INTERNATIONAL LL.M. PROGRAMS: TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN SCHOOL OF LAW, DUBLIN, IRELAND
Associate Professor Desmond Ryan and Administrative Officer Kelley McCabe, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Gizem Halis Kasap
GHK: Associate Professor Ryan and Administrative Officer McCabe, as Ireland’s leading university, Trinity College Dublin School of Law offers an LL.M. program that allows students to design their own course of study. How does an LL.M. from Ireland, and in particular, Trinity College Dublin Law, stand out from one from any other common-law countries, especially from the viewpoint of a civil-law trained lawyer?
DR & KM: Thanks for asking us to take part! The impact that Turkish LLM graduates have made to our LLM programmes has always been continuously rewarding for us (and hopefully for them!) so we hope to continue this relationship with future law graduates.
We find that there are many positive aspects for those applying from civil-law countries to studying at Trinity College Dublin and, in particular, to our LLM programmes. As the highest ranking university in Ireland and the only Law School in Ireland to rank in the QS top 100 World University Rankings by Subject – Law and Legal Studies (No 62 in 2021), we feel our students benefit from our reputation as Ireland’s leading law school. They will also experience studying within an EU country through the medium of English, as we are now the main English-speaking country within the EU.
Looking more specifically to our four LLM programmes, each programme is designed to provide students with the knowledge and expertise to enhance their career path in any corner of the world. Students can follow a specialised LLM programme focusing on IP and IT law, International and Comparative Law or International and European Business law or can follow a general LLM programme which allows them to select modules from all facets of law. Our modules have a strong international and EU focus and many contain a comparative focus which allows students the chance to compare the legal systems of common and civil law countries. Each year, we welcome students from over thirty countries so there is no expectation from our faculty that students will share the same knowledge when commencing their studies. In fact, our academic colleagues find that the varying academic and personal backgrounds of our students enhances the learning environment and class discussions and creates dynamic graduates with strong employability and graduate mobility.
As mentioned above, we have been lucky enough to receive students from Turkey for many years and also welcomed many scholars from the esteemed Jean Monnet Scholarship programme. These students have progressed well in their careers in Turkey (and also further afield) which highlights the currency of undertaking an LLM degree with us. Our strong working relationship with the Jean Monnet programme highlights the regard they have for our law school. In 2019/20, pre-Covid, Trinity was the second university in Europe welcoming Jean Monnet Scholars. Trinity alone welcomed almost as many Jean Monnet Scholars as all the universities in the UK!
GHK: How would you describe the ideal candidate for Trinity College Dublin School of Law?
DR & KM: Our goal is to have a postgraduate class that is academically excellent, dynamic, spirited and diverse, so that our students can have a genuinely enriching time while they study with us.
We seek academically strong law graduates whose previous academic performances meet our University’s admission requirements, while also looking for evidence that candidates are suitably prepared to undertake the independent reading and research that comes with a postgraduate degree.
As we mentioned above, our modules involve significant class discussions. Our ideal candidate will contribute to these discussions, bringing their own observations to the table while also being respectful of their classmates’ views.
Outside of the classroom, we hope that our students will get involved in extra-curricular activities within the School of Law. Examples include joining student societies such as the Law Society and European Law Students Association (ELSA) or contributing to the Trinity College Law Review (TCLR) or our annual Law Student Colloquium.
While it is a one-year programme, each year we see solid friendships made amongst our LLM student body. Our hope is that students enrolling in the LLM will become part of a warm and welcoming LLM community that will support each other academically, personal, and socially.
GHK: Could you briefly describe the admissions process at Trinity College Dublin School of Law? How is each component of an application (such as GPA, language score, and letters of recommendation) ranked?
DR & KM: Candidates are invited to apply online to the University from October to May annually. We encourage early application and review applications on a rolling basis – the sooner a candidate submits their application, the sooner it will be reviewed. When applying, candidates are asked to complete an online application form and provide academic transcripts, degree certificates (where available) two academic references/letters of recommendation and their CV. These documents give us a holistic picture of the applicant’s academic performance and extra-curricular/professional activities and achievements. We must ensure that the University’s admission requirements are met so it is fair to say that we are mostly concerned with the academic performances and GPA. English proficiency tests (IELTS, TOEFL etc.) are also required by the University.
GHK: I noticed that Trinity College Dublin Law does not require a personal statement to apply, but per the website, “applicants are welcome to submit additional documentation for consideration if they so wish.” Realistically speaking, should an applicant send a personal statement anyway?
DR & KM: The University’s online application form contains a brief section for an applicant to provide additional information. It is here that they can provide the information they may usually include in a personal statement, for example, their current research interests, motivations, career plans and goals for the future. Of course, if a candidate still wishes to submit a separate personal statement or any other additional documentation, we will review same. The only documentation our review panel cannot review in detail are past assignments, dissertations etc.
GHK: Could you offer any general advice regarding letters of recommendation? Who would be the best person to write an LL.M. applicant’s recommendation letters?
