The Executive LLM is the latest evolution of the Graduate Tax Program’s distance education initiatives. It began with the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office. NYU administered an educational program for the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office for many years, initially teaching small groups of attorneys at their 1111 Constitution Avenue headquarters in Washington, DC. In order to train Chief Counsel attorneys outside of the D.C. area, NYU and the IRS began offering distance learning courses. Based upon our positive feedback from students in this distance learning program, we began offering distance learning courses on our own campus in the fall of 2004. The part-time program has historically sought working professionals to train them and help them to be better practitioners. Over the course of the distance learning pilot project, between fall 2004 and spring 2008, the Law School mastered the technology that enables us to reach a broader audience of qualified students seeking our instruction. We also increased the curricular depth of our part-time program, enabling access to daytime courses that were previously difficult for working students to attend.
The Executive LLM program began in the Fall 2008 semester with the goal of attracting the best tax attorneys in the country and removing the geographic constraints to the study of our U.S. tax code. The program started small, with 50 attorneys, and has slowly grown to approximately 100 attorneys by the end of the second academic year. Applications may be submitted for either a fall or spring start, and summer classes may be available as well.
The program is designed for attorneys who are currently practicing tax, and it attracts attorneys who are working in a range of environments: from major international law firms, in-house positions at Fortune 50 companies, international banking concerns, solo practitioners, to attorneys at small estate planning firms. Some students find that they can begin their studies while on a break from practice to start a family, and that they can then complete their studies at a slower pace upon their return to practice. Most students are studying within the U.S., but several U.S.-educated students have taken courses and exams while working in Europe and Asia.
This degree program is not primarily designed for foreign-educated attorneys, as those attorneys are generally seeking to take courses which will make them eligible to sit for the NY state bar exam, and online courses likely will not count as being taken in residence for purposes of the bar exam. Many law firms located in countries where English is not a native language also prefer to see students take coursework in an immersive English-language environment. The best way to do that is by coming to study in the U.S. Our online offerings are also somewhat limited. For instance, we do not offer online versions of the typical elective courses which civil-law educated attorneys would seek out, such as a course on common law legal systems, or a course in U.S. Corporate Law. Those courses are currently only offered at our New York City campus. For these reasons, if a foreign-educated student's goals are to take the New York state bar, perfect their spoken legal English, and to study a common law legal system, then a student should come to study on campus. However, the executive LL.M. program may be a good fit for a working foreign-educated tax attorney who wishes to study U.S. tax law on a part-time online basis over the course of five years.
Students may only enroll in the E-LLM on a part-time basis. Part-time students are generally limited to taking six credits per semester, and working attorneys rarely take more than 4 credits in a semester. All graduate tax students must complete a total of 24 credits. Part-time degree candidates, such as those enrolled in the Executive LLM, must complete 20 of these credits in graduate tax courses, including a course in tax procedure. If a student has taken a tax procedure course in law school this requirement may be waived. All students must maintain a B- (2.67) grade point average. On a part-time basis, a student may take up to five years to complete the degree, with most part-time students finishing their studies in about three years. It is expected that applicants complete a basic federal income tax course before enrolling in the LL.M. program, though a zero credit online income tax survey course is available.
Exams aren’t usually thought of by prospective students, but they present an important logistical issue. Students in the executive program are currently eligible to use the remote proctor examination device. This device is exclusively available for Executive LL.M. students and is not available to full-time or part-time tax LL.M. students, J.D. students, etc. It allows executive LL.M. students to examine in their home or office, subject to video and audio monitoring. The date of the exam is fixed and cannot be changed except in exigent circumstances, exactly as with our on campus students. Some adjustments can be made for executive LL.M. students in other time zones to avoid early morning or late night testing and so that they can test during our hours of technical support availability. Students beginning in the fall of 2010 will incur a fee of $150 to obtain the remote proctor device, which we intend to use as a means of proctoring exams remotely for the near future.
Up to four credits may be transferred from another law school, as long as the courses meet the general requirements of the Graduate Division for transfer credit. However, transfer credits will be counted as non-tax elective credits, even if the substantive area covered by the class was taxation. Therefore, all tax LL.M. students still must take at least 20 credits in taxation from NYU School of Law.
Aside from the tax procedure and residence requirement, students are free to design their programs to suit their individual needs. One course that all students should consider taking is “Taxation of Property Transactions.” This course gives you a "basis" in the issues and concepts that pervade tax law. The instructors in the more advanced courses assume that all students have mastered this material and do not spend class time reviewing these issues and concepts.
For those students interested in designing their program of study to concentrate on areas of particular interest, the Graduate Tax Program provides suggested courses of study for the following areas: General Taxation, Business Taxation, International Taxation, Estate Planning, and Tax Policy.