Program at a Glance
Estate Planning, LLM
Golden Gate University School of Law is the only law school in the western United States that offers a LLM in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. The program has an unparalleled array of course offerings that reflect both the technical and people-oriented nature of this practice area as well the need for practical experiential learning. Students are taught by practicing attorneys and judges with many opportunities for clerkships and externships with Bay Area law firms and Superior Court Probate Departments. Graduates of this program will be fully capable of starting and running their own practices or sought after as highly trained associates for established firms. This program is designed to be compatible with the State Bar of California Legal Specialist Certification Program.
National & Regional Recognition
Taught by same faculty from Tax LLM program, which has been repeatedly ranked by TaxTalent, a national network of tax employers and tax professionals, among the top 10LLM Tax programs nationwide, and it is the highest ranking of any California Tax LLM program. Tax LLM program is consistently listed in The Recorder’s “Best LLM Programs in California.”
Demand for skilled attorneys in this practice area has grown substantially and is predicted to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Develop professional contacts through substantive courses supplemented with workshops, field work, and externships in taxation, trusts, estates, and elder care. One-on-one career counseling, professional and student organizations, and events with GGU Law’s robust alumni network offer additional networking opportunities.
Applicants may complete their LLM degree in only one semester. Applicants may transfer up to 12 qualifying units from ABA-accredited JD or other LLM programs toward their LLM Degree, allowing them to graduate in as little as one semester. JD students may apply during the final year of their JD Program for early (provisional) admission.
All applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible during the admission cycle. To receive consideration by the Admissions Committee, applicants must submit their applications by the posted deadline. Applications may be accepted after the posted deadline and are reviewed on a space-available basis.
A complete LLM program application consists of the following:
- Completed LLM Application, available at www.lsac.org
- Personal Statement;
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.);
- Character and Fitness Addendum (if applicable);
- Letters of Recommendation;
- Law School Transcripts (translated if not in English);
- Interview (if applicable); and
- Non-US applicants must submit additional documents, including English proficiency demonstrated with either the TOEFL, IELTS, interview with Program Director, or waived for the exceptions
There is no fee to apply. It is highly recommended that applicants apply prior to the priority deadline as admission and scholarship decisions are made on a rolling basis.
- April 1 is the priority application deadline for starting the program in the Fall (August), deadline extension to June 1
- December 1 is the application deadline for starting the program in the Spring (January)
- April 1 is the application deadline for starting the program in the Summer (late May) — limited to Taxation and Estate Planning programs ONLY.
Applications are complete when they contain all of the required materials detailed below. Once an application is complete, it is forwarded to the Admissions Committee for review. A decision is typically rendered four to six weeks after an application is forwarded to the Committee, but may be reached sooner. Applicants will be notified of decisions through email and LSAC’s Online Status Check (see below). All admission decisions are final.
Applicants must use the electronic application form available through the LSAC website. Applicants are advised to read the application form thoroughly and follow the instructions carefully.
Applicants must submit a personal statement. The statement must be no more than two double-spaced, typed pages in 12-point font. The statement should specifically address: the applicant’s motivation for attending law school; why the applicant will make a successful law student and lawyer; and why the applicant wishes to attend Golden Gate University School of Law. The statement may also address the applicant’s ethnicity/race, employment history, volunteer experience, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, socioeconomic and cultural background, or any unique personal characteristics that would contribute to the university’s law school community. Applicants MUST certify their authorship of the statement, and the fact that they did not receive undue assistance in its preparation.
Resume or C.V.
Applicants must include a current résumé detailing educational and work history along with any current or past community service or volunteer experience.
Character and Fitness Addendum
If an applicant answers “Yes” to any of the questions in the Character and Fitness section, an addendum is required. Applicants must provide a statement that includes the date(s) of occurrence, an explanation of relevant circumstances, and how the matter was resolved for each “Yes” response in that section. If an applicant has questions or is uncertain about how to answer, the applicant is strongly encouraged to consult our Office of Admissions and/or the Committee of Bar Examiners in the state in which the applicant intends to practice law.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit at least two, but no more than four, letters of recommendation. Letters from current or former professors, professional colleagues, and/or supervisors who can attest to the applicant’s intellectual and professional attributes are most effective. Letters from friends, family members, and other such acquaintances are not advisable. Required (at least 2, but 4 encouraged) for the LLM Programs in US Legal Studies, International Legal Studies, Intellectual Property, and Environmental Law. Recommended for the Taxation and Estate Planning Programs. All letters of recommendation must be submitted by the recommender directly.
