Researching Your LLM Options in the United States
For US students hoping to achieve an LLM qualification at home, or international law students with a wish to study abroad, the chance to graduate from a top US law school is highly coveted. The courses are well managed, the universities have an international reputation and graduates command a very attractive starting salary. As you'd expect, getting a place on an LLM program at a US law school isn't easy, this is a competitive environment where expectations are high and the financial demands can be draining.
However, it is certainly not impossible if you are prepared to search for the right program. There are many helpful online resources, like The Princeton Review, the LLM Guide, or the Law Schools Admission Council, which all hold program details. Or you could look at individual law school websites to find out more about what courses they offer.
Common LLM Specialisations In The USA
Here are the most common areas of LLM specialisation that are available for study in the US, each title covers many subtopics.
International Human Rights Law
As future human rights lawyers, students on this LLM program will focus on understanding how human rights are defined in the eyes of the law, and overseen on a global stage. The course will touch on the implications of war and humanitarian work, taking into account the historical development of both.
International Business Law
This program is designed for graduates who wish to carve out a career in the legal side of international commerce. It covers a range of legislations, but also elaborates upon the responsibilities a lawyer has in relation to the communities they deal with, and their own clients. Students will be trained in international financial law, foreign investment in developing countries, multinational enterprises and international business transactions.
International Commercial Arbitration
This field of study equips lawyers to deal with the contracts, negotiations and possible responses they may encounter in commercial arbitration. Students will become confident in the role they play at an arbitration meeting, and the ways in which arbitral awards are enforced.
Graduates who choose to take an LLM degree in International Organisations will become proficient in the legislative processes of international and regional organisations. The curriculum will also provide insight into the alliance between member states and international organisations, like the United Nations, the World Bank Group and the European Union.
International Environmental Law
Students who enrol on the International Environmental Law LLM will be introduced to the legal side of sustainable development. They will examine the role of the people on the front line of environmental policy making, and those who deal with implementing it. A major aspect of this course is exploring the ways in which legal strategies are relevant to global environmental issues.
International and Comparative Protection of Intellectual Property
Dealing with patents, copyrights and trademarks in the technological age is extremely complex, students will find out the ways in which conflicts arise and how they can be settled legally. The program also covers the issue of intellectual property rights and how these are affected by international trade law.
Gender and the Law
For law students who wish to specialise in gender, this course is the ideal start point, incorporating many fundamental legal issues. Programs will look at domestic and international policies toward gender, taking a comparative approach. There will also be a chance to consider the way in which gender plays a part in how legal structures operate throughout the world.
Free Trade Agreements and Regional Integration
Specialising in trade teaches lawyers about the ways in which international agreements are drafted, negotiated and implemented. Over the course of each semester students will be trained to understand the rationalisations, structures and processes which lie behind trade agreements and become involved in practical exercises whilst doing so. Tutors will touch upon case studies as a way of exploring the issues that affect all regional agreements.
Which mode of study suits you?
Once you have settled on a program, you can choose to take an LLM degree in three different ways, depending on what fits in with your personal circumstances – these being full time, part time or online.
On a full-time LLM, students take around two semesters (one academic year) to complete the course, this is the most popular option with international students. It provides a faster, potentially more economical way for law graduates to take an LLM and move on to the next stage in their career.
Alternatively, a part-time course may be less demanding. They are usually taken over two or three years and many universities offer evening classes on these programs. They are more appropriate for graduates who have other commitments, like a full-time job or a family.
Finally, there are distance learning LLM programs that can be taken online from anywhere in the world. These flexible courses have many interactive elements like videos, discussion boards and email communications. Students who study online have up to five years to complete the LLM degree.