A Master of Laws is undoubtedly an impressive qualification to gain.
It is a major piece of research and study, which combined with the cost of tuition fees and a minimum of a year spent studying, is a huge investment.
But one important question to ask is ‘What do employers think of an LLM?’ Well, the answer to this depends on quite a few different factors.
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 a well-respected 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 is vitally important in areas such as Corporate or Financial Law and this is often done through meeting people and networking while you work. However, 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 an LLM would be the good move.
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 a 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.
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.
Do you want to be a lawyer?
Of course, LLMs aren't just for lawyers. 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.
How much do you want to earn?
It’s true to say that studying an LLM can be helpful for many relevant careers, particularly those who want to be a solicitor. This table illustrates the expected salaries of solicitors in the UK by area of law.