On October 17, 2019, nearly 200 members of the Fordham Law School community gathered to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the school’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program. Founded in 1989, the program has been key in establishing and expanding Fordham Law’s international footprint.
In his remarks, Dean Matthew Diller noted the substantial growth of the program over the past three decades. “The LL.M. program began in 1989 with just 26 students from 17 different countries,” observed Diller. “It started with two programs. Now there are eight. Today, there are 172 LL.M. students enrolled at Fordham from 51 countries. In total, nearly 2,680 students from more than 100 countries across the globe have graduated from the program.”
Featured speaker, Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza LL.M. ’09, partner at Wilkie Farr & Gallagher, thanked the program for “being a home for attorneys from all around the world who come to New York, as I did.” Colombian-born Ossa Daza began her legal career in Wilkie’s Paris office and today heads the firm’s Latin America practice.
Ossa Daza went on to describe her experiences at Fordham, noting that she not only faced intensive studies, but also the dual challenges of acclimating to a new city and being a new mother. Regardless, her time in the program was overwhelmingly a positive one, thanks in no small part to the law school’s welcoming environment and the academic rigor of the LL.M. coursework. Of course, Fordham’s location in the heart of the city further energized her experience.
“New York makes you feel like nothing is impossible,” she said. “There is so much to see, to learn, to do, and then, at a place like Fordham, you can find a sounding board and a warm welcome.”
Welcoming new members to the law school community is as ingrained in the Fordham Law ethos as the university’s motto, “In the Service of Others.” Toni Jaeger-Fine, assistant dean of international and non-J.D. programs, echoed this sentiment, remarking, “Some people think it’s welcoming just to invite people to the dance. But what we strive for here is a really, truly welcoming environment; more than inviting you to the dance, we want to dance with every single one of you. We want to make sure that every single one of you has an active, engaged role in our community.”