Pros and Cons of Transferring from an LLM to a JD Program

To Transfer or Not to Transfer? That is the question for those who are weighing the pros and cons of transferring from an LL.M. program to a J.D. program.

For those interested in working as an attorney in the United States on a permanent basis, there is no better route than pursuing a J.D. at an American law school (on this, see already our earlier post LLM vs JD).  Yet for some foreign students, this is a decision they realize only after having begun an LL.M. program.  For those dreaming of permanent life in an American law firm and currently pursuing an LL.M. degree, the quickest way to achieving their goal is by transferring from the LL.M. to the J.D. program.

A J.D. program is traditionally three years long.  However, by transferring from an LL.M. to a J.D. program, a student can eliminate one year of the J.D. program and complete the program in only two years.  Another benefit is that by transferring from an LL.M. to a J.D. program, students are often able to avoid having to take the dreaded LSAT exam as some law schools may exempt this requirement for transferring students.

However, the most coveted benefit of transferring to the J.D. program from the LL.M. program, is that students who have become J.D. students will be considered for all the ‘perks’ of J.D. student-hood, including participation in recruitment opportunities for summer law associate programs, clerkship opportunities, law review editorships, and much more.

The downside of a transfer, of course, is the time and cost.  While an LL.M. program can be completed in one year – meaning one year’s tuition and housing costs – J.D. programs take three years (this includes the two years of study at J.D. level and the one year of study at LL.M. level).  Thus, transferring from an LL.M. to a J.D. program involves tripling the costs of study and, accordingly, also more time and energy spent.

Transferring from an LL.M. to a J.D. program is handled differently at different law schools.  The University of Virginia, for example, has recently introduced a requirement that LL.M. to J.D. transfer students are required to write the LSAT. UCLA only allows current LL.M. students to transfer to their J.D. program, while Cardozo allows current LL.M. students as well as students who have completed their LL.M. at Cardozo in the past three years to transfer. American University, on the other hand, allows students who have completed an LL.M. at practically any law school in the world to be eligible to transfer to their J.D. program.

In the end, it is a matter of preference and finances whether transferring from the LL.M. to the J.D. program is the right option. Still, for those interested in practicing in the U.S., transferring may be a necessity.  As for example UCLA observes “American employers generally prefer to hire J.D. graduates for traditional American legal practice”. For those hoping to enter traditional American legal practice, transferring to the J.D. program may not be preference, so much as necessity.

 

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Top LLM Personal Statements Revealed

Get our eBook with exclusive LL.M. personal statement samples

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Top Personal Statements for LL.M. Programs, our new eBook, is the only resource on the market that helps you gain insight into the “black box” of the LL.M. admissions process by revealing real examples of winning LL.M. personal statements.

Boost your personal statement writing skills and increase your chances of admission to a top LL.M. program!

  • 10 full-length samples that worked for applicants at elite U.S. and U.K. law schools
  • Covers all major areas of law, including corporate, commercial, human rights, and international law
  • Instant and secure digital download (PDF)