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LLM (Master of Laws) in American Law

What links Croatian tennis star Mario Ančić and barrister Amal Clooney? Like the incumbent President of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou and former Vice President of China Annette Lu, they all have earned a Master of Laws. Clearly it’s a postgraduate qualification worth having but what does it actually involve – and why should you specialise in American Law?

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LLM in American Law – what’s it all about?

American LawAn LLM in American Law will give students a working knowledge of the US legal system. Typically this will include modules on American constitutional law, commercial law, civil litigation practice and procedure, contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, immigration law and employment law. Further specialisations in subjects such as environmental law, taxation or health law are usually offered too.

Number crunching an LLM in American Law

31 US universities offer an LLM in American Law

4 US states allow foreign lawyers to sit US bar exam – these are New York, California, New Hampshire, Alabama and Virginia

1 year full time study

LLM in American Law – who’s it for?

An LLM in American Law attracts a cross section of students. In addition to law graduates, this postgrad program is aimed at anyone who regularly works with US lawyers or the justice system and regulation.

This includes, amongst others, accountants, diplomats, compliance officers, patent agents, corporate and non profit managers, educators, scientists, health care professionals, journalists, law enforcers, lobbyists, realtors, auditors and software engineers.

The LLM is a must for any international student looking to either work in the US or with US lawyers in their own countries. A lawyer with an international practice needs to know their way round the legal systems, particularly common law.

If you want to give yourself the edge as a potential employee, then an LLM in American Law could be your secret weapon. Increasingly law firms seek out lawyers with a global perspective who are able to carry out complex international transactions. An LLM program will provide that in-depth knowledge and give you professional mobility in the international market.

The added bonus for many students is that you can sometimes apply for a bar exam in certain states when you have completed an LLM degree from an American Bar Association-recognized law school. New York or California, for example, allows LLM graduates without an ABA-approved JD degree to sit the exam.

Where can you study an LLM in American Law?

In the US, there are several universities offering an LLM program n American Law. University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, University of Connecticut School of Law (UConn Law), Georgetown University Law Center (GULC), Boston University School of Law (BU Law), Cornell University – Cornell Law School, Hofstra University School of Law, St John's University School of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Wake Forest University (WFU) School of Law, Florida State University – College of Law, University of Baltimore – School of Law, Loyola University New Orleans – College of Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, Whittier Law School, Penn State University – Penn State Law, Loyola Law School Los Angeles, University of Illinois (UIUC) College of Law, University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law (W&L Law), Golden Gate University (GGU), Santa Clara University School of Law, Duke University – Duke Law School, University of Wisconsin – UW Law School, Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) School of Law (WU Law), University of Hawaii at Manoa – William S. Richardson School of Law (WSRSL) and University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Law.

Outside of the United States, the Catholic University in Lisbon, Portugal, the Anglo-American University in Prague, the University of Toronto and the American University of Armenia all offer LLMs in American Law. There are currently no opportunities to study this subject as an LLM in the UK.

What qualifications do you need to study an LLM in American Law?

An applicant must have a Juris Doctor (JD) from an accredited US law school or a first law degree (JD, LLB or the equivalent) from a foreign law school. US universities will also take into account grades from other academic studies, letters of recommendation, occupational interests, professional and personal accomplishments.

For international students it is essential to have a high level of fluency in the English language. Graduates whose first language isn’t English will be required to have high IELTS (or equivalent) scores of 7 or above or TOEFL: 107 or above. Because of ongoing changes in the law we advise international students to regularly check the UKBA website to make sure they can fulfil the necessary requirements. Most individual institutions also have useful information on the Tier 4 requirements for international students, and can offer assistance in terms of student queries about their specific English language requirements.

Click here to find out more about English Language requirements for International Students.

An LLM in American Law advances careers in...

International commercial, immigration or criminal law


Taxation and accountancy

US private and public practice

Recommended reading

Constitutional Law by Michael C Dorf

Law Express: Criminal Law by Emily Finch and Stefan Fafinski

Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System, Fourth Edition, Jay M Feinman

The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities by Stephen Breyer

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