Through Their Eyes

2011-12 LL.M. Class Offers Fresh View of U.S.

Hailing from more than 10 countries, the 77 members of the 2011-12 LL.M. class had many different talents, experiences, and interests. Of that total, 50 graduated on May 18 with a master of laws degree in U.S. Law; 11 graduated with a master of laws degree in intellectual property and technology law; and 16 graduated with a master of laws degree in taxation. 


The LL.M. in U.S. Law class reflects great diversity. Twenty-eight of these students hailed from China, 10 students were from South Korea, two students each were from Italy and Thailand, and one student apiece was from Afghanistan, France, Japan, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan.  

The one thing they all shared? A passion for the law.

“This year’s graduating class was interesting not only because of the experiences they brought to the Washington University School of Law community, but also because of their unique perspectives on U.S. life and culture,” says Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs Peter Cramer. “Seeing the world through their eyes was enriching in itself.”

For example, Yun (Sarah) Huang, from Hubei, China, says that the smaller class sizes of Washington University’s LL.M. program were a welcome change from those of her home country and other U.S. LL.M. programs.

“In China, it is uncommon for the professors to know their students’ names,” she says. “Some of the other U.S. law schools I applied to had as many as 200 LL.M. students. I really liked the more personal approach I received at Washington University.”

Huang, who pursued a master of law in international law from Xiamen University, says that another draw to Washington University was the ability to transfer to the J.D. program—an interest shared by one of her fellow students, Anais Romo, from France.

“With the LL.M. program at Washington University, you can get two degrees, the LL.M. and the J.D., in just three years,” Romo says.

Romo hopes to ultimately work in international law for a U.S. law firm.

“If I stayed in France, I would be limited to working in Paris,” she says. “People here are more open-minded, and there are more opportunities to study different things and to work in different environments. It’s not possible to change jobs easily in France. In the U.S., there is more flexibility within the country. A law degree will open a lot of doors here.”

Anastasia Kovalevskaya, from Moscow, was one of two Fulbright scholars in the 2011-12 class. Currently in a Ph.D. program at the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, she says she came to the U.S. to get a different perspective on the law. However, she adds that her time in the states also gave her a fresh understanding of her host country.

“One common stereotype in Russia is that Americans are unhealthy,” she says, “but when I saw people in the U.S. waking up at 6 a.m. to go running, I realized that’s not true!”

Kovalevskaya adds that Washington University’s strong faculty in public law was a strong draw for her. She specialized in criminal law, and says she enjoyed taking classes “from professors whose books I have read.”

Kovalevskaya, who wants to work in criminal defense, will be taking the New York bar exam this summer. Until then, she—like Huang and Romo—plans to enjoy the different museums, music venues, and sporting events that St. Louis offers.

“People here are very friendly and eager to help,” she says. “St. Louis is a place where every student can find something of interest.”