find your perfect LLM program
Search our Database of over 2500 Courses

LLM Admissions: How to succeed in the application process

So you want to get into your first choice of law school? Well obviously the first thing you need to do is impress the admissions panel. To help you do just that, we asked admissions experts to tell us exactly what it is the best law schools worldwide are looking for to make an application successful, from crafting the perfect LLM personal statement, to choosing the best referee. This expert advice could be just what you need to ensure you get that vital “Yes” from your chosen law school.

So when it comes to filling in your application form, here are the top tips from those in the know.

Starting with our friends in the USA:

“Applicants should be careful to select a recommender who knows them well and is willing to communicate honestly and candidly with the admissions office. The most helpful recommendations are those that can provide the admission officers with information about a student’s potential for success in graduate study. A recommender is reporting on his or her observations of applicants, and his or her thoughts on their educational or professional development.”

Timothy J Stanne and Kenneth Kleinrock, NYU Law


“You should apply early in the process, because the early birds’ files are likely to get a more thorough reading when there are fewer applications, but only once you have all the ingredients for a strong application in place.” 

Judy Horowitz, Duke University School of Law


“One of the application items that we care most about is an interesting, authentic personal statement, and far too often our LLM candidates fail to appreciate (its) significance.” 

Sarah Zearfoss, University of Michigan Law School


“Applicants should emphasise work experience, it’s the major differentiator among applicants. They should also consider explaining the nature of their undergraduate institution to overcome any unfamiliarity we may have. They can also usefully discuss what they plan to do with their degree once they have it.” 

Don Rebstock, Northwestern University Law School


“CVs should generally be just one page and definitely not more than two pages. Our program emphasises the ability to communicate in a professional, business-like manner, so we hope candidates can express themselves succinctly, cutting to the chase rather than giving us lengthy narratives or superfluous information. 

Don Rebstock, Northwestern University Law School 

admissions tips

And what about our European experts?

“References play a big part in our admissions process and the positive views of a colleague from another university can often be the deciding factor which leads an offer. Because of this it is imperative that the referee really knows the student and can speak knowledgeably about the academic skills which they will be bringing to the programme”

Steve Webley, University of Birmingham


“It sounds obvious, but it is vital that you actually read the question carefully and answer the actual question - do not simply cut and paste a previous personal statement which you think will suffice.”

Angie Raymond, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London


“The letters of recommendation are fundamental to get to know a candidate applying to an LLM programme. Take the time to select your recommender. Find someone that knows you and who is able to describe your strengths and weaknesses. Give enough time for your recommender to write a letter with high-quality content, that mentions your achievements, specific projects and communication skills.”

Cristina Santo, IE Law School


“We take academic excellence as a given, but we are looking for more than that. We are interested in applicants who are committed, motivated and engaged. Tell us about what you would bring to our community of scholars through your previous experience, whether academic or in employment.”

Norma Martin Clement, School of Law, University of Leeds


“Applicants should make sure that they have fully consulted the application guidelines for the specific discipline within the university that they are applying to, as well as checking the generic central application information. Some disciplines have separate specific criteria for applications, and potential students should ensure that they have familiarised themselves with these before submitting their application.”

Anne Michelle Slater, University of Aberdeen


Related articles

LLM Personal Statement: Tips & Strategies

10 Ways To Make Your LLM Application Great

Expert Advice On Writing The Perfect LLM Personal Statement

Law School Admissions

How To Write The Perfect LLM CV

Applying For An LLM Program

6 Simple Steps To LLM Application Success

Global LLM Study Bursaries