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    May 25, 2024  
Draft 2024-2025 Law School Student Handbook 
    
Draft 2024-2025 Law School Student Handbook

Graduate Law Programs



Unless otherwise indicated, the administrative policies and procedures described in other sections of this handbook apply to all students in the School of Law, including graduate law students. Wherever there is a note referring graduate law students to differing LLM and SJD policies, students can find them stated in this section.

The Academic Calendar and published deadlines apply to all law students in all programs.

All LLM and SJD students have access to all student services, including the law library, online research, computer support, counseling and advising, student organizations, career services, bar examination loans, and many of the special programs and clinics.

The policies and procedures that follow apply to all students in all graduate programs, whether they are graduates of US or foreign schools of law, and whether they are US citizens, permanent residents, or attending school on an F-1 or J-1 student (temporary/non-immigrant) visa.

Additional rules governing SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System) registration and tracking of foreign law graduates on F-1 or J-1 student visas may be found in the International Students  section of this handbook.

Each LLM and SJD program has special requirements in addition to those spelled out in this handbook. Every student should seek advising from their relevant Program Directors to ensure that they are complying with the program rules and requirements.

Advising and Registration Process

LLM Programs

All LLM students should seek academic advising every semester before registering for classes and obtain the approvals from their LLM Program Director for all courses as needed.

LLM Tax and Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law graduate students should use myGGU/Self-Service for online registration.

All other LLM graduate law students should use myGGU/Self-Service to “plan” their course schedule and request “Review” for approval from their Program Director. Once planned courses are approved, students will be registered by the Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships.

SJD Program

All SJD students should seek academic advising every semester before registering for classes and obtain the approvals from the SJD Program Director for all courses as needed. Upon receiving approval from the program director, students should use myGGU/Self-Service to “Plan” their course schedule and request “Review” for approval from the SJD Program Director. Once planned courses are approved, students will be registered by the Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships.  

SJD students who need to register ONLY for “SJD Additional Residency,” or “SJD Candidacy” (without registering to any courses and/or CPT) do NOT need to get approval from the SJD Program Director. They should use myGGU/Self-Service to plan “SJD Additional Residency,” or “SJD Candidacy” course and request “Review.” The Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships will review and register.  

Graduate students may find that their registration is blocked if a course for which they are attempting to register has a prerequisite which they have not taken at Golden Gate. Students should contact their Program Director for approval.

Registration Policy, Overloads and Full Course Loads

SJD and LLM students are expected to pursue, without interruption, the complete course of study leading to the completion of their degrees. Enrollment in the summer session is optional except for students with approved curricular practical training (CPT), externship, directed study, and financial aid. Additional rules may apply to international students. Students who fail to comply with the Continuous Enrollment Policy  may be administratively withdrawn from law school. 

The programs also allow for leaves of absence in increments of up to one year (and in special cases more) and for course overloads when authorized by the Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships. All students should be aware that financial aid regulations and visa requirements may limit their options. When in doubt, students should seek specific advising to avoid problems. See Enrollment Status Classifications and Reporting  for more information.

International students in any program are not required to register for the summer session as it is an optional term.  Non-registration during the summer term will not violate a student’s visa requirements. For more information, review the International Students  section of this handbook.

Auditing

Students who are enrolled in an LLM degree program are not allowed to audit courses. SJD students and students who are not pursuing a degree are allowed to audit courses upon approval. Attorneys may enroll in courses as auditors on a space available basis. Subject to the approval of the Program Director, a limited number of non-degree candidates who are not attorneys may audit certain tax and trust and estate courses.
 
Auditing is always subject to the approval of the instructor for the course. Courses taken in an audit status may not be applied to an LLM program. Auditors may be required to participate in class discussions, but they may not take the final exam and they receive no grade or academic credit for the course. Auditors are subject to the School of Law’s Standards of Student Conduct.
 
Auditing students will receive a 1/3 discount on their tuition as a result of not receiving a letter grade in the course.  This discount is applied at the time of registration and applies only to tuition, not to any student fees.  The auditor tuition discount is not considered a scholarship.

SJD and non-matriculated students may change to audit status by submission of a Registration Request form until the last day of instruction for the term. Once the status of a course has been changed to audit, it may not be revoked.

