INTERNATIONAL LL.M. PROGRAMS: UTRECHT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL of LAW, UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS
Thank you, Leonie van Lent, Assistant Professor at Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology
for taking the time for this interview. DK
DK: Dr. Leonie Van Lent, as you may know, Turkey has a civil law legal system. To become a lawyer in Turkey, students are required to complete a four-year Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) and complete a one-year internship (with a law firm and courts) following graduation. Why do you think a lawyer from Turkey should pursue an LL.M. degree from a Netherlands law school?
LL: First of all, as all Netherlands law schools have a very good reputation in Europe and globally, an LL.M. degree from a Netherlands law school offers students from Turkey the possibility to specialize in a particular field (and by that: I do not only mean a specialization such as either criminal law or private law but also in terms of perspective: viewing the law from the perspective of technical development, practicing law from a European integration perspective and so on) and also to generalize: to approach legal problems from different angles. These angles are integrated into many of the Dutch LL.M. programs, especially in the international ones. If all Turkish law students have to complete a four-year Bachelor and an internship (compared to Dutch law students who have only completed a three-years Bachelor), those interested in an international experience and perspective (and proficient in the English language), will have much experience to share in our masters.
DK: I understand that Utrecht Law offers LL.M. programs in different legal areas: European Criminal Justice in a Global Context, European Governance, EU Law, Global Criminology, Law and Economics, Law and Technology in Europe, Legal Research and Public International Law. Firstly, I would like to focus on European Criminal Justice in a Global Context and Global Criminology programs. Could you please briefly explain what each program offers? What should the prospective applicants consider when choosing one of the programs offered by Utrecht Law if they are interested in criminal justice issues and criminology?
LL: The program of the LL.M. European Criminal Justice in a Global Context is particularly interesting for those interested in deepening their knowledge on EU criminal law and the interaction between criminal justice systems of the EU Members and the EU system, but it also has a lot to offer for students from outside the EU, interested in working in the sphere of cooperation of third countries with the EU on criminal matters. It examines the relationships of national criminal justice with the sharply increasing number of EU enforcement agencies, like the European Central Bank. The program also concerns the interactions between nations under new forms of enforcement cooperation that have come into operation internationally. This program provides not only an inspiring intellectual challenge, but also an outlook on a legal career at a national, European or international level.
Global criminology is an international master that attracts students from all continents. It applies a fixed quotum on admissions. The program, which offers a multidisciplinary, critical and comparative perspective, aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and understanding required to work with local and global crime issues, crime policies and crime control strategies. The program consists of three compulsory courses (Critical Reflection on Criminology, Cultural Criminology and Advanced Methodology), two out of four optional courses (Green Criminology, Digital Criminology, Crimes of the Powerful and Cross Border Crime) and a research thesis trajectory.
DK: Technology has become an integral part of our lives. As a result, it has become vital for legal professionals to learn about the legal implications of digital and societal developments. Could you please briefly explain how Utrecht Law has decided to offer a Law and Technology LL.M. program and the program’s structure?
LL: Today’s legal professional will not only face technology in their own work environment and personal life but society will increasingly need legal professionals to raise and answer new questions at the intersection of law, regulation and society. Issues of privacy, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, automated government decision-making and platform economies, as well as the potential ramifications of these developments for our society and its underlying values and the rule of law will be shaping the legal landscape of the future. The program wants to deliver legal professionals who can contribute to upholding the rule of law, legal certainty and legal protection, primarily from the perspective of the EU but with relevance beyond the EU.
The program consists of four compulsory courses (Law of Market Technologies; Digitalization and Law Enforcement in a Transnational Context; Consumers in a Digital Society; Technology and the Rule of Law – 7,5 ECTS each), six short modules of 2,5 ECTS each and a research and thesis trajectory (15 ECTS).
DK: From my personal experience, I know that it is extremely important for legal practitioners and academics to have necessary legal research and writing skills. Legal research is generally not taught in law schools at the undergraduate level in Turkey. As a result, legal professionals gain the necessary knowledge and skills while they are working. In this respect, could you please explain the structure of the Legal Research LL.M. program of Utrecht Law?
