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What Can An LLM Degree Do For You?

Lincolns Inn FieldsThere are many different reasons for taking an LLM; for instance, changing career or employer, increasing your salary or even as a way to network and meet new people –whatever your reasons, postgraduate law is a good way of acquiring the right skills to help you move in the direction you want to go.

The increasing complexity of the legal world (and the greater need for further training as a result) and the desire to stand out from an ever-expanding body of lawyers has resulted in a greatly increased demand for LLMs in recent years.

Not surprisingly, employers favour lawyers who have developed additional expertise and demonstrated a substantial commitment to self-development. So if you do go to law school make sure you take advantage of everything it has on offer – join debating and mooting societies, experience mock court rooms, network at LLM and law fairs, and take any opportunities that you can.


Why study an LLM?

Here we examine some of the main reasons you may have for chossing to study a Master of Laws.

1. To restart your career

If you are currently unemployed or underemployed, doing an LLM not only adds to your skill base, but also keeps you from having a gaping hole in your CV. If you have been out of the legal market for some time, an LLM can provide a useful combination of retraining and credential enhancement. For example, if you stepped away from the practice of law to start a company or to raise young children, you may be out of touch with current developments in your field or have forgotten too much of what you once knew to practise with confidence. Employers generally expect you to be productive from the first day, but law schools are more forgiving: the staleness of your credentials is unlikely to be a major issue. 

2. To move into a new area of expertise

An LLM offers the opportunity to change career focus. By choosing the right specialist program a corporate generalist can become a securities regulation specialist or a litigator can become a human rights advocate. 

3. To network and increase your portfolio

As you advance in your career, you are guaranteed to meet law enthusiasts from all walks of life. Through interactions with your peers, professors and other professionals, you will be able to raise your profile, get career advice and support, and you might even land a job opportunity thanks to your networking skills! While studying your LLM your university or law school will host legal events during your studies, such as career talks and networking events organised by legal associations, eg the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) – as an LLM student you can attend such events and start your networking journey.

4. To move to a new part of the world

The more well-developed your skills, the further employers will go to hire you. For example, middle-tier law schools in the US are able to market their first-degree (Juris Doctor (JD) graduates only in the surrounding area, yet employers from across the country recruit graduates of their masters in taxation programs. By studying an LLM in an overseas university, you will not only get the opportunity to live in that country whilst undertaking your studies, but you may also be able to stay in that country when you start or continue your legal career.

5. To improve earnings

Switching fields or employers, or becoming an expert in a complicated field is an excellent way of increasing your income. Education levels can affect salaries – this table shows the average salary difference between different lawyers who have the same experience but different education levels according to a recent study in Germany. When educated to bachelors level, the average lawyer’s salary is €4,330 per month, meanwhile someone with a masters degree gets €6,800 per month, which is 57% more!



Bachelors degree


Masters degree





6. To move to a new employer

The quality of your education will be one of the determining factors in your ability to switch employers; so, too, will the alumni network of both your undergraduate and postgraduate law schools. If you study your LLM at a different university to your undergraduate degree you will have a whole new group of alumni to reach out to.

7. To get the bigger global picture

Increasing globalisation means that fewer lawyers can afford to view their clients’ or employers’ affairs from the perspective of just one legal system. LLM programs offer the chance to learn the law, practices and institutions of other jurisdictions – and this is even more the case if you opt to study your LLM degree overseas.

8. To deepen your knowledge

The further training an LLM offers can help you get to grips with a field too complex to be mastered in a first degree program. For instance, in many countries, tax law has become so complicated that even those who trained as accountants before becoming lawyers find extra training extremely helpful.

9. To be a high flyer

Some parts of the legal profession are virtually off limits to graduates of lesser law schools. These include major private law firms, government positions reserved for high-flyers and many public-interest organisations. One way to get your foot in the door, despite a weak first degree, is to upgrade your academic credentials by obtaining a good-quality LLM. If becoming a high flyer is one of your reasons for studying an LLM it is worth considering one of the UK's top law schools for your LLM studies. This table shows the top ten UK universities as ranked by lthe subject of law in The Guardian's 2023 league tables.


UK University


University of Cambridge


University of Oxford


London School of Economics




University of Glasgow


Durham University


King’s College London


University of Edinburgh


University of Warwick


Queen Mary, University of London


10. To be a teacher of law

Those who wish to teach law face a somewhat different situation: they generally need an advanced degree no matter the quality of their first degree. The choice of program also differs slightly for would-be academics. Some LLM programs offer the opportunity to do a degree solely by coursework or, alternatively, partly by coursework and partly by completing a major research paper. The opportunity to do a major paper – especially one that can be published or provide the basis for a future book – is clearly the better option.

11. To improve your status

Possessing an LLM degree conjures up a different impression and reaction than being the possessor of just a bachelors degree. Getting your LLM from a better-quality school than you received your bachelors degree from will add further status. Your status could be further improvednif you choose to study your LLM degree abroad.

12. To have an interesting experience

Many of the benefits of doing an LLM are intangible. For some, it is a matter of seeking an intellectually challenging experience; for others, it is interacting with faculty members and fellow students who are interested in the same professional field.

Further thoughts about postgraduate law

Whether you hope to climb the ladder in your current field or wish to change direction, you are most likely to benefit from an LLM if you know exactly what you want. By all means choose the program carefully, but then go further and understand how to get the most out of it. Decide which options to choose within the program – the right courses, professors and outside activities (student organisations, career development series and so on) will provide you the highest payoff in terms of what you want from the program.


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