The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law has announced plans to offer an LL.M. in Law and Sexuality — the first of its kind at a U.S. law school, according to administrators. The program will focus on preparing students to practice and perform scholarship in gender-identity and sexual-orientation law.

“As law and policy on LGBT issues continue to unfold in our courts and legislatures, this program will provide young lawyers with the tools they need to engage in this dynamic and rapidly changing area of law,” director of graduate studies Lara Stemple said. Few programs in the United States or abroad center on sexuality and the law, she added.

Law schools have been adding master of laws programs and specializations in recent years, partly in response to declining interest in the traditional juris doctor curriculum and falling tuition revenues. Some school have added or expanded LL.M. programs geared toward foreign-trained lawyers. Others have added them in specialized areas for J.D.-holders from the United States. St. John’s University School of Law this year launched an LL.M. in International and Comparative Sports Law and George Washington University Law School announced plans for a program in health care policy, for example.

UCLA’s LL.M. in Law and Sexuality will be open to U.S. and foreign-trained lawyers and will dovetail with the school’s highly regarded Williams Institute. That think tank conducts research into sexual-orientation and gender-identity law as it affects the military, public health, immigration, state recognition of same-sex marriage and additional factors. Executive director Brad Sears said both the institute and students would benefit from the new, nine-month LL.M. program.

“With recent projects in Latin America, Africa, the Balkans and South Asia, the Williams Institutes’ work is increasingly international,” he said. “Students in the new program will gain experience and exposure by working with the institute, and they will greatly enhance our work.”

In addition to working on institute projects, the LL.M. students will take classes and participate in a workshop centered on sexuality and the law. They also must complete an extensive writing project.

Applicants must complete an admissions process separate from the school’s general LL.M. program.

Karen Sloan can be contacted at