International Rule of Law and Security FAQs

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International Rule of Law and Security FAQs

The meaning of the rule of law can differ by context, but in general it refers to the transparent and uniform application of laws to all citizens by an independent justice system not subject to the whim of those in power (which might be characterized as the rule of man). The International Rule of Law and Security Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University focuses on strengthening independent and fair legal systems in countries where citizens are not routinely able to protect their fundamental rights in courts, where economic development suffers from a lack of trust in the justice system, and where accountability for all citizens is not ensured.

It is an academic and experiential learning program that is designed to prepare students for jobs that promote justice, human rights, sustainable economic development, and equality under the law across the globe. The rule of law is the foundation of any stable political system and thriving economy. Strengthening the rule of law wherever it is vulnerable is therefore essential to resolving today’s greatest security, environmental, and economic challenges. Students who choose this program will gain knowledge in the roles of governments, multilateral institutions, international financial institutions, and international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in advancing the rule of law to promote security, stability, and sustainable economic growth.

The program draws on the expertise of faculty members in a range of areas of law including transitional justice and human rights, democratic governance, international development, property, environmental, energy (including renewable energy), contracts, project finance, banking regulations, international trade, taxation, bankruptcy, and traditional legal systems such as Sharia law. Our expert faculty advise governments, multilateral institutions, universities, and leading NGOs on reforming laws, improving legal education systems, training critical actors in the legal system—both criminal and commercial—to help develop transparent legal systems to which citizens from all backgrounds have equal access.

The International Rule of Law and Security Program is led in Washington, D.C., by Ambassador Clint Williamson. He has served as a state and federal prosecutor, a White House policy maker, a United Nations war crimes investigator and prosecutor, a senior official in peacekeeping missions, and a U.S. ambassador. Professor Julia Fromholz, also based in Washington, directs the program and brings experience in rule of law and international human rights work in both the U.S. State Department and NGOs. The program is led in Arizona by Andrew Jaynes, the executive director of ASU Law’s Center for Law and Global Affairs. Mr. Jaynes has broad experience in leadership positions with an international NGO.

Courses in the Washington program are taught by Ambassador Williamson and Professor Fromholz, as well as adjunct faculty who have years of practical experience in the fields in which they teach. Adjunct faculty include George Huber of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Ambassador James Warlick of the U.S. Department of State. All of these professors combine a solid theoretical understanding of the subjects they teach with extensive leadership experience in overseas rule of law and governance operations.

The International Rule of Law and Security Program is the only of its kind in Washington, D.C.. It offers unparalleled access to externships, experts in the field, and classmates and colleagues who will form the basis of lifelong networks in the field. The expertise and contacts of the program’s faculty ensure that students will gain a practical as well as theoretical foundation in rule of law matters, and that students will have access to a wide range of rule of law and governance specialists who may be able to help them further their careers. This program is also unique in terms of its degree options and experiential learning opportunities—including externships, skills courses, and other hands-on courses and work. Finally, students selected for the program will graduate with a degree from ASU, the top-ranked university in the U.S. for innovation. ASU Law is ranked number 26 in the nation (number 9 among all public law schools), and number 11 for job placement (number 3 among all public law schools).

Degree Information

ASU Law offers three distinct graduate degrees for future lawyers and those who do not wish to practice law but want to use legal knowledge and skills to further their careers:

  • Master of Legal Studies (MLS): A Master of Legal Studies in International Rule of Law and Security provides those not interested in practicing law with valuable legal skills, expertise, and tools to implement the legal structures critical to an impartial and functional judicial system. The MLS is a 30-credit graduate program for those interested in learning about the law, or whose work intersects with the law. The MLS program is flexible and is offered in the fall and spring, full-time and part-time. MLS students earn the degree attending courses in Washington, DC. More information about ASU Law MLS degrees may be found here.
  • Master of Laws (LLM): The Master of Laws in International Rule of Law and Security affords lawyers—having earned a law degree from a U.S. or foreign university—the opportunity to specialize in this area of law, gaining knowledge, contacts, and experience that will help them further their careers. It requires 24 credit hours of study and can qualify graduates for bar examination in some U.S. jurisdictions. The LLM program is flexible and is offered in the fall and spring, full-time and part-time. LLM students earn the degree attending courses in Washington, DC. More information about ASU Law LLM degrees may be found here.
  • Juris Doctor (JD): An emphasis in the International Rule of Law and Security is available to JD students who wish to spend a semester in Washington, DC. JD students take relevant classes in Arizona during their second and third years and spend a semester during one of those years in Washington, taking classes and working in internships. The JD degree is the traditional law degree in the United States and is usually completed in three years on a full-time basis, but part-time options after the first year are available. More information on ASU’s JD program may be found here.

Classes will be offered in two locations – Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, D.C. Depending on the degree pursued, timing of class offerings in the two locations may vary:

  • Washington, D.C.: Both Fall and Spring semesters for MLS and LLM students; Spring semester only for JD students.
  • Phoenix: Fall and Spring semester course availability for JD students, with one Spring semester in Washington required.

People with international interests who want to make a difference in the world through the application of law and policy; those who recognize that states or regions emerging from conflict or transitioning to democracy need a solid foundation in rule of law and good governance and want to assist in the process of building those foundations; and those who understand that instability in even the most distant countries can pose threats not only to those caught up in the immediate conflicts but also to the broader world as well, and want to help address such crises through more effective stabilization, reconstruction, and development initiatives.

