For Italian Student, LLM a Passport to Passing CA & NY Bar Exams
Valeria Granata ’14 arrived at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles intending to earn an international LLM degree and then return home to Milan, Italy, to practice. Instead, she has remained in Los Angeles as one of the nearly 800 lawyers with a major international law firm. Loyola is a big part of the reason why.
The Law School developed a schedule of courses for her that qualified her to take the California and New York bar exams. She passed both. In addition, Loyola allowed her to participate in a law firm internship while also taking classes and encouraged her to participate in several of its pro bono clinics.
Granata’s experiential training quickly involved her in local bar association activities. In fact, within a couple of years of receiving her LLM in 2014, she was a vice president of the city’s Italian American Lawyers Association. Currently, she is a member of the Diversity in the Profession Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
A native of Milan, Italy, Granata long had an interest in law. She received her law degree in 2012 from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. She spent part of her final summer studying constitutional law and criminology at another Southern California law school.
Then in 2013, she began pursuing her LLM. Although she was curious about the city of Los Angeles, the main draw for her was Loyola Law School. “I chose Loyola because it has a really tailored program for foreign graduates,” Granata says.
In particular, the school allowed her to work as an intern for a small law firm for class credit. “That was really interesting to me because while I was studying law, I got to see what it’s like to practice law in the U.S.” Other law schools that accepted her did not permit international LLM students to take internships, she says.
Giving back to the community is important to Granata, as it is to Loyola. So, she was very pleased that the school allowed her to work on several of its pro bono projects, including the Immigrant Justice Clinic and the Loyola Project for the Innocent.
She was most moved by volunteering with Inner City Law Center to aid tenants living on Skid Row. “That experience changed me,” she says. “That opened my eyes a lot.”
For her LLM studies, Granata focused on commercial and business law-related classes. She particularly appreciated Professor Therese Maynard’s approach to teaching Business Associations. A former securities attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Maynard holds Loyola’s William G. Coskran chair and founded Loyola’s Business Law Practicum.
“Prof. Maynard explained things from a legal practitioner’s perspective,” Granata says. “It was really informative.”
Perhaps most importantly, she says, Loyola helps international students connect with the local legal community. “For me, what was amazing is my professors and the school immediately put me in contact with bar associations,” she says. “Loyola teaches you how to network and why it’s important and what to do to be successful as a lawyer.”
The legal knowledge and networking skills definitely paid off for Granata. After graduation, she worked as a law clerk and then a lawyer for a small real estate and commercial law firm. Then, just this fall, she became an associate at a major national firm, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, which has 35 offices in the U.S. plus another in London.