Posted Nov. 1, 2021
In recent years, more and more people have been going back to university to study at postgraduate level and broaden their academic horizons.
This has led to a rise in demand for Master of Laws and other postgraduate degrees that focus on legal topics. If you’re thinking about going into law or want a career change, then an LLM may be right for you! So let’s take a look at nine reasons why an LLM degree could be just what you need to take your career to the next level.
9 reasons to study an LLM
1. Expand your legal knowledge
LLM programs are a great way to further your knowledge of the law without spending three years on your studies. Depending on which country you decide to study in, you may be able to specialise in a particular area that interests you, such as international trade, sports law or public health. You will also learn from lectures and tutorials with students who share your passion for the law.
2. Gain a competitive edge
If you're looking for an advantage in today's highly competitive job market, then an LLM can give you exactly what you need. Graduates from top universities typically have an easier and more successful time breaking into the legal profession, and many will go on to find work in prestigious law firms or corporations. The right postgraduate degree can make it much easier to take the next step in your legal career.
3. Additional qualification on your CV
LLMs are a great way to gain an extra qualification on your CV without adding too much time to your working schedule. If you already have a first degree, then an LLM is a relatively quick and simple way to open up new career opportunities. An LLM is essentially another degree, and employers like to see that you are committed enough to do your course. The qualification will also demonstrate that you are passionate about the law, and can be particulalry useful if you choose an LLM in a specialised field
4. Gain international experience
An LLM gives you the chance to study abroad and get some valuable international work experience under your belt. Studying in a different country can be very helpful if you want to move up the career ladder or are particularly passionate about the law outside of your native country.
5. Rewarding course
Remember, if you have a passion for law and legal issues, this course will be rewarding no matter what. LLM courses provide students with the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about their chosen field as well as improving your chances of employment after graduation. If you're passionate about the law, then it's worth doing an LLM!
6. International job opportunities
LLMs are recognised worldwide, and this means that you can use your qualification in any country. If you plan on traveling abroad for work, then an LLM will be beneficial to you. Many graduates go on to work in prestigious law firms or corporations worldwide, and many of these companies actively look for applicants with LLM qualifications. Keep this in mind if you want to make the most of your postgraduate study.
7. Better understanding of legal systems
It's essential to understand the legal field if you want to work in law or have any interaction with it at all. For this reason, it is a good idea to complete an LLM so that you gain a more comprehensive knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. You should also gain valuable insight into legal terminology, which could come in useful if you want to work as a translator or offer other language services to law firms. An LLM is an excellent way to gain valuable knowledge about the law and a particular legal system.
8. Networking opportunities
LLM programs provide graduates with the chance to network and make contacts in a chosen area of law. This is particularly beneficial for people who want to go into business or start their own legal firm. Knowing people in your field can be crucial if you're looking to get ahead, build a reputation and find work.
9. New communication skills
Successful lawyers need to have the ability to communicate well, and an LLM is a great way to improve your soft skills. You will learn how to write reports quickly and efficiently, as well as improve your oral presentation skills. This can be a valuable tool in your career going forward and it is one of the most popular reasons to get an LLM degree.
The 3 big ‘S’s
Once you’ve identified your reasons for studying an LLM and looked at how it can boost your career – it’s time to think about the three big ‘S’s – skills, salary and satisfaction.
Skills – you will acquire different types of skills on your LLM. If you are transitioning to law and using an LLM as the medium, then it is the right time to focus on your transferable skills, which can become the highlight of your CV when you graduate. Employers tend to give consideration to subject knowledge, awareness of current affairs and your confidence in managing problems. Some of the key skills and abilities that are sought after: critical thinking; presentation skills; research methodology; organisational skills; problem solving; time management; confidence; and motivation.
Salary – good salary could be the reason that started you chasing this dream – and an LLM could help you secure a higher salary. However, others may achieve their career satisfaction working in the public sector or charities, where salary may not be the driving force. Whichever job you settle down into, an LLM can provide you with an opportunity for career progression depending on how you utilise it to get the job. Based on the role that you apply for after your LLM study, the employer may reward you with a proportionate share of remuneration and opportunity.
Satisfaction: to be happy in life you should ideally aim for a career path that can bring you reasonable amount of satisfaction. By not losing sight of your goals and working hard you can still inch closer to the job that you have been envisaging for yourself. It is essential to study the legal market before choosing your specialisation. There is no point in blindly sitting on a popular course when you don’t have any interest in the subject. You must feel passionate about the topic that will enable you to chart a career going forward.
What do employers think of an LLM qualification?
A Master of Laws is undoubtedly an impressive achievement as it is a major piece of research and study. But the answer to what employers thing of the qualification depends on quite a few different factors.
1. Where do you want to work?
Some areas of the law take an LLM more seriously than other areas. For example, if you want to work for NGOs or the UN, then undertaking an LLM in Human Rights Law is a great way to move into these areas. Whereas in other fields of law it might be a good idea to gain some experience in these fields, for example, building contacts and undertaking work experience is vitally important in areas such as Corporate or Financial Law and this is often done through meeting people and networking while you work. But you will get the opportunity to network on your LLM program, too. Speak to people who already work in the area you want to move into to see if they think an LLM would be the good move.
