Welfare law is the branch of law that focuses on issues pertaining to family and social issues. Individuals who have undertaken an LLM (Master of Laws) in Welfare Law will usually explore or deal with cases involving marriage, divorce, juvenile adjudication, custody, adoption, civil unions, paternity testing. The program can be studied full time, part time, online or distance learning. It is rare to find postgraduate programs that specialise specifically in Welfare Law. Nevertheless, it often forms one of the modules of study for general Master of Laws programs.Find LLM programs in Welfare Law
1 year full-time study necessary
2 year part-time study necessary
12+ LLMs in Welfare Law and its variants worldwide
10,000–20,000 word dissertation required
A Master of Laws in Welfare Law is suited for legal practitioners who are engaged in issues pertaining family, the elderly, refugees and immigration, child welfare and social welfare. It is also suitable for graduates who are interested in specialising in the field of family law or social welfare law.
Legal officers working in social work departments could also benefit from the program as it will allow them to get a grasp of the legal workings of their organisations and workplaces, and how to deal with many of the legal issues that may arise from their job.
Master of Laws is not a commonly available program in this specific specialty but more likely as modules in a more general LLM program, particularly as an option in another more general field such as Family Law. The universities that do offer the modules and courses in welfare law have exhaustive course structures to prepare one for legal practice as their careers. Here we take a look at some of the universities that offer Master of Laws in Welfare Law.
In the United Kingdom, Cardiff University offers Social Care Law in both full time and part time modes, and the program focuses on community care, mental health law, and practice. The Institute of European Studies has a program in International Migration and Refugee Law.
In the United States, Hofstra University School of Law and the Stetson University College of Law are a couple of the top universities that offer programs and modules in Welfare Law. The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at the Hofstra University has been providing legal education and preparing its students for legal work for more 41 years and it offers a JD program as well as several LLM graduate degrees including LLM in American Studies, Health Law, and Policy and Family Law. Hofstra Law prides itself in being one of the only three universities in the United States that offer Master of Laws in Family Law. The program focuses on child custody, abuse, neglect, support, family violence, divorce, as well as several areas that may relate to the mentioned issues including contracts, tax, partnership law, real estate, treatment options and child psychology. The program is organised in conjunction with the Family Law Center of the Law School. The Stetson University College of Law offers an LLM program in Elder Law that contains modules dealing with welfare law.
American universities usually require the candidate to a JD (Juris Doctor) degree from an accredited law school in the US or a first degree from a foreign law school. During the evaluation, the university will look at the applicants' grades and ranks from their previous law school, letters of recommendation, professional accomplishments, areas of interest and proposed thesis topic.
Universities from other countries, especially in the UK, usually require the completion of a full law degree – preferably with a 2.1 grading – or in a subject that is relevant – as well as proven English language proficiency through IELTS or TOEFL test with minimum score requirements varying from university to university. You can find out more about English language proficiency here.
Anjali Kemwal is a pro bono coordinator who specialised in Employment and Social Security Law. As well as aspects of employment and social security, her training also touched on areas of housing, education, immigration, family and mental health. She says some of the virtues she has learned from studying welfare law are patience, hard work and appreciating those around you. These qualities helped her grow and work her way up to becoming a Legal Director – a demanding and fulfilling job in which she has to deal with a lot of case work and files.
Divorce and family lawyer
Human rights activists
Social works officer
English comedian and actor Robert Mortimer (one half of the comedy partnership Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer) studied an LLM in Welfare Law at Leicester University.
Law for Social Workers by Hugh Brayne and Helen Carr Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook by Carolyn George, Simon Osborne, Allison Gillie
Practising Social Work Law by Suzy Braye and Michael Preston-Shoot