What Is an LLM Degree and Why Should I Get an LLM?
The Master of Laws degree (or Masters in Law degree, LL.M. degree), more commonly known as the LL.M., is an advanced graduate law degree. Candidates commonly already hold a first degree in law and are interested in furthering their study of the law. Obtaining an LL.M. possesses a number of different advantages. These include:
In many countries, attorneys with LL.M. degrees are better poised to obtain positions at top law firms or advance their careers within leading businesses or firms. In some countries, an LL.M. may even pave the way to a position on the judiciary.
A typical LL.M. class at a leading law school in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, or elsewhere contains candidates from a number of different countries. As you spend anywhere from nine months to one year with your classmates, this presents a unique opportunity to form professional and personal networks with leading attorneys around the world. However, note that with the advent of online LL.M. programs it is now also possible to earn a Masters of Law without leaving your home country (or your desk).
A specialized LL.M. degree enables attorneys to deepen or change their expertise in a particular field of law. Typical specialized LL.M. programs include tax law, business law, commercial law, international law, or arbitration. Having specialized in a particular area can then open new career opportunities including complete switches in practice areas.
New Career Opportunities
An LL.M. degree can open doors to careers in new jurisdictions. For example, LL.M. graduates with U.S. LL.M. degrees are qualified to take the New York or California bars and can obtain positions with leading law firms in these areas. Similarly, LL.M. graduates from British schools are well poised to join U.K. law firms or become English barristers.
Expertise in Comparative Law
LL.M. candidates from civil law jurisdictions can learn or deepen their knowledge of the common law, which can be integral to functioning in today’s global legal market. LL.M. programs also present unique opportunities to further civil law candidates’ study of legal English. As many transactions today take place across common and civil law jurisdictions, knowledge of the common law and a good command of legal English can ensure a more efficient and successful practice.
An LL.M. degree is now the first step towards a career in academia in many countries. It presents a unique opportunity to specialize in a particular field or to undertake intensive research. It can also prove beneficial towards obtaining a doctoral level degree in law such as the J.S.D., S.J.D., D.Phil. or Ph.D.
Is an LLM for You?
It is important to remember that there is no one right reason to pursue an LL.M. It may be a function of career goals or personal interests or even a combination of the two. However, most LL.M. holders would agree: pursuing an LL.M. is a year well spent.
Yet, getting into a prestigious LL.M. program is as competitive as it is valuable for successful applicants. For that reason, putting together a well-crafted LL.M. application is of utmost importance. If you are unsure as to what makes an outstanding LL.M. application, feel free to check out our LLM Blog and to contact us.