James Speta is a professor and Senior Associate Dean for International Initiatives at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and Associate Dean of the Executive LL.M. program. His extensive and cross-disciplinary professional experience makes his insight and knowledge unmatched. We spoke to him about a transformative program that’s delivered in partnership between two of the world’s top law schools.
What do you think is the importance of the IE Law School and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law partnership?
The partnership between IE Law School and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law has lasted over 15 years now and it’s been incredibly valuable. It provides a unique learning experience, bringing together students from all kinds of different backgrounds and places.
From Northwestern University’s perspective, IE Law School is one of the best in Europe. A great facility in the world-class city of Madrid, an amazing alumni network, and cutting-edge faculty engaged in research are just some of the things which set IE Law School apart. IE Law’s School experience in online and executive programs, combined with Northwestern’s expertise, makes for a special program that will continue to benefit our students for years to come.
Gaining deep expertise in business is vital for our students and their development. The partnership between Northwestern and IE Law School takes this learning to an international level with an intense focus on US legal practice within a business context. Learning how international practice and American practice differ, and how their problem-solving methods diverge, gives our students a broader view of the legal world.
As a professor, one of the most rewarding parts of the program is seeing students who are already experienced lawyers bringing their own expertise to the classroom. This leads to interesting discussions about cutting-edge problems from all over the world. Through this program, the students learn from each other as well as from faculty, providing a truly enriching learning environment.
I think the principal impact is the deepening of participants’ understanding of the legal and business problems they’re confronting every day. We’ve seen students leave the program better equipped to take up positions globally and progress their careers or business. They encounter more international work and new challenges, and many of them have progressed in their careers or moved into new positions around the world.
The fact that the Executive LL.M. program is a collaboration between IE Law School and Northwestern is itself unique. Both schools have cutting-edge expertise in law and business, and both have experience in executive programs for ambitious lawyers.
Diving deeper, the program allows students the unique opportunity to maintain their current practice or work alongside their education. They still get to take advantage of all the benefits of on-campus learning, building personal and professional networks, without compromising their professional trajectory.
In terms of networking opportunities, as graduates of a joint program, students become part of two alumni communities—two of the most powerful networks of previous students, spanning the globe. Whatever the legal or business problem, and wherever in the world, a graduate of this program, IE Law School, Northwestern or all three will be able to help and provide valuable insight and a different perspective.
I find the engagement in the Executive LL.M. classroom really wonderful. I’ve taught in this program for many years and a lot of the students are experienced lawyers, facing issues in their own careers that I can understand and empathize with.
I learn from them as much as I teach them!