DR & KM: The University requires all postgraduate applicants to provide two academic references/letters of recommendation. The information provided by academic referees is also hugely helpful in allowing us to ascertain a candidate’s character and potential to become an active member of our LLM community. From the perspective of the School of Law, we would suggest that candidates ask the professors who know them well and can attest to their academic abilities, contributions in class, personal motivation etc. Where a candidate feels their professors may not know them sufficiently, we suggest that they provide their transcripts and CV when requesting recommendation letters. This will assist the referee with their task of providing an informative recommendation, and it always helpful to get your busy referee engaged with your request from the outset!
GHK: Can students from Turkey apply for conditional acceptance if they cannot demonstrate sufficient English proficiency?
DR & KM: Absolutely! Candidates are most welcome to apply without an approved English proficiency qualification, or indeed without their final year results. If the candidate’s academic performance is deemed suitable for admission, a conditional offer will be provided (subject to obtaining the minimum requirement).
Details of Trinity College’s English language requirements are also available on our website.
GHK: What scholarship opportunities are available for non-European applicants from Turkey, and what are the criteria?
DR & KM: Given our positive and rewarding relationship with the Jean Monnet Scholarship programme to date, together with Trinity’s Global Relations team, we recently released five scholarships for Jean Monnet scholars for 2021/22. These scholarships are valued at €3000 each and will be applied as a reduction to tuition fees for LLM programmes in 2021/22. Applicants must hold an offer, firm or conditional, for one of our LLM programmes and be in receipt of a Jean Monnet Scholarship. A number of other scholarships are open to all postgraduate candidates annually. These include the Government of Ireland International Scholarship and Global Excellence Postgraduate Scholarships. Further details are available on our website.
GHK: What types of support services are available for international LL.M. students?
DR & KM: With such a diverse student and staff community, Trinity College Dublin provides postgraduates with a huge variety of academic and pastoral supports. These extend from the time a candidate registers to beyond graduation. The University’s Global Relations office is pivotal in providing support to international students new to Ireland and Trinity. The Accommodation Office and Accommodation Advisory Service assist students in obtaining university or private rented accommodation. Our Postgraduate Advisory Service and Graduate Student Union provides direct support to all postgraduate students at the university, while our vast array of student clubs and societies provide the opportunity to explore many social, cultural, and educational outlets. Other services focusing on student growth and welfare, include Careers Advisory Service, Student Learning Development, Student Health and Counselling Services.
Aside from this, we at the LLM office are the first port of call for LLM students during their studies. Likewise, our academic colleagues are available to support students with their modules and research dissertation while our dedicated law librarian can assist students as they prepare their assignments and dissertation.
GHK: I would like to talk about access to the bar after the LL.M. studies. If one had an LL.M. degree from Trinity College Dublin Law, what further steps would one have to complete to become a practicing lawyer in Ireland?
DR & KM: In Ireland, there are two legal professionals: – solicitors and barristers. It is important to note that holding a law degree does not automatically entitle one to practice in either profession. Further information on accessing both is available on our website. Students seeking to qualify in either profession can avail of a graduate visa to remain in Ireland following graduation and pursue these paths.
In saying this, our postgraduate law degrees teach students to think logically and analytically. It also equips students with the ability to carry out research, to apply relevant information to problems, to use language precisely, carefully, and objectively. They also allow students to specialise in niche areas of law that they may not otherwise be exposed to. All of these skills will enhance a student’s legal professional career whether it is directly within the legal profession, in legal departments of Government or commercial organisations, academic etc.
GHK: What are the job prospects in Ireland after an LL.M for non-European students? What would be the outlook for the next few years considering the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the possible implications of Brexit?
DR & KM: While is it hard to fully predict the effects that COVID-19 may have, we feel that Ireland has adapted well to remote working since March 2020 and that many legal and other professional companies have continued to pursue their business in a robust and steady manner. As the only English speaking country in the EU, we are a hub for the largest technological companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and many more. Many EU and Turkish companies locate their headquarters in Ireland. We are also the lead aviation hub in Europe. These sectors have large legal and compliance departments that suit graduates from our programmes. This, coupled with our high standards of living (ranked second-highest in the world for quality of life by a UN study in 2020), attracts multinational companies from around the globe while also enhancing our own Irish companies.
Trinity’s Careers Advisory Service (CAS) provide a wide range of resources to help registered students make informed choices about your future career direction and develop skills to enhance their marketability to further employers.
As referred to above, the Government of Ireland shows its commitment to international students who study with us by providing the option of a two-year graduate visa which students can apply for on successful completion of their studies. This gives graduates the opportunity to remain in Ireland and secure employment that may then assist them in securing subsequent visas. Trinity’s Global Relations team provide students with support and informative workshops to assist them in submitting these applications.
GHK: Finally, do you have any parting words of wisdom for applicants from Turkey applying Trinity College Dublin Law School this cycle?
DR & KM: The School of Law recently took part in a IEFT webinar for Turkish law students which we hope will be useful for anyone wishing to learn more about our law school. We also provide all the information needed to submit an application on our website.
Our parting words – We appreciate that applying to study at an international university can be daunting, now more than ever, so please feel welcome to contact us on our email address.