Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015

Publication Citation

22 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 3 (2015)


In recent decades, there has been a remarkable growth in the number of foreign attorneys enrolled at U.S. law schools and particularly in LL.M. programs. To learn more about these students and how they fare, we conducted research in two law schools, one in the Midwest and the second on the East Coast. We examine the admissions process for foreign attorneys from the perspectives and experiences of both the administrators who make admissions decisions and the students who seek admission. We consider the layered international, national, state, and local laws that complicate the selection process, as well as the standards set by the schools themselves. To understand who gets in and who does not, we interviewed nine administrators who admit and support the international students during their studies. We observed how accounting practices and techniques of audit culture color administrative decision-making, but also the conditions under which discretion comes into play. We collected quantitative data about the students at the two schools and analyzed their personal statements using the anthropological and linguistic concept of "genre," a stylized narrative, that revealed students' life histories, education, work experiences, motives for attending the programs, and future goals. The narratives, and our interviews with fifty students who attended the programs, demonstrate that internationalizationh as changed the terms for inclusion in U.S. law schools. The structures of privilege play by different rules at the international level. They include a wider politics of interstate relations, the vicissitudes of international and national law, the operation of audit cultures, a certain proficiency in English as the lingua franca of international law, and the ability to muster economic and other symbolic resources, even under great hardship. As sites of globalization, law schools are creating new legal experts who will reinvent the future meaning of being a lawyer and doing a lawyer's work.