Posted Feb. 8, 2016
It is common knowledge that studying law in the US is quite different from studying law elsewhere in the world. Given its ‘Socratic’ method of teaching style where academic faculty in law schools invite students to participate through discussions and asking questions, there is plenty of student participation leading to an enriching LLM experience. Imagine all this in the process of gaining a basic knowledge of the US legal system, and at the same time having the opportunity to develop special expertise in a particular area of law. These things combine to make the US a great place to study your LLM program. But what specialisations are available? And what ones are the most popular? Here we take a look at some of the LLM specialisations available in the USA.
POPULARITY AND AVAILABILITY OF LLM SPECIALISATIONS
There are many LLM specialisations offered in the US and these continue to attract eager students each year. Certain LLM courses that are offered by the top US universities are popular on account of several factors including historical reasons, recognised personalities having studied there, top-notch academia, league table rankings, etc. giving it world-wide recognition. Rankings also play a part, and while some of you may know latest law school rankings, but how far do you investigate into what actually makes these colleges and LLM programs stand out from others? By organising important events relevant to specialist areas in the industry and collaborating with law firms and companies on bringing key legal discussions to these forums, US universities are in a position to demand widespread popularity and recognition for their LLM programs. This has led to a boost in attracting more and more students each year. Some of the topics that are highly popular in such universities include:
• Intellectual Property
• International business
• Banking & finance
• Human Rights
APPLYING AND SHARING KNOWLEDGE
Each year several foreign lawyers and fresh law graduates aim to do an LLM program from the USA. Given the high level of competition, many students study an LLM so they can go back to their home countries and apply the knowledge in their own areas. This could mean advising governments, NGOs or companies or acting as legal representatives. Their home countries could use the help of lawyers trained in legal issues in private international law or commercial disputes, for instance that involve complex cross-border themes and therefore doing an LLM in the US could prove useful.
Students aiming to benefit from the knowledge and shared experience from LLM courses are attracted by the universality of the topics and their relevance to disputes that can be local to their home countries.
Some of these topics include:
• International trade law
• International arbitration
• Public international law
• Maritime law
LLM POPULARITY BASED ON LOCAL DEMAND AND RECOGNITION
There are specialisations that may be popular within a particular region owing to the need to promote certain types of courses that meet the needs of local industry or marketplace. For example, courses such as Banking & finance law, Commercial arbitration and Taxation Law are highly popular in financial landmarks including New York City and Washington DC. The advantage of studying such specialised LLM programs could mean exposure to local law firms or corporate houses that could open up summer internship opportunities or long-term career placements to students from such colleges. Check with colleges on what arrangements they have with law firms or in general organizations in offering internship programs. Moreover, guest or visiting staff could be renowned lawyers or corporate counsels who could throw valuable light on potential career opportunities within the city where the law school is situated. You could also attend conferences or events hosted in the region that touch upon these specialist areas. Therefore it would be a good idea to take advantage of these facilities while you study your LLM.
LLM POPULARITY BASED ON FOCUS AREAS
There are several focus areas in law that are promoted by colleges specialising in them mostly because they have the right amount of resources or are able to collaborate with research centres or government in driving attention to specific issues. These may include environment law or technology law. Recurring issues may demand more legal or policy research into specific areas of law including energy or resources law. Some of the sought-after specialisations offered by US universities include:
• Air & space law
• Technology & law
• Environmental & natural resources law
By choosing to do a General LLM in the US, you will be in a position to tailor your course around your career interests. You can choose from the wide range of courses made available by the college and decide on a combination of courses that would work best for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with academic staff and alumni students on course selection queries because the right LLM course from a law college of your liking will give you the impetus to chase your educational goals. Plus, some law schools offer LLM programs that are designed to introduce foreign-trained law graduates to the legal system of the United States.
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