An LLM, or Master of Laws, is a degree awarded to those already holding a professional law degree, who have completed advanced education and research in a particular area of law. Lawyers may choose to pursue LLM programs to gain expertise in a specific sector, for career advancement, and to build a professional network.
Some examples of LLM programs are in law sectors such as information technology, tax law, financial services, international law, environmental law, and commercial law. Some universities also allow students to develop their own specialized LLM programs specific to their professional interests. LLM programs generally take a minimum of one year to complete and while some programs consist primarily of research, others also require coursework. Students of LLM programs can be expected to complete a thesis to be awarded the degree.
The variety of different LLM programs can be overwhelming - don't let it stop you! Start your search by looking at the most popular LLM programs listed below.
In order to practice law in the United States and many countries in Europe, you must complete an law degree and pass a series of tests, often called the bar exam, to prove your understanding of the legal field. Those students who want to take their training further have the option to pursue postgraduate programs after fulfilling these basic requirements. One of these is the LLM, a common program for students interested in practicing internationally. If you are considering an LLM, learning more about the degree will help you determine if it is a good fit for your goals.
LLM stands for the Master of Laws degree. This postgraduate law degree is often chosen by law students who wish to pursue further training in one specific field of law, such as Intellectual Property law or Banking law.
The LLM degree is internationally recognized. It, by itself, does not qualify a student to practice law in most countries. Rather, it is used in addition to the Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor law degree. In order to practice law, a student must first get this professional degree and pass the bar exam or equivalent test. The LLM simply adds further qualifications to the student's already existing qualifications.
While LLM programs are internationally recognized, they are not universally defined. This means that a LLM degree at a school in the United States may cover different topics than one at a school in the UK. Often, the topics covered include teaching foreign lawyers the basics of the law practice in that specific country.
An LLM degree is not required for entrance into work as a lawyer, but many firms prefer to work with students who have attained this degree. Not only does it indicate that the student has received specialized training, but it also shows that the student is dedicated to the legal profession and willing to go above and beyond to improve his or her training.
As with most postgraduate work, an LLM degree often improves the lawyer's earning potential. Some lawyers have seen a salary bump of around seven percent after attaining an LLM. This is not a guarantee, as each employer will have their own rules about pay increases with postgraduate work, but pay increases are common.
As internationally recognized degrees, LLM programs qualify lawyers to work in multinational settings. Firms who regularly work with international cases can benefit from hiring lawyers with an LLM, and this can increase the job opportunities for graduates. Since the world is becoming increasingly small, the demand for lawyers who can work internationally is growing quickly, and an LLM helps fill that need.
Lawyers who are planning to move to a new country can use an LLM to qualify them to practice law in their new location. The regulations surrounding this vary tremendously, but in some areas an international law degree and the right LLM program are all that is necessary to qualify a lawyer to take the bar exam and practice law in a new country. Sometimes, the lawyer will have to take the full training program before applying to take the bar examination.
These are some of the more obvious benefits of taking an LLM. Another benefit, and one that causes many to pursue the LLM in the first place, is the opportunity to expand your professional network in a specific area of law. The people you meet in the classroom, including both the teachers and the students, can serve as valuable network contacts in the future after completing your degree.
Stating a cost for an LLM is difficult because every university has its own structure. Not only that, but the cost is going to vary from one country to the next, and it will vary depending on whether the student enrolls in a full-time program or a part-time program. In the United States, an LLM degree can cost between $30,000 and $50,000 for just the tuition. Adding other costs, a student should prepare to pay between $70,000 and $80,000 for an LLM. While this may seem like a high cost, you should not let it deter you from pursing this degree. Scholarships and loan opportunities can help make the LLM quite affordable.
If you are considering taking an LLM program, understanding the basic requirements will help you make an informed decision. Most programs require students to have first obtained a degree in law. If the program you have chosen does not have this requirement, it will require an undergraduate degree in a related field. These programs are often research based and require little time in the classroom, although classroom time is not unheard of. Most LLM programs will require the student to write a thesis to show what was learned in the program.
Historically, the LLM was offered in English-speaking countries primarily, as these were the markets that worked with the Bachelor's and Master's degree designations. However, it has since spread into several European and Asian countries, with some countries, like Finland, actually requiring the LLM as the entry-level degree to practice law.
If you are interested in taking an LLM program, you will need to decide which country is the best one for you. LLM programs can be found throughout the United States and the UK. Canada, many European countries and several countries in Asia also offer LLM programs. Students typically take an LLM in the country where they live or the country where they would like to work. Keep in mind that the classes may be taught in the native language of that country.
LLM programs are available in many areas of law. The Tax LLM and International Law LLM degrees are some of the most popular. Other options include human rights, intellectual property, maritime, business, banking, health, finance and international tax. Corporate finance and real estate are also sometimes chosen as an LLM specialization.
For lawyers who are interested in maximizing their earning potential while opening the door to international opportunities, taking an LLM makes sense. By finding the right program, these lawyers can improve their financial situation and their job prospects in as little as one year.