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By Marian Dent, J.D.

Marian Dent is a graduate of VCalifornia Berkley Law School (Boalt Hall). She is not only the dean of Pericles ABLE but also a teacher of law courses and the GMAT Preparation at Pericles. For more information aboutPericles’ LL.M. Program please call 292-6463; 292-5188 or write to This Spring, expect to see the first American LL.M. program starting in Moscow. The program is presented by Pericles American Business & Legal Education (ABLE) Project, a training center that has been providing continuing legal education courses in the Russian market for the past six years.

What is an LL.M. Degree?

The LL.M., or Master of Laws degree is, for lawyers the equivalent of what an M.B.A. is for business people. It shows that a lawyer has advanced, Western training and can fully function in an multinational legal environment.

LL.M. students take one year full time, or two year part time program of intensive study in advanced courses. Unlike a Russian Candidate's qualification, however, the LL.M. program is less aimed at future academics and more geared towards building the skills of a practicing lawyer. LL.M. students work on legal writing and logical skills, and study cases for a practical understanding of client problems. Much as the M.B.A. is valued for teaching the elusive thinking style of the business executive, the LL.M. teaches students to "think like a lawyer."

Until now, however, while the business students could choose from several Western M.B.A. programs that had brought their administration and teachers to Russia, law students were limited to studying abroad. To get an advanced degree in American or international business law, lawyers were forced to find the time and money for a year in an American law school.

The Pericles LL.M. program will allow lawyers to get the same degree in Moscow. Moreover, because the Moscow based program is evening study, students in the Pericles LL.M. program will be able to continue in their jobs and obtain the degree without a loss of income.

Why is an American LL.M. Program Being Brought to Moscow?

This Moscow LL.M. program solves a Catch-22 in legal education in Russia. While in the mid-90's several prominent law firms were willing to pay for promising lawyers to obtain the LL.M. credential, now, more and more, the LL.M. degree is becoming an entry level qualification for multinational law firms and consultancies. Thus, to get the prestigious jobs, law students need the LL.M. degree, but those who do not already have the prestigious jobs cannot afford the $40,000 plus price tag on a year of study in the U.S.

An additional need for bringing an American LL.M. degree program to Russia is evidenced by the problems of those lawyers practicing international business law in Russian law firms. Nowadays, Russian law firms are maturing and starting to try to attract those Western clients that were previously the domain of the foreign law firms in Russia. But Western clients want to see Western trained lawyers. The result is that lawyers practicing with Russian firms, even if they have years of experience, are trying to find the time to obtain Western credentials. Lawyers who already have family or career committments do not have the luxury of taking a year off to obtain the credential that allows them to more quickly advance their law firms reputations.

Now You Can Gain an LL.M. in Russia and Abroad Without Spending Too Much Time and Money

The Pericles ABLE Project LL.M. program allows students to gain hands-on experience in American classrooms through two summer periods of study in the United States and Europe, while the rest of the students' time is spent studying under American professors in Moscow.

Through cooperation with the University of San Diego law school, based in California, Pericles LL.M. students can spend five weeks of the summer studying advanced courses with American students in various cities of Europe. There the Russian LL.M. students can take courses from world renowned specialists in many areas of law that they would not have the opportunity to study at home.

With a total price tag of around $10,000 over two years, and with many students assisted by full or partial tuition stipends, student work study, and loans, bright young lawyers can obtain the qualifications they need without having to rob a bank to do it.

Enhancing Lawyers' Skills and Job Prospects

An additional benefit to this Moscow based LL.M. program is the close connection between the program and multinational legal employers. Pericles has spent the past year preparing a needs assessment of the Western law firms in Russia. The curriculum is based on what those firms want to see in their Russian associates.

Students attending this LL.M. program in Moscow will find themselves faced with as rigorous skills and writing requirements as students in U.S. based law schools. Western law firms in Moscow uniformly pointed to writing as the area that they most want to see improved in their Russian associates. Thus, mandatory courses in the Pericles ABLE Project LL.M. include Western style legal writing and legal research. In addition, written exams or papers will be a component of each course that a student undertakes.

Another element of the Pericles LL.M. will be a mandatory case study course in contract law. This first year course in the American legal curriculum is covered in much less detail in Russian law schools, simply because the law of contracts is not yet as well developed in Russia as it is in the West. However, analyzing Western cases in contract law instills a keen awareness of the multitude of transactional provisions that can lead to contract disputes. Lawyers who have undergone case studies in contract are more careful drafters and negotiators. Their minds are honed to predict problems before they arise.

Finally, all LL.M. courses are rigorously graded in the same way that law school courses are graded in the United States. Russian students are given extra time on exams, but are not given any additional consideration to separate them from American students. Thus, potential employers have a yardstick by which to measure Pericles LL.M. students with law students from U.S. law schools.

These are just a few of the areas in which Pericles has adjusted the typical LL.M. curriculum to meet the needs of Russian students and employers, and thus to ensure that Pericles LL.M. graduates are sought after by multinational law firms.

How and When to Enroll

This LL.M. program is scheduled to begin in January, and admissions preference will be given to those students whose applications are received prior to December 21. Entrance examination requirements are waived for the January entering class, but are expected to be put in place for those students who wish to begin with the September 2002 intake.

The Pericles LL.M. program is not for everyone. Unlike M.B.A. programs that students can take even without a first degree in business, the LL.M. degree is open to only those students who have obtained or are about to obtain a first degree in law. Law students of the 4th year or above can apply.

In addition, practical experience as a lawyer, while not absolutely necessary for admission to an LL.M. degree, is helpful and will enhance the LL.M. experience for the student.

The Pericles LL.M., like all American LL.M. programs, is taught entirely in English. Students who are not yet fluent in English or who are weak in English legal terminology should prepare themselves by taking courses in English or legal English prior to enrolling.

For more information on the LL.M. program, please contact Pericles ABLE Project at 292-5188, or email

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