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Taking the leap into an LLM programme is never an easy decision. Not only can it be quite expensive, it also means taking another year out of your career to return to university. To help you decide whether or not the LLM is the next step for you, here are a few pointers of what you can expect during that year.
While an undergraduate law degree gives you a very broad taste of what the law entails, undergraduate courses often fail to provide an opportunity to really specialise. This is, of course, a classic reason for undertaking an LLM: honing your abilities into one area of law.
Not only can this help you advance to the next point in your career, regardless of whether you are aiming to enter academia or are complementing the area of law in which you work, but an LLM can also give you the academic knowledge to carve your way into a new area of the law.
Of course, that is not always the case. An LLM can just as well provide you with an open buffet of modules and units to try out. This means you can cover a diverse collection of law areas by undertaking a general LLM. This would be more suited to those of us who are not yet sure of what practice area we would like to venture in, and it is very much the academic parallel of trying out different seats during a Training Contract.
Whether it is having the opportunity to take part in an international moot, like Jessup or the Vis, or joining a law review team, an LLM provides students with the perfect chance to fulfil those goals they might not have checked off during their undergraduate degree.
But don’t forget, LLMs tend to be highly intense, with a lot of material being condensed into less than 12 months, so make sure to set out your aims and hit the ground running.
On a similar note, if you did not do your undergraduate degree in law, then undertaking an LLM can provide you within an insight into the academic side of the law. For example, senior personnel in tech may find that a focus on intellectual property will enrich their career or an LLM in international law may provide an entryway into NGOs or international organisations, like the UN or the EU.
If you feel that your undergraduate degree left you with something to be desired, whether you have your eyes set on a higher ranked university or a better degree classification, securing an LLM from a leading law school might help you bridge the gap between your education and securing a training contract at a leading law firm or a pupillage.
That is not to say that an LLM alone will secure a training contract or a pupillage – it won’t. Neither will it make up for a lack of legal work experience. But what it will do, is strengthen your CV and raise your overall academic ability.
In the modern legal environment, most top law firms pride themselves on their global presence and cutting edge multi-jurisdictional work. Having an educational background from more than one jurisdiction can only be a positive attribute, helping you to work on a global spectrum later on in your career.
Not only that, but an LLM can also give you an opportunity to learn a new language, with many law schools, including LSE and Queen Mary, now providing students with grants to study a foreign language. At the same time, if you do not want to complete your LLM overseas, you can apply for one which incorporates an exchange program.
If nothing else, an LLM is an opportunity to meet new people, try out different cultures and surround yourself with ambitious and talented lawyers.
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