Visiting Scholars

Visiting scholars are law graduates, law professors and professionals, and government officials from around the world who register for one or two semesters at Golden Gate to pursue significant independent legal research projects while in residence on the GGU campus. These scholars do not have a degree objective but may enroll in one or more classes according to the terms of their invitation only after the approval of the Program Director. Visiting scholars may take the final examination and receive a grade for the course. Visiting scholars are required to pay registration fees and international student fees. 

Adding and Dropping Courses

All graduate law students must meet all of the deadlines to add or drop courses to avoid penalties. However, where students experience unavoidable visa problems that delay their arrival and registration, the situation will be taken into account. F and J visa holding students planning to enroll in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) should see the International Students  section for eligibility and registration procedures.

Credit/No Credit Grade Election

With the approval of their Program Director, LLM students may take up to six units of non-required courses on a credit/no credit grade basis. The deadlines for submitting the Election for Credit/No Credit form are available in the Academic Calendar; see the Administrative Rules & Procedures  section of this handbook.

Language Accommodation for Exams

LLM or SJD students whose first language is not English and whose prior law degree was not obtained in English may request a language accommodation for examinations only in special circumstances and with the approval of the Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships. A Request for Language Accommodation form is available on the Registrar’s Office forms webpage. The form must be completed and submitted by the deadline listed on the form. The deadline for requesting language accommodations is the “Last day to Drop” available in the Academic Calendar. The Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships must approve and sign the request. Late requests will not be granted.

If approved, the language accommodation allows an extra 20 minutes per hour of scheduled examination time and permits accommodated students to bring a bilingual dictionary to the exam. The dictionary must be “English to student’s language” or “student’s language to English” only. English language dictionaries with definitions, electronic translators with definitions, and law dictionaries are NOT permitted. Students must present the dictionary that they are planning to use to the Director of International Students, Programs, and Partnerships to get approval prior to the exam date.

Requests must be made each term in which the student wants to receive the language accommodation. Approval in a prior term does not carry over to subsequent terms.

Grading Policies

Many LLM students plan to work in U.S. law offices as law clerks or lawyers. Therefore, they need to have a realistic picture of their ability to understand and practice U.S. law.

Grade Values

Grades are based on a twelve-category letter system with numerical point equivalents as follows:

  GRADE POINTS PER UNIT
  A+ 4.0 (awarded at discretion of instructor, to 1 student maximum in any course)
  A 4.0
  A- 3.67
  B+ 3.33
  B 3.0
  B- 2.67
  C+ 2.33
  C 2.0
  C- 1.67
  D 1.0
  F 0.0
  WF 0.0

Retaking A Course

LLM and SJD students who have received a “C-” or lower grade in a specific course, or who are on academic probation, may retake a course with permission of, or may be required to retake a course by the Academic Standards Committee. The grade from the second attempt is the grade that will be calculated in the student’s GPA, whether or not it is higher than the first grade earned. The first grade will not be calculated in the student’s GPA, but the course and grade will appear on the student’s transcript as having been repeated. All tuition charges and fees associated with the second attempt must be paid by the student.

Academic Standards

The following academic standards pertain to those who matriculate as students during the academic year covered by this edition of the handbook. Unless otherwise noted, continuing students who matriculated in prior academic years are governed by the Academic Standards in the handbooks for their respective matriculation years.

This section pertains only to students in LLM, Graduate Certificate, or SJD programs.

Students also should note that the policies, rules and procedures in the Student Handbook are subject to change. The Graduate Law Programs office will make every attempt to notify students of any changes to their program requirements, but it is the students’ responsibility to check the online version of the handbook throughout the year to keep apprised of any changes to program rules and policies.

Definitions

  1. “Academic year” means the two-semester period from August through May.
  2. “Associate Dean” means the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School or the person appointed by the Associate Dean to perform or administer a designated task or program.
  3. “LLM Program Director” means the LLM Programs Director or designee for a particular LLM program.
  4. “Student” without other qualification includes both full‑time and part‑time students.
  5. “Grade point average (GPA)” means the figure derived by dividing the total number of grade points a student has earned by the total number of units the student has attempted in courses completed for letter grades. GPAs are not rounded up in order to satisfy academic, financial aid, or career services standards.

