Useful clubs and associations for LLM (Master of Laws) students
Law is not a solitary profession; unlike writers and artists you won’t get much done if you shut yourself off from the rest of the world! Because the social and professional interactions that will fuel your legal career start in the early stages of academic training and continue after graduation, we’ve drawn up a list of some associations you might find useful during your LLM program and beyond. Joining them could help improve your legal skills or enhance your CV as well as provide networking opportunities and global connections. Some associations are viewed as prestigious and could impress potential employers, particularly if you played an active leadership role within the association.
Improving Your Legal Skills while studying
Mooting: Mooting involves arguing a fictional case, against an opposing team, in front of a judge (or a legal academic playing the role of a judge.) Mooting improves your skills in advocacy, legal research, analysis, interpretation, argument and presentation and can be very useful particularly if you’re a non-law graduate who is converting to law and thus did not take part in mooting as an undergrad. Practically every university offering law degrees has a mooting team or club so there’s no excuse for you not to join them and become an expert in mooting!
Toastmaster Clubs: Skilful legal advocacy requires the confidence to speak authoritatively in public and unfortunately this isn’t always something that comes naturally. Toastmaster International is a global organisation with club branches in nearly every country, set up to help its members get rid of stage fright and develop confident, assertive public speaking and communication skills. Members meet regularly and hone their skills in delivering presentations and speeches through practical workshops. Information on local Toastmaster clubs can be found online and there might even be a club in your university. If there isn’t one, perhaps you could set one up!
Networking & Enhancing Your CV
Student Law Societies: Being a member of your school’s law society is part of demonstrating an interest in, and commitment to, law. Run by students, your institution’s law society will organise a wide range of social and professional activities, from parties and sporting events to careers events, law fairs, seminars with guest speakers and visits to legal institutions. Mooting is usually coordinated by the student-run law societies (in collaboration with university staff), and some law societies even organise pro-bono opportunities that will provide the essential work experience you need on your CV.
Law Journal Editorial Committee: Playing a role in the planning and publishing of a legal journal will be a good boost to your CV, again demonstrating a commitment to the profession. However if you can’t find the time to be an active member of the editorial committee, getting an article published will also be viewed favourably by employers as it indicates a willingness to engage in scholarly research and discourse about law reform.
Other useful student associations to join: The International Law Students Association (ILSA), the European Law Students Association (ELSA).
Global connections after you graduate
International Associations: While national associations provide valuable focus on issues relevant to your legal jurisdiction, the frequency of inter-jurisdictional transactions these days calls for up-to-date understanding of how things are done further afield. Having a network of legal professionals to call on in other countries will be a definite advantage. There are international associations for general legal practice, for instance the International Bar Association, which has law societies and individual lawyers (barristers and solicitors) as members. There are also international associations for specific practice areas, from intellectual property law to media law or sports law. We’ve provided a few examples below but it could be helpful to do a bit more research on international organisations set up for your area of law:
Centre for International Environmental Law, European Communities Trade Mark Association, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, International Association of Constitutional Law, International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, International Association of Sports Law, International Tax Planning Association, International Technology Law Association, International Trade Mark Association, Pan-European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Niche associations: These associations were set up for select groups of lawyers with a common background, history or purpose to have greater influence on the profession, for instance the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Criminal Bar Association of England & Wales, the Muslim Lawyers Guild or the International Federation of Women Lawyers. In some cases these niche associations are a sub-group of larger organisations. Niche associations tend to be smaller than the general associations and thus present more of an opportunity to meet and get to know senior professionals. Securing a mentor within a smaller niche association of a few hundred or thousand members could also be a lot easier than within an organisation with tens of thousands of members.
Non negotiable associations: Certain associations are non-negotiable; for instance in the US, qualified lawyers must be members of the American Bar Association. In the UK, the Law Society and the Law Society of Scotland provide representation, accreditation and training for solicitors in England & Wales and Scotland respectively, while the Bar Council and the Faculty of Advocates do the same for barristers in England & Wales and in Scotland. With these sorts of associations, membership is not viewed as optional and so it would be more a case of ensuring you keep your membership up-to-date and pay your membership dues promptly!
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