Given the expense and opportunity cost of getting an LLM degree, applicants don’t tend to devote nearly enough attention to selecting the right LLM program for them. Researching this topic yields a massive amount of conflicting information that doesn’t inform the applicant’s decision. The approach to selecting an LLM program should be based on a particular applicant’s personal goals. This LLM guide will attempt to provide simple guidelines for those applying to LLM programs.
- Qualifying to take the bar in the US as a foreign lawyer. There is value in attending a US school for an LLM degree to foreign attorneys interested in taking the bar exam in the US. Go beyond this LLM Guide and ensure that graduates of any LLM programs you are considering are entitled to take the bar in the state in which you would like to be licensed to practice. You can contact the school directly and ask.
- Demonstrating English proficiency and exposure to western culture. Completing any LLM program is effective at showing to potential employers abroad that you have successfully completed a program taught entirely in English and have been exposed to the culture, but keep in mind that actually getting a job in the US will usually require than completing some sort of an LLM program. The name recognition and the specialized nature of the program you complete will generally be key.
- Programs focusing on a specialized area of law. This may seem like an obvious point, but in order to get the benefit of obtaining skills in a particular area, such as corporate law, tax, international law, or human rights, make sure the school has them.
- Western lawyers upgrading their alma mater. Take it from this LLM Guide. If you hold a JD from a US or UK school, simply adding an LLM to your resume is unlikely to significantly improve your employment prospects. For most western lawyers this is simply not a great reason to go through an LLM program. If you do proceed, it only makes sense to apply to the best-recognized schools, ideally with a very specialized program in your field. The one exception to this rule is that attending NYU Law’s tax program is a great boost to any aspiring tax attorney’s career.