LL: While the other LL.M. programs in the Utrecht Law School are one-year-programs, the Legal Research Master is a two-year-program. It is a very interesting and challenging program which is very welcoming to international students who show a special interest and talent in doing legal and legal-interdisciplinary research. The program focuses on requiring the writing and presenting skills necessary for pursuing an academic career, and includes three extensive research projects, for which students are prepared by means of methodology courses and skills courses on academic writing and presenting and on collaboration.
As to skills in general, the Utrecht Law School has its own center of expertise, the Legal Skills Academy (LSA). This Academy provides inspiration and training for teachers of LL.B. and LL.M. courses so as to be able to include in their classes a broad range of skills (e.g. moot courts, presentations, blogging, legislation drafting) that students need in their academic life and professional careers. Also, the LSA staff sets up programs and pilots that provide training for students in order to enhance their academic and professional skills, such as legal writing skills, presentation skills and collaboration skills.
DK: In today’s globalized society, public international law handles complicated and challenging issues that affect everyone’s lives. How would an LL.M. candidate benefit from the Public International Law LL.M. program at Utrecht Law? Could you please tell us about the curriculum offerings of this program?
LL: The PIL program is especially attractive to international students as it offers students’ knowledge and insights into legal issues on a global level. Issues regarding conflicts, human rights and sustainability are essential wherever you live or work. The program will equip students with a broad range of legal tools to address current legal concerns facing the world. PIL is a flexible program that offers students many options, both during their study period and in their career possibilities post-graduation. Also, the international student population of this program offers specific extra benefits in comparing and learning about each other’s national issues – and the international network the program provides. The program exists of two important compulsory courses (General Course in Public International Law and International Law Moot Court) and several optional courses in the field of the three specializations of the program: Conflicts and Security, Human Rights and Oceans, Environment and Sustainability.
DK: Could you briefly explain the admissions process at Utrecht University School of Law?
LL: Students can apply for a Master’s program at the Utrecht University School of Law when they meet the application criteria as indicated at each Master’s program. For an overview of the English taught Law program and the application procedure students can check the UU Master’s program website.
At this website students will be guided through the application procedure and informed about the specific eligibility criteria. There are general minimum requirements for English proficiency and program specific requirements for background in Law, e.g. by obtained ECTS in specific Law courses at the home university. The final selection of eligible candidates will be made by the Admissions Committee of the School of Law. It is not likely international students will apply for a Bachelor’s program in Law because this is taught in Dutch.
DK: Are there any grant/scholarship opportunities available for non-European applicants from Turkey?
LL: Utrecht University and the School of Law offer a limited number of competitive scholarships for non -EU students, like the Utrecht Excellence Scholarship and the Law, Economics and Governance- International Talent Scholarships. All information can be found at the information page of the various English taught Master’s program of the School UU of Law. Students can apply for scholarship as part of the application procedure for the Master’s program. Student who want to apply for a scholarship have to submit their application for a Master’s program each year before 1 February. More information about admission and scholarships can be obtained from Caspar de Bock, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DK: Are there any employment or internship opportunities available for Utrecht Law LL.M. programs’ graduates in the Netherlands? What should international LL.M. graduates do to increase their chances of recruitment after graduation?
LL: Most LL.M. programs provide flexibility for an internship during the program, even an extended enrolment in the program, but do not require or organize them. Internships are generally facilitated by UU’s extensive network of professionals in a multitude of public and private organizations at a national and international level.
A wonderful way of experiencing the work of a legal expert is also the PIL Clinical program, in which students work pro bono for international courts and organizations.
DK: Finally, would you like to give any advice to Turkish law students and graduates reading this interview?
LL: My advice would be to spread your wings and to find out what there is to be learned and experienced in other countries. Well trained and responsible legal professionals are important always and everywhere, but this day and age poses many challenges throughout the world for which we urgently need legal professionals with broad perspectives and an international orientation.