William & Mary Law School may be renowned for the study of American law, but its international reach is considerable. Just ask the several students from foreign lands who matriculated this spring.
Due to increased demand, the Law School’s LL.M. program allowed five students to begin in January (rather than the traditional autumn start date): Mohammed Almuqrin, Rehab Alsulaiman, Erson Bonhomme, Cheikh-Abdelkader Mani, and Lie Wang.
Each student comes from a unique background, having been foreign-educated prior to enrolling.
“We are so pleased to have this entering cohort of students,” said Jen Stevenson, associate director of the LL.M. Program. “They represent different countries and perspectives, and add greatly to the internationalization of the Law School.”
Rehab Alsulaiman, for instance, attended Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University (PNU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and majored in Islamic law. Working in education prior to arriving at William & Mary, Alsulaiman came to the United States in 2013 with her family. She lives in Washington, D.C., where her husband works and her children attend school.
Alsulaiman chose William & Mary because she liked the small town atmosphere. A recommendation from a friend of her husband’s sealed the deal.
Although she has enjoyed her time here, Alsulaiman commented that transition to life in the United States has been difficult, with major differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia in language, culture, religion, and law.
Alsulaiman said the one thing she wants other students to know about her is that she ran a home business making and selling chocolate sweets for a year prior to law school.
Cultural differences haven’t stopped LL.M. students from finding humor in their interactions with American peers. Indeed, when asked where he came from, Erson Bonhomme smirked, “From my mother. Where else?”
Before coming to William & Mary, Bonhomme lived in Haiti and received a law degree from the State University of Haiti. Bonhomme chose William & Mary after living in the United States for three years and receiving a master’s degree. Professors told him William & Mary was an excellent choice. Checking out the rankings, Bonhomme filled out the application.
Upon completing the LL.M. program, Bonhomme plans to stay in the United States and work in an area of the law where he can “make good money.” He admits to facing challenges while attending school; English is not his primary language and readings often take time. Nonetheless, he explains that he likes Williamsburg, as it allows him to focus on his studies without much distraction.
Mohammed Almuqrin, like Alsulaiman, was born in Saudi Arabia, where he received a law degree and attended King Saud University. Like Bonhomme, Almuqrin states that he enjoys Williamsburg’s environment, a motivating factor in his choice to apply to William & Mary.
After graduation, he is interested in pursuing international law and, if given the chance, would stay in the United States. He spent a year and a half in Oregon learning English prior to his arrival.
“Studying in a foreign country is a challenge, but it’s a normal challenge for most LL.M. students,” says Almuqrin. “I mean, I came from another country, which has different systems, and the way I studied law is 90 percent different, but I’m truly enjoying the education I’m getting at William & Mary.”
William & Mary Law School’s LL.M. program is designed for foreign educated students who desire exposure to and education in the American legal system. Starting in 1989, William & Mary Law School has hosted students from all around the world. LL.M students design their own program of study and can choose from a broad array of courses, including business and environmental law. The new LL.M. program allows students to participate in a three-semester, full-time program.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.