Apps Every LL.M. Student Should Have on Their Devices

I love gadgets that make my life easier, but more than that, I love gadgets that make me better. The LL.M. gives you an opportunity not only to earn a U.S. law degree, but also expand your knowledge. The following are examples of digital tools that can help in that regard. The regular use of these apps will make you stand out.

 

Grammarly

Because most of us are not native English speakers, it is only natural that we make mistakes. But while we are here to improve our language skills, we must ensure that we leave a professional impression in all our communications. I have seen emails from LL.M. students that were simply unbearable. Grammarly is a tool that can help you improve your writing and ensure your communications are mistake-free.

Grammarly is similar to the spellcheck feature in Microsoft Word in that it automatically detects grammar, spelling and punctuation errors in writing. But it also has a much broader application. It detects word choice, wordiness, style mistakes and plagiarism. Before you submit your next paper, you should run it through Grammarly. You will be amazed by how many thoughts did not originate in your head.

Wordiness is another common mistake made by LL.M. students, either because a sentence is translated literally from the native language or because our limited vocabulary often requires that we describe rather than name. Grammarly is available as a browser extension and app for both IOS and Android. A premium service is also available for a monthly fee.

 

English Law Dictionary (Nolo)

As foreigners, we obviously need a dictionary but we should also have an English law dictionary handy. A law dictionary can be overwhelming and often not even helpful for foreign LL.M. students, since a term is often explained with even more words we, as non-native speakers, do not understand. Nolo’s plain law dictionary attempts to describe legal terms in plain English to make comprehension easier. This dictionary is not supposed to be the end of our attempt to understand legal terms, but rather the beginning of our investigation.

 

Word of the Day

I have been living in the U.S. for seven years now and the dictionary remains my steady companion. It is very important to me that I expand my vocabulary. Word of the day apps are fun and easy tools we can use to learn new words. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary app or the Word of the Day app are just two examples of such tools. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary also has fun games to expand your vocabulary. It takes five minutes every day to expand your word pool. These are five minutes well spent.

 

SCOTUSBlog

SCOTUSblog is a law blog written by lawyers, law professors, and law students about the Supreme Court of the United States. It tracks cases before the Court from the certiorari stage through the merits stage. The site live blogs as the Court announces opinions and grants the writ of certiorari and frequently hosts symposia with leading experts on the cases before the Court. It also maintains an archive of the briefs and other documents in each case. It is available as an app, so you always have it handy.

 

Project Gutenberg App

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books in open formats that can be used on almost any device. It currently has over 56,000 free e-books. What is important for you as an LL.M. student is to acquaint yourself with American literature and history as they offer a beautiful window into U.S. culture. Even though this culture is young, it is still rich. As foreigners visiting this country, one of our objectives should be to absorb as much as possible while we are here.

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I understand the time constraints we all operate under. But if we spend 15 minutes less on Instagram and Facebook and spend that time on the above examples instead, we will greatly enrich the LL.M. experience.

I do not endorse any of the products but merely use them as examples. Please feel free to look for comparable apps.

 

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Desiree Jaeger-Fine is principal of Jaeger-Fine Consulting, LLC, a career management firm for international attorneys in New York, and author of A Short & Happy Guide to Networking (West Academic Publishing) and A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired (West Academic Publishing, forthcoming).