An LLM in Taxation Law is an advanced law degree that typically takes one year to complete, although many law schools now provide the flexibility of a part-time graduate program that would take two years. Part-time programs allow employed individuals to continue to work while obtaining the degree, and in some cases the employer may fund the academic fees and permit time off work to study and attend classes.
LLM in Taxation Law programs are proliferating throughout the world and are beginning to include online programs from reputable law schools in the USA such as NYU and Georgetown. Some LLM Taxation Law programs involve only course work, whereas others are oriented to research and require a thesis to complete the degree. Programs that require a thesis may take longer to complete.
The categories of taxation law generally available in an LLM program are: general tax practice; corporate taxation; international taxation; pass-through entities; tax controversies and procedures; employee benefits; estate and succession planning; tax-exempt organisations; tax policy; intellectual property; and local tax laws.
The choice of specific elective courses depends on whether or not specialisation is ultimately going to prove beneficial. An experienced law practitioner may wish to acquire an in-depth knowledge of a particular field whereas a recent graduate without a position may want to widen the horizon with a more generalized degree.
Most individuals graduating with an LLM in Taxation Law will find career opportunities in private practice law firms. Public accounting firms and government or judicial clerkships in tax courts also absorb recent graduates. Depending on the pre-law academic background, specialised in-house positions are available in large corporations, management consulting firms, and investment banking. With more people chasing fewer positions, it is best for recent graduates to broaden their horizons geographically and include a range of topics in the degree. Good choices for specific topics include international tax law and controversy tax, but this will vary with the market. The prestige of the law school will always make a difference in employment opportunities. However, if a person has good local job prospects, then an LLM from a regional law school is a cost-effective option.
Mid-career law practitioners wishing to make a lateral move from a litigation practice to a tax practice, or to transition to another kind of employer, such as law firm to an in-house tax specialist, can benefit from an LLM in Taxation Law. Other advantages of a Tax LLM are greater opportunities for promotion and enhanced work skills.
Even if the intention is not to practice law, there are other sound reasons for considering an LLM in Taxation. For example, an overview of international tax laws will enhance the résumé of an international business administrator or accountant. Another reason for considering a generalised LLM in Taxation Law is if the individual wishes to enter academia in a teaching or research capacity.
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