08 September 2016 | Postgrad Advice | Guest Author
An LLM (derived from the Latin Legum Magister ~ Master of Laws) is a specialised postgraduate level qualification in Law. It is globally recognised, meaning graduates can study their course anywhere, and then subsequently move anywhere else to make practical use of the much sought after qualification. Considering that it is a legal course, there are geographical and jurisprudence limitations (Students ought to ensure that they have studied appropriate laws for appropriate areas). An LLM is a gilt edged opportunity in specialisation – e.g. in tax laws, corporate laws and governance, human rights or other discreet areas of knowledge. Generally speaking, the program is undertaken on a full-time basis over the course of a year but there are part-time study and distance learning options available. Bear in mind that in many jurisdictions, lawyers and advocates don't need to have completed an LLM to practice law, nor is an LLM a call to the bar either! However it has many benefits that can benefit a newly qualified advocate or solicitor – here are our top 5 reasons to study an LLM.
A Chance to Specialise
If there is a particular area of law that you wish to focus on – for example intellectual copyright law or human rights laws – then you can major in that area and learn the in depth knowledge necessary to pursuing litigation in that field. The LLM is very beneficial to those interested in pursuing knowledge of relatively obscure national or international laws.
Opportunities in Employment
As stated above, aspiring lawyers do not have to have an LLM to begin a career at the Bar, but without doubt the qualification adds standout qualities to your CV, in particular if an interview affords you the chance to discuss your area of specialty. As well, the LLM broadens your network of contacts, particularly if you opt to study it at at a different law school to your undergraduate program, as you will get the opportunity to meet new faculty members and classmates. A distance learning option will enable you to take the initiative and set up in informal peer assisted study group with other LLM candidates in your area, showing a sense of leadership that can add value to your CV in later years.
Restarting a Career
If you've been unemployed, or you are underemployed and wish to change career tracks or else you wish to brush up your knowledge of modern law, then the LLM is an excellent option. Some employers are willing to sponsor their employees to undertake the program, as part of a continuous professional development (CPD) program. The LLM is an excellent top up for those who wish to learn about modern legal developments, which can help you gain tangible career and knowledge benefits. Many international centres of learning offer scholarship and bursary funding for the LLM program.
The LLM is globally accredited, thus creating chances to move abroad and gain new experience. If you studied global trade treaties and majored in a specific area like human rights or climate treaties then your LLM will be a ticket to work on such projects abroad. If you go on to work in a law practice upon completion of the LLM, the time spent seconded abroad will give you an edge on your colleagues when it comes to promotional opportunities.
A Ticket To Lecturing
Possibly your career lies away from practice and instead in academia. If so, an LLM will provide you with great background knowledge and experience. A specialisation will increase your chances of academic employment, and an LLM program is an ideal springboard for detailed research papers.
To sum up, if you choose to go down the LLM program route, you will not regret it.