2. What type of legal career do you want?
There are some legal careers where an LLM is definitely a useful addition to your CV. Those law students who think they might want to become barristers will discover that an LLM is a good route to success. LLMs in International Law are an excellent option for those who wish to join international legal organisations, such as the European Court of Human Rights. An LLM is also a good route for any student wishing to pursue an academic career in the law or who thinks they might one day want to be a judge.
3. Where are you in your career?
For some law students who have left law school with excellent grades, an LLM at a highly respected law school will give them contacts and an extensive professional network that will help throughout their careers. Bear in mind that it might help you to work for a few years gaining valuable experience before starting an LLM, in fact LLM programs are popular with mature students. Many lawyers undertake an LLM later in their careers, and classes can have a high proportion of students who have a significant understanding of the law already. This means they will set the standard of discussion and criticism in the class, and you will need to keep up.
4. Do you want to be a lawyer?
LLMs aren't just for lawyers, for many people who work within the law or have a large amount of legal work in their careers, an LLM is a handy qualification to have. If you're not a lawyer but a medical professional or working in human resources, then an LLM in the right area of the law will improve your understanding of the legal implications of your work. LLM students learn many valuable skills that are highly prized by employers.
5 skills for a successful law career
If you do want to become a lawyer, here are the five skills you’re definitely going to need.
People skills – being a lawyer involves working with people and in some areas of the law, this is even more important. For example, Family Law or Child Protection Law will involve the intimate details of other peoples’ lives and you'll spend a great deal of time listening to your clients. Spending time networking while you are at law school and participating in the extracurricular activities and societies that every law schools has, will help with your people skills.
Communication skills – communicating your message efficiently and effectively and leaving no room for misunderstandings is an important part of a successful law career. Many lawyers will need to make themselves understood in the courtroom and in writing either emails, letters or even more formally in contracts. Communication skills also involve interpreting what people are trying to explain to you, so understanding people's body language and cultural differences are both important parts of communication. Studying internationally will help with communication skills, especially if you master another language.
Attention to detail – you will need to be able to see all the little details in a contract and understand how this might impact your client or employer. It's basically what they are paying you for, to help them avoid any nasty legal surprises lurking in the depths of the paperwork. Keeping on topic and not getting distracted easily are all part of this necessary skill set.
Self-confidence – you might be advising clients on huge business deals or life-changing contracts, so you've got to be confident in what you are saying. Self-confidence is a skill that some people seem to have naturally, but don't be disheartened, as it is also a skill that you can learn. Having a thorough understanding of the topic you are discussing or working in will help build your self-confidence, so advanced study at the masters or LLM level will help your self-confidence grow.
Research skills – a big part of any legal career is research, and you'll gain plenty of research skills while you are studying your LLM or any other postgraduate study. In your early days in law researching might be a huge part of your day-to-day work after you graduate and all law firms are expecting recent graduates to have excellent research skills. Most LLM courses have a module involving Legal Writing and Research Skills to make sure your research skills are as good as they can be when you graduate.
Career paths for LLM graduates that aren’t in law
However, studying an LLM program is not just for those who are interested in a career in law – depending on what specialism you opt for there is a whole wealth of other career opportunities open to you.
Finance – plenty of law students head off to work in finance and investing, and if you’ve completed an LLM in Financial Law, you’ll be in an excellent position to work in finance in a non-legal role. A good understanding of finance law or accounting law will help if you are working in a small business or in any capacity that involves money.
Conflict resolution – you don’t have to be a qualified lawyer to work in conflict resolution and if you have studied an LLM in Conflict Resolution or an LLM in Dispute Resolution you will have some excellent and useful knowledge. Many organisations and businesses employ people who are experts in resolving conflicts between their employees and those with an LLM have the transferable skills to excel at this as well as the counselling skills.
Entrepreneurship – many law schools work closely with their local business school – just like the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton Business School – which is ideal for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs. If you fancy starting up your own company or enterprise, you should undertake an LLM at a law school that has a good relationship with their local business school. An understanding of corporate law and finance law will help you immensely if you are setting up a business.
Journalism – researching and reporting into legal issues and legal news is a good move for an LLM graduate. If you have a good understanding of the processes in a law court, then you are much better placed to work as a journalist in this area. There are also lots of legal publications and websites that require writers and editors who have a good understanding of the law.
Academia – there are LLM courses, especially in the US, that are directly aimed at those who wish to move into the academic study of the law or for students who specialised in jurisprudence, a move into academia might be an excellent career path. LLM courses all require academic staff to teach students and research the implications of new laws and rulings.
Government and politics – lots of politicians have studied the law, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to name but two, and those in government require people around them that understand the implications of changes to the law. International charities, not-for-profits and NGOs all need talented people who have studied and understood the impact of legal changes and the legal issues they create on a global and national basis.
Get careers advice
Still unsure of your career options? Go see your careers advisor. It's always worth visiting a careers adviser as they spend their working lives evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of people and helping them find a career path that works to their strengths. Even if you have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, a careers adviser can help point out pitfalls as well as highlighting paths that you might not have considered yet.
Going to a careers adviser can let you take a step back and evaluate properly where your strengths and weaknesses are. A good careers adviser will assess the information you give them, including academic successes and failures as well as previous employment details, then demonstrate where you should be aiming in terms of progression in your life.
Search LLM courses
Interested studying an LLM program? Find out more and search available courses with LLMstudy.com. You'll find a range of options, from full-time, online and part-time courses.
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