) for almost 10 years — as an adjunct faculty member, supervising attorney, managing attorney, and most recently, executive director. She'll continue to serve as CILP's senior attorney, with a focus on outreach, marketing, educational programs, and tribal engagement in trust and estates and land issues.

The 30-credit master's program will offer general studies as well as three specialties, or "tracks": tribal law, innovation and technology, and business development. Students will take two required courses and four core courses, with the remaining credits chosen from approved electives and independent study.

"The program will allow people to better position themselves in their careers, especially if their work is heavily regulated," Wolf said. "They'll be able to alert their employers or firms to legal issues as they arise."

The three LLM programs take advantage of the law school's existing strengths in those subject areas. All three programs are 24 credits and can be completed in one academic year of full-time study or two years as a part-time student.

"Legal education is what we do best, so it just made sense to offer more of it," said Dean Annette Clark '89. "Our faculty are amazing teachers and scholars, and we have a great deal to offer students who want to go even deeper in their legal studies."

The LLM tech law curriculum takes advantage of Seattle's status as an international hub for innovation and technology. A required weeklong immersion course will focus on privacy, cybersecurity, and digital commerce. Other courses include financial regulations and cyber espionage.

Seattle U Law already has the largest Indian and tribal law program in the Pacific Northwest; the LLM program will build on this success. The degree will prepare lawyers for work in tribal law, federal Indian law, traditional forms of governance, and policy work within the federal, state, and tribal structures.

The elder law LLM will train attorneys to provide representation, advocacy, and leadership in the areas of law that impact seniors and people with disabilities. Courses will cover a wide range of legal issues, including health care coverage, age discrimination, and protection from abuse and neglect.

More information about the new degree programs is available online. Applications are due in June.

Erica Wolf, Director of Graduate Programs, (206) 398-4277