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What Is An LLM Student? A Definition

What is an LLM student?LLM students have a fairly unique set of circumstances and are often highly motivated and career focused.

Definition of an LLM student

Here's a handy definition of what an LLM student actually is. 

They’ve probably studied law already

This might sound a bit obvious, but almost all LLM students will have an undergraduate degree in the law already. It's usually a requirement for getting onto an LLM course in the first place, but not always. It's often the case that they've also already got some further postgraduate training to begin the process of becoming a practising lawyer, solicitor or barrister depending on which country they are studying in. 

They've often got work experience under their belts

It's pretty common for LLM students to be undertaking the LLM course because they want to specialise in an area of the law that they find interesting. The only way to find out which area of the law you might enjoy studying further is to work in it. So, most LLM students will have either done extensive work experience and placements before settling into one specialism, or they will have already worked as a lawyer or in that particular area of the law in another capacity. 


They work really hard

A large number of LLM courses are studied full time in one year, and this makes them an intensive course to undertake and students have to work hard to achieve LLM success. Even the part-time courses take two years to complete and that is on top of any other employment the student is doing at the same time. An LLM student isn't going to have much spare time outside of working on essays and revision and will need the support of their friends and family for just a short year or two. They will also need a sympathetic ear as they will be working hard to take the next step in their careers and they will need support to ensure they maintain good mental health and wellbeing

Students with a plan

Since an LLM usually involves an element of focusing and specialising career plans, most LLM students are studying with a purpose. They will have a specific area they want to work in and maybe even have a handful of law firms in mind for when they graduate. So all this hard work is for a purpose and this makes an LLM student particularity focused on their studies. 

What about when they're not studying

Outside of their studies, for example at the weekends and during the university holidays (or when they are procrastinating), Master of Laws students can often be found networking like mad to take advantage of the year they are spending in a law school with all the connections and benefits that association with the university's law professors brings. They also might be working part time, maybe in a lawyer’s office as a legal secretary or maybe in a local bar to pay for their studies. If they're not working in paid employment, then you can be sure they are hunting down internships and work experience to build their CVs for that perfect graduation job. To put it simply, they are great at balancing their LLM studies with other elements of their lives. 

Searching for funding

Since plenty of LLM students might already be working as lawyers, many of them will have some unique funding sources. Some will have their fees paid for by their employers or by the money they have saved up. Others will have loans and other student grants from more traditional sources to pay for their studies.

LLM students are a little unique in the world of postgraduate study as many of them are specialising and focusing on careers that have already begun. Many LLM students work long hours both in the office and then in the library but that's because they have a goal in mind that is just within reach. So if you're going to be an LLM student, what sort of LLM student are you going to be?

How to become an LLM student

Here are the simple steps to becoming an LLM student

1. Choose your course

First, you need to be sure that an LLM is the right choice for you. Speak to colleagues or with any contacts you have in the area of the law. You'll want to be sure that the course you choose is well respected within the legal community. It's best to have some idea of what your future will hold after you've completed the LLM, so find out about future salary expectations, where the jobs are and what other skills or traits that are useful in the career you have planned.

2. Choose your law school

If you are going to continue working while you study, then you might want to pick an online or part-time LLM course. For students who are just beginning their legal careers, you'll want to choose a law school that is geographically located where you want to be practising. This may be because of the precise nature of the law that you want to practise and to benefit from the links to the local legal community, which will make finding that first job a little easier.

3. Ace your application

Most law schools now have a completely online application, and many interviews are no longer held in-person, but online. Get someone you trust to read through your personal statement before you send it in and explain any gaps in your education or professional history.

Top 5 tips for settling in as a new LLM student

Here are five ways to jump start that settling in process and be ready to begin your new life as an LLM student.

1. Deal with funding and official matters early

Sort out all your funding issues early on and have as much as you can ready before you arrive on campus. This will let you concentrate on meeting people and studying rather than worrying about budgets and finance. Most law schools have some scholarships, grants and bursaries available for LLM students, but applications are usually fiercely competitive so get your forms filled in as early as possible. has Global LLM Study Bursaries worth £500 towards the tuition fees of any LLM program worldwide – find out more here. Don't forget about important things like insurance and warranties if you've bought new laptops or other expensive items. Long before you arrive at your new law school, you will want to ensure that your visas and health insurances are all in order if you are travelling abroad.

2. Join clubs and law societies

Your university or law school's students’ union will be brimming with clubs and societies to join, and these are great places to meet people who are studying on your course, as well as those who aren’t. You will also find that most LLM courses will have a corresponding LLM Law Society that is separate from other law societies in the law school. Join all and any societies and clubs that interest you, as it's a vital part of gaining experience and possible networking for your future career.

3. Get ahead with your LLM reading list

Before you start your course try and spend some time reading up about and around your subject and getting ahead with your reading list. This will allow you a little breathing space when you start, and you'll be able to go on a night out without feeling guilty.

4. Meet other LLM students ahead of the first day

Spend a bit of time checking out your law department and law societies' social media pages along with the students’ union and your institution’s social media. By knowing a few students in advance you'll be able to quickly establish a network of friends and you can get down to the serious business of your LLM. If you're an international student, you could seek out your institution’ international office and see what they've got planned to meet other international students to exploring the local area and do other social activities with.

5. Unpack, relax and explore

Spend a little time personalising your student accommodation and creating a comfortable room that you'll enjoy studying and relaxing in. You'll be able to concentrate on your course much more easily if you have made your space your own and are happy in your accommodation. Once you’re all unpacked, spend an afternoon seeing the local sights before you knuckle down to the serious matter of LLM study.


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