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How to apply to a US law school to study your LLM program
Once you have done the necessary research and decided which US law school program to apply for, there’s nothing stopping you from making it happen! The application process is not easy for any prospective student, but with enough forward planning, research and organisation, it will become far more manageable.
Have each component prepared on time
Entry forms can be long and complex, but they don’t get any less so if left until the last minute. The process should ideally be spread out over 18 months – the start time will depend on the application deadline of each university. Check on their individual websites for dates, as there is no standard time frame. The application material can seem convoluted and involves a number of different elements. Once you have tackled the written part, you will need to ensure your academic transcripts and letters of recommendation are requested in plenty of time. If English is not your first language, there will usually be a proficiency test to prepare for – check with your chosen law school which tests they accept as proof of language proficiency.
State your case confidently
Universities are looking for evidence that you deserve a place on their program, so tell them why you should be there. Demonstrate that you have done your research by explaining what it is about their particular LLM program that you like. For example you could point to the university's known areas of expertise or name tutors whose work has inspired you.
Getting your Personal Statement right
Although your previous work experience and academic grades are important to any LLM application, the Personal Statement remains a key component. It is your chance to shine as an individual and ensure you stand out amongst the sea of other applicants. Always tailor a Personal Statement to the school it will be sent to, generic text will not impress admissions staff or tutors. Take the opportunity to explain why law is so important to you and why an LLM degree is a vital next step – elaborate on how the qualification will help you reach your goals, for example. Avoid simply rewriting the information from your CV, instead talk about how your experiences have influenced you, the challenges you've faced and what you have learnt. And if you are international student explain why it’s important to you to come to the US to study your Master of Laws.
Don’t be afraid to market yourself
You won’t be the only applicant with notable grades and a solid work history, so the law school you apply to will also be looking for evidence of personal achievements. Point out which pursuits and interests you have been involved with for some time, or have taken to a higher level by obtaining specialist qualifications or certification. Are there any sports you excel in, or do you have a passion for dance, music or art? Mention any second languages you have and briefly explain how you came to be bi-lingual. Whilst no one wants to be seen as bragging, self-promotion is vital in a competitive situation, so mention prizes or competitions where you triumphed and give details of any community projects you are involved with. This information pads out your more official image and completes you as a person in the eyes of a US law school.
Pick the right referees
The right referees are integral to your application, so select them wisely. Start early so you can be sure of getting this part of your application form properly prepared. Choose individuals who genuinely know you well, but are not friends or relations. They could be past tutors who you had a great connection with, or previous employers who really valued your contribution. Put together a short list of around five people who you think could provide a good reference and then begin approaching them. If two or three people cannot help or are unwilling to for some reason, there are always others to fall back on. Once they’ve agreed you could offer to explain exactly what’s required, like using headed notepaper, the submission date and the best format. Many people have a personal email address, which could be informal and funny, and a professional one – always tell them to use the latter on your reference.
Be prepared for the interview
Although not all law schools in the US interview every applicant, those that do will expect you to be prepared. Ready yourself by going over every aspect of your CV and application form, as the interviewer will use these as the basis for their questions. No doubt they will expect you to address areas of weakness, like career breaks or low grades, so have some answers up your sleeve in case they are needed. There is no reason to feel defensive or insecure, just maintain an open attitude and give brief answers. Other than that, expect the usual ‘tell me about yourself’ and ‘why did you choose law’ lines of questioning, so once again, have considered, appropriate, answers ready.
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