Law School Transcripts
Applicants must provide all undergraduate and graduate school transcripts. AT MINIMUM, APPLICANTS MUST POSSESS A JD, LLB, OR EQUIVALENT LAW DEGREE FROM A LAW SCHOOL OR UNIVERSITY BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF NEW STUDENT ORIENTATION. Applicants are required to provide original, official transcripts or certified true copies of their academic record, whether from a U.S. institution or non-U.S. institution. These records must be in the original issuing language and come directly from the issuing academic institution. If that issuing language is not English, a certified English translation must accompany the record. If these records are included with the applicant’s submission, academic records should be in an official, sealed envelope from the institution. GGU Law will withdraw offers of admission from admitted students who cannot show proof of a conferred law degree.
Although an interview is not required, one may be scheduled upon request.
For ABA-approved JD or LLM programs, up to twelve (12) completed units may be transferred in at admission. To be considered, the applicant must have taken the course within the last five years; the applicant must have earned grades of B- or better (minimum 2.50 GPA); the course must be equivalent to a required or elective course in that particular LLM program; and the LLM Program Director must determine that application of the the units towards the degree is in the best interest of the student. The application of units is at the discretion of the specific LLM Program Director. Units from any non-law school program, or non-ABA-approved JD or LLM program will not be transferred in at admission.
Through the LSAC website, GGU Law provides an Online Status Check for applicants to check the progress of their application. We encourage applicants to check their status via this service, as it provides the most up-to-date information. Once the Admissions Office receives an application, the applicant is emailed a confirmation, which includes a unique username and password to access the Online Status Check.
To earn the LLM in Estate Planning degree, students must complete 24 units. Classes are offered both during the day as well as in the evening to accommodate working professionals. Students may attend full-time and complete the program in as few as two semesters. Alternatively, students may attend part-time. All students must finish the degree requirements within five years of matriculation. LLM students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale each semester.
Choose 6 units from any of the following courses:
Additional Estate Planning elective courses as identified in the course schedule.
LLM in Estate Planning students may enroll in the tax and estate planning internship/externship programs and are allowed to apply up to six units of this type of non-classroom experience to their degree program. Students seeking to exceed this amount must receive the express permission of the LLM in Taxation and Estate Planning Program Director.
Students may earn both an LLM in Taxation and an LLM in Estate Planning by completing only 36 units. To do so, the student must complete the required courses for each degree and the remaining units may be fulfilled from electives.
Certificate in Taxation
This certificate is offered under the auspices of the LLM in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Program. Courses must be taken for credit (i.e., not as an auditor). A student pursuing the Certificate in Taxation who decides to continue in the LLM in Estate Planning Program may apply all credits earned toward the LLM in Estate Planning degree. Students in the LLM Estate Planning degree program may transfer to the Certificate in Estate Planning Program and all qualifying credits will be transferred.
Choose one additional 3-unit LLM Tax course.
- Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they understand the legal rules, principles, and theories in the respective field of substantive and procedural law.
- Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they can apply the legal rules, principles, and theories in the respective field of substantive and procedural law in order to resolve legal problems and provide advice for prospective clients.
- Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they can clearly and effectively communicate in a professional legal setting within the respective field of law.
- Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to succeed in the respective field of law.
J-1 Visiting Scholar Program
GGU Law’s J-1 Visiting Scholar Program is intended to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences. It is also intended to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries.
In addition to the application requirements listed above we recommend that LLM and SJD applicants from other nations bring with them an extra copy of their official transcripts of undergraduate and law studies as well as any official documents they have received from the courts or bar associations of their home country indicating that they have been admitted to practice law in that country. Students planning to prepare for a bar examination may need a transcript evaluation by an independent agency. This evaluation can be completed after students arrive to begin the LLM or SJD programs.
Applicants who received their degrees outside the United States must satisfy the Admissions Committee of the proficiency of their English language abilities. An official TOEFL score report sent directly from the Education Testing Service (ETS) to the appropriate program at GGU Law satisfies this requirement. Visit the TOEFL Website.
- The TOEFL Institution Code for Golden Gate University is 4329
- The TOEFL Department Code for the School of Law is 03
Applicants must receive a minimum TOEFL score of 580 Paper-based test (PBT), or 92 Internet-based test (iBT) for the LLM (Master of Laws) Programs in U.S. Legal Studies, International Legal Studies, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Taxation, and the SJD (Doctorate) Program in International Legal Studies.
TOEFL Practice Online is a community for test takers preparing for the next generation TOEFL test, or anyone wishing to improve their academic English skills. This is the ONLY website that has official test material from the new TOEFL test that will assess these language skills: Listening, Writing, Reading, Speaking. By becoming a member you can access helpful information, discussion boards, sample responses from a speaking test, and purchase a practice test and practice questions. TOEFL Practice Online Website.
GGU Law accepts International English Language Testing (IELTS) scores. Students need about Level 6.5 to be admitted to the LLM (Master of Laws) Programs and the SJD (Doctorate) Program in International Legal Studies.
Proficiency may be demonstrated with either the TOEFL, IELTS, interview with Program Director, or waived for the exceptions.