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LL.M. students opt for new January admission option

Saleh Abaddi and Urbain Jiggi decided to take advantage of Penn State Law’s new January admission option to get a jump on their LL.M. degrees at Penn State Law. Both students, who have been in the United States for nearly two years, explain why they chose Penn State and what it's like to be in a Penn State Law classroom. 

Photo of Saleh Abbadi

Saleh Abbadi

Saleh Abbadi received his bachelor’s degree from Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia and completed the courses of his master’s degree from the High Judicial Institute for Qualification, a post graduate school for preparing judges also in Saudi Arabia. After working for four years as a legal researcher at Bank Albilad, Saudi Arabia, Abbadi decided to study abroad and enrolled at the University of California where he took courses in constitutional law, securities regulation and English language skills.

A self-described explorer, Abbadi wanted to experience more places than just California while in the United States, so he moved his studies from the West Coast to the East Coast to pursue an LL.M. degree at Penn State Law. After driving five days cross country through desserts, mountain ranges, and wide open plains, he saw his first snow fall upon his arrival in State College.

His most interesting and favorite class so far has been International Arbitration with Professor Tom Carbonneau. “The professor is active and enthusiastic. Every student in the class is encouraged to participate – to think about how arbitration and litigation affect corporations and businesses across the world and to analyze how every country applies its own legal system to problems and issues that come out of practicing business internationally and dealing with other countries’ companies.”

Coming from a civil law system, Abbadi said that his biggest challenge in the classroom is "understanding the common law system, especially when professors refer to precedent cases explaining how the legal rules are formed from court decisions." 

“When I quit my job and decided to study abroad, many of my family members and friends told me not to do it because I had a good job. But I like adventure and I have to make sacrifices to study in the U.S. to increase my knowledge of American and international law.”

After completing his LL.M. degree, Abbadi plans to return to Saudi Arabia to practice law with an international law firm where he can apply his background in Islamic Law with his knowledge of American law. “I am also considering getting an S.J.D., a Ph.D. in law, here in the United States so that I can go back to the university and teach classes in my home country. But for short term planning, I plan to practice law in Saudi Arabia.”

Photo of Urbain Jiggi

Urbain Jiggi

Two years ago Urbain Jiggi, a foreign legal consultant from Cameroon, traveled to the United States and established the law office – Jiggi Tah, LLC – in Wilmington, Delaware. A member of both the Delaware and Cameroon bars, Jiggi travels back and forth between Delaware and his home country several times a year handling corporate and family law matters for clients in both venues.

Jiggi earned his LL.B. degree from the University of Beua, Cameroon, and an advanced diploma in international maritime law from the UN International Maritime Law Institute in Malta. He’s pursuing an LL.M. degree from Penn State Law to gain a better understanding of the American legal system so he can enhance his work. “In Cameroon, we have a lot of American companies coming in, and these companies feel more comfortable working with someone who has an understanding of the legal system in the United States,” Jiggi said.

As to his class room experience at Penn State Law Jiggi said, “I’m quite impressed with the student constitution of Penn State. Contrary to what I had expected, Penn State has a very diverse student population. When I came, I was quite surprised to see that there are people from almost everywhere. In fact in my LLM class, three-quarters are from Saudi Arabia. We have someone from Ghana. We have someone from China, and we have someone from Thailand. The world has about five legal systems and I have all of them in my class. That’s the beauty of the class. It’s diverse.”

“My classmates from Saudi Arabia share with me different views I never knew about. I speak to my friend from China and he has something completely different to share. I speak to my friend from Thailand which has a complete hybrid system – a blending of everything together. So it’s just beautiful.

Jiggi plans to run for office one day in his home country. “Lawyers have a lot of power to change things. The political structure in Cameroon is comprised of mostly lawyers,” he explained. “I have certain political ambitions so I thought being a lawyer would guide me along these ambitions. Back home in Cameroon, I would like to run for local parliament. From there, I’ll see about my other options.”

About Penn State Law's LL.M. Program

Penn State Law trains international lawyers for the global marketplace. For forty-two years, LL.M students from around the world have come to the Law School to advance their careers by studying with our distinguished faculty. What was first called a master’s of comparative law degree, the master of laws program is a 24-credit, one academic year open to individuals who hold a degree in law from an accredited institution outside of the United States.


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