LLM and SJD Requirements

  1. LLM and SJD Student Requirements for Good Standing
    LLM students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better, and SJD students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better to remain in good standing. LLM and SJD students will be evaluated for academic standing at the conclusion of each semester following the completion of a cumulative total of eight (8) or more units. LLM students who have completed a cumulative total of fewer than eight (8) units are considered to be in good standing.
  2. LLM and SJD Student Evaluation Outcomes
    After evaluation, LLM and SJD students will be determined to be in good standing or on academic probation. Students who do not achieve the required minimum cumulative GPA in the probation semester(s) may be academically disqualified. Students on academic probation must have their schedules approved by their Program Directors before they will be permitted to register for courses.

Application For Graduation

LLM and SJD students should enter their anticipated date of graduation on the registration form each semester, and this date may be changed by advisement. However, every student must also apply for graduation via myGGU/Student Self-Service in order to have their degrees conferred. The deadlines for filing the application are September 1 for December graduation candidates and December 1 for May and July graduation candidates.

To be considered a candidate for graduation, students must apply for graduation online through myGGU/Student Self-Service. Applications are due by December 1 of the year prior to the commencement ceremony for their graduation class. Students planning to graduate must submit this form whether or not they expect to attend the commencement ceremony. Only students who are in good academic standing and good financial standing will be eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony. Students visiting away at another law school during their last academic year still are required to apply for graduation by the deadline. Completing the application allows the Registrar’s Office to order a student’s diploma and ensures that the student will receive mailings and/or email updates regarding commencement throughout the spring semester. Completing the application form does not include ordering regalia, which is a separate process.

Graduation Honors (Effective Fall 2022)

Honors are awarded to master’s degree graduates who earned cumulative program grade point averages (GPAs) in their academic programs as follows:

With highest honors 4.000 GPA
With high honors 3.900-3.999 GPA
With honors 3.800-3.899 GPA

Honors are awarded as of the date graduates’ degrees are conferred. Honors appear on both graduates’ diplomas and official transcripts. If graduates completed any coursework that did not apply to their academic program requirements, it is not included in their program GPA calculations and therefore does not affect their honors eligibility.

Note: honors are not awarded for certificate programs or doctoral degree programs (e.g., SJD).

Transcripts

LLM and SJD students must provide official transcripts of their prior law study with their application. These transcripts become the property of Golden Gate University and remain in the student’s file for up to five years after graduation. Students who have graduated from law school in non-English speaking nations must provide certified translations as well.

Transcripts for Bar Examinations

All students who plan to take a bar examination should review the state bar requirements before requesting documentation for the bar. Students from other countries should bring with them to the U.S. an official transcript and a certified translation in sealed envelopes or with official seals for submission to the bar when applying to take the bar exam. Upon completing the LLM degree, the student should order an official Golden Gate University transcript from the National Student Clearinghouse. Students from nations where it may take considerable time to obtain official records should plan ahead.

Graduate law students who obtained their first degrees in law from law schools located in foreign countries who are seeking admission to the State Bar of California should order official Golden Gate University transcripts from the National Student Clearinghouse to be sent to the Office of Admissions in Los Angeles as discussed on the Guidelines for Applicants with a Foreign Law Degree page. Note: the word “certificate” on the California State Bar webpage means “transcript.” See the Foreign Education page for additional information regarding registration requirements.

LLM Student Request for Transfer or Reapplication of Units

Generally, whether the courses were taken while the student was in an LLM program, up to twelve units from courses in a related program at an ABA-approved LLM program may be counted towards an LLM program at Golden Gate University School of Law. The student must have earned a grade of at least “B-” (2.67) in each course to be transferred. Consent of the receiving Program Director is required for any transfer or reapplication of units.

Change of LLM Program

A student may change from one LLM program to another by submitting a Student Request to Change LLM Program form to the director of the new program. The new program’s director will determine admission eligibility and whether any scholarship awarded to the student in the former program will be applicable in the new program. The new program’s director will also determine what, if any, courses taken in the former program will apply to the new program. Request forms are available from the Graduate Law Office.

Master of Laws

Graduate Certificate