Penn State Law offers online program for legal professionals trained outside US

This first-of-its-kind online program is designed to give busy legal professionals around the world a flexible method for learning about the U.S. common law system

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Legal professionals trained outside the United States who want to practice law in the United States or who work with U.S. clients or multinational companies in their home countries need to understand the U.S. common law system, which differs significantly from civil law legal systems. The new Professional Certificate in U.S. Business and Constitutional Law, offered by Penn State Law and delivered online by the World Campus, is designed to prepare legal professionals around the world for understanding critical aspects of the U.S. legal system.

“We have designed this course specifically for law students and lawyers who either cannot come to a law program in the U.S. in person, but want to learn about U.S. law and work on their language skills, or who want to prepare for an LL.M. or J.D. program in the U.S. in advance,” said Caroline Sheldon, director, Graduate and International Programs, Penn State, Dickinson School of Law.

The eight-credit certificate program is Penn State Law’s first online program. The courses are Introduction to Common Law Analysis and Language, U.S. Constitutional Law and Analysis, and Introduction to U.S. Business Associations and Commercial Law. The program introduces legal professionals trained outside the United States to common law legal analysis and fundamental elements of U.S. public and private law.

The unique emphasis of the courses is on how U.S. lawyers solve legal problems. Using state-of-the-art interactive learning technology, the courses provide hands-on training to help participants build skills in common law thinking and in legal English language and communication skills. This will benefit their interactions with U.S. clients or help prepare students for a U.S. LL.M. degree or to work with U.S. clients.

Courses can be taken individually. Course work uses the case method, which is highly interactive and builds critical thinking and analytical skills. In the U.S. Constitutional Law and Analysis course, students will also have an opportunity to view a video recreation of a U.S. law school classroom online to learn about the interactive teaching and learning style of these classrooms.

Wenjia Ma of China, who completed the first course in the program and is now enrolled in Penn State Law’s master of laws (LL.M) program, said, “It helped me to get used to the study style with syllabus, reading assignments, cases and online study systems, which I had not experienced in my previous education. I also benefited profoundly from weekly assignments by practicing my verbal and writing skills.”

Students will have access to language specialists from Penn State’s Department of Applied Linguistics. Courses are semester-based, and students will be able to interact with each other and with instructors.

For information about Penn State Law’s Professional Certificate in U.S. Business and Constitutional Law, visit the website.

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Last Updated November 21, 2013