MLS (Washington, DC)

Fall: International Institutions (3 credits) Public International Law (3 credits) International Law of Armed Conflict (3 credits) International Human Rights Law (3 credits) U.S. Law and Legal Analysis (3 credits)

Spring: Transitional Justice Mechanisms (3 credits) Building Justice Institutions (3 credits) Policy Design Studio (3 credits) Fundamentals of Contract Law (3 credits) Externship (3 credits)

LLM (Washington, DC)

Fall: International Institutions (3 credits) Public International Law (3 credits) International Law of Armed Conflict (3 credits) International Human Rights Law (3 credits)

Spring: Transitional Justice Mechanisms (3 credits) Building Justice Institutions (3 credits) Policy Design Studio (3 credits) Externship (3 credits)

JD

In Arizona during 2L and 3L years: International Institutions (3 credits) Public International Law (3 credits) International Law of Armed Conflict (3 credits) International Human Rights Law (3 credits)

One spring semester in Washington, DC: Transitional Justice Mechanisms (3 credits) Building Justice Institutions (3 credits) Policy Design Studio (3 credits) Externship (up to 6 credits)

Prospective MLS students may apply here.

Prospective LLM students may apply here.

Prospective JD students may apply here.

Current JD students looking to transfer to or visit ASU Law may apply here.

LLM and MLS students follow the standard degree application deadlines.

JD students apply in the spring semester, one year before the semester in which they wish to participate. For example, 1Ls interested in spending the spring semester of their 2L year in Washington, DC would apply in the spring semester of their 1L year.

Program Benefits

The ability to practice law is a powerful tool for change, justice, and basic human rights. Through earning a JD or LLM in International Rule of Law and Security, lawyers gain deep and practical knowledge of a growing field, international exposure and expertise, a strong network of contacts. Lawyers will graduate with a strong understanding of policy formulation, crisis management, and decision-making. This unique education expands job opportunities for lawyers interested in international legal work and the program provides help entering this competitive field. Whether entering the field on graduation or after years of practice in other areas of law, lawyers in these fields are passionate about their careers and the effect they can have around the world.

International development jobs in the areas of rule of law, governance, sustainability, and related fields do not always require a law degree. Knowledge of the law, legal structures, and the foundation for fair justice systems is critical, regardless, in both the job and the job search. An MLS in International Rule of Law and Security expands job opportunities, helps in entering this competitive field, and allows graduates to start or improve a career with a broad network of contacts. It provides graduates with not only knowledge of concepts and practices they will deal with daily in their work, but also a deep understanding of policy formulation, crisis management, and decision-making. These factors, along with the international exposure and knowledge students gain from the MLS program, help lead to high career satisfaction.

International students in the JD, LLM, and MLS programs will gain a strong understanding of the U.S. legal system and government policy-making, while also gaining expertise in legal concepts and practical skills necessary for a career in rule of law and governance work. Like their American counterparts, international students will have the opportunity to meet with U.S. government officials and to learn from professors who have a deep knowledge of global rule of law and governance issues.

Externships are available with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, foreign missions, and numerous non-governmental organizations, including those focused on human rights, criminal justice, governance, trade, labor, and economic development.

In addition, students from the United States are able to work as externs in a range of U.S. government agencies, including the Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Energy; USAID; CIA; FBI; and U.S. Trade Representative. They may also work at the White House, in Congress, or in federal courts.

Yes, and some opportunities may be subsidized by the law school or related entities.

A focus in International Rule of Law and Security, whether through pursuit of an LLM, an MLS, or a JD, will prepare graduates for jobs in:

  • International development—U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), other national development agencies, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Justice, American Bar Association, local and international NGOs
  • International human rights—U.S. Department of State, foreign ministries of other governments, local and international NGOs
  • International criminal justice—international and hybrid tribunals, NGOs related to those tribunals
  • International Commerce and Trade—U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, local and international NGOs
  • Government—many sectors of national and state or provincial governments
  • NGOs—both local and international, across a range of issues areas
  • International positions in the private sector—international law firms, companies working in or seeking to invest in developing countries, corporate social responsibility divisions of corporations

Program Costs

Information about ASU's residency policies can be found here.

LLM and MLS students spending the full academic year in Washington, D.C. may expect roughly $24,000 in living expenses. JD students spending one semester in Washington, D.C. may expect roughly $12,000 in living expenses.

All standard financial aid options are available for students pursuing LLM, MLS, and JD degrees. More information can be found here. There is a small pool of scholarship funds available to LLM and MLS students. Admitted students may apply for scholarship funds on a merit or need basis. JD scholarships are determined as part of the admissions process and, in some situations, after starting as a JD student.

Eligibility & Requirements

LLM and MLS students are chosen via the standard degree application processes.

JD students are chosen via a competitive application process.

Yes, during the spring semester of either their 2L or 3L year.

Most LLM and MLS students will spend the entire academic year in Washington, D.C.. However, LLM and MLS students have the option to spend one semester in Arizona and one semester in Washington, D.C.

LLM and MLS students should start in the Fall semester. However, under some circumstances there may be opportunities to start in the Spring semester.

First-year JD students may start only in the Fall semester. JD students then participate in the International Rule of Law and Security Program in their 2L or 3L year.

No, although it is highly recommended.