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January 21, 2005

'The First of Its Kind':
The Law School's New Degree in National Security Law

A New Communications Law LL.M. Degree Also Offered

By Anne Cassidy

This semester, Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law becomes the first law school in the country to offer a Master of Laws degree in a crucial subject: national security law. “To the best of my knowledge and research, our LL.M. in national security law is the first of its kind in the world,” says William F. Fox Jr., dean of the law school. 

Meeting the need for legal experts in the growing and highly visible field of national security, the program allows lawyers with a J.D., or juris doctor, degree to earn the LL.M. by specializing in classes the law school currently offers that relate to national security.

LL.M. is an abbreviation of the Latin legum magister, or master of laws, and is a postgraduate law degree that gives attorneys the opportunity to concentrate in a single area. Some lawyers use an LL.M. degree to enter a new field and others to better perform a job they’re already doing. CUA's new LL.M. takes a year for a full-time student to complete.


The 9-11 attacks put national security -- and legal issues related to it -- in the forefront of the nation's agenda. These factors inspired CUA's new national security Master of Laws program.

“We designed this program to use national security as an umbrella, giving the student a chance to take courses in all the subjects being impacted by national security, including communications infrastructure, military law, criminal law related to terrorism, cyberlaw and human rights law,” says Daniel F. Ahr (J.D. 2003), a special assistant for graduate programs at the law school. “In a post 9-11 world almost every aspect of life is forced to incorporate some international or domestic security component. Almost any public agency, whether it’s in government or private hands, has been forced to ask national security questions.” Recognizing this need is one reason CUA decided to offer the program. Another is that national security is an area in which the law school has traditionally excelled. “There is no better city in the world for this type of program and no law school better positioned than we are to deliver a high-quality, unique education in national security.  We can offer students the expertise of our faculty, many excellent classes on the subject and a Washington, D.C., location,” says Dean Fox. “There are thousands of lawyers in the area working for the military, intelligence and public safety communities who can profit from an advanced law degree that concentrates on national security.”

In addition to the LL.M. in national security, the law school has also begun offering an LL.M. in communications law, another area of strength for the school. “The communications law concentration taps into all the strengths of our Communications Law Institute, now in its 20th year at the law school,” says Dean Fox. 

The law school offers more courses in communications law than any other American law school, as well as the opportunity to earn a certificate in communications law as part of a J.D. degree. The communications LL.M. will feature classes on such topics as telecommunications regulation, trademark law and entertainment law.

David Michael Parker is the first student enrolled in the national security Master of Laws program.
Although they were proposed more than a year ago, the two new LL.M. programs just received the requisite go-ahead from the American Bar Association in November. Because the programs are starting mid-year, Ahr does not expect them to be full — which would mean about four to eight students in each — until the beginning of the 2005-06 academic year. The communications LL.M. has no students enrolled yet and the national security LL.M. has one student, David Michael Parker, who was until recently an attorney with a program in Alabama that provides free legal aid for the elderly.

Parker’s twin brother, also an attorney, worked for a client housed in the World Trade Center in New York City, and Parker spent many anxious hours on Sept. 11, 2001, before learning that his brother was safe. Since then, Parker says he’s been drawn to the “complexity of issues and the debate that surround the development of national security policies.” That new interest, along with a family tradition of military service and a desire to serve, propelled Parker to the Columbus School of Law.  He says he’s excited to be inaugurating the new program. “With its excellent faculty, international reputation and location in our nation’s capital, being at the Columbus School of Law is more than being at the right place at the right time — it is being at the perfect place at a time most needed,” Parker says.

The national security and communication LL.M.’s join the law school’s ongoing American business law LL.M., which is taught mainly in Krakow, Poland and was instituted several years ago. And the new LL.M.’s may be only the beginning. “We hope to broaden our LL.M. concentrations over the next several years,” Fox says.

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