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Insider Advice: Is an LLM (Master of Laws) in Finance the Key to Success?

Why consider an LLM Finance & Law? To put it simply, this type of multidisciplinary study – combining two essential functions, legal and financial – will open up new worlds of career opportunities for young professionals with a previous university degree on either side of the law/finance fence.

Find LLM programs in Financial Law

With a broader framework from which to view overall processes within an organisation, and the confidence that comes from strong technical and personal skills, graduates of LLM programs that combine finance and law will find they are sought after for a wide variety of jobs. These range from straight-ahead legal positions (corporate, tax or capital market lawyers) to positions in consultancy, audit or advisory boards, or to work in capital market regulation or corporate compliance.

The right choice of where you study an LLM Finance & Law can help put an extra spin on your career and personal development, as well as your future prospects. So – what should you think about if you’re considering this type of program?

International exposure

Studying with other candidates from as many cultures and countries as possible might not seem like the first consideration, but in fact it is a crucial aspect of an LLM or any masters program. For those working in the financial side of law, an understanding of the cultural assumptions and expectations of others is almost as important as knowing the local legal regulations. LLM programs in Continental Europe can often offer as many as 40 different nationalities in one class – a big advantage. Even for British LLM students, with a wide variety of excellent UK programs to choose from, the advantages of spending a year immersed in a European LLM – for example the LLM in Finance & Law at Duisenberg school of finance (DSF) in Amsterdam – are numerous, including the opportunity to create a broad network that can offer alumni advantages after graduation.

Top-notch international faculty

It’s a given, of course, that as an LLM student you will want exposure to core faculty members who are well-respected for their research publications and who have the ability to communicate with clarity and even passion. You also want visiting faculty who represent the top international law programs – look for lecturers drawn from the law faculty of such schools as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, University of Melbourne, LSE and University of Hong Kong. Check also for guest lecturers drawn from practice – partners in top law firms or consultancies.

Reputation of the school

Obvious. One note: Bigger is not always better. Smaller schools may also have a great reputation where it counts – for example, with corporate recruiters – and can offer the advantages of more personal attention, and working in smaller groups. The cross-pollination between finance and legal programs in such schools as LSE and DSF, in which students from MSc and LLM programs meet up in some of the same courses, offers other strengths. According to Rob van der Zande, an M&A professional who graduated from the Duisenberg School of Finance (DSF) program in 2010, “you work in a small setting and interact socially with people who are passionate about sharing their own viewpoints in their various fields, which really broadens your perspectives,” he says of his experience in the Amsterdam-based private school.

Leadership & professional development

In a world financial market that is still recovering its feet after a shaky five years, the so-called ‘soft skills’ of  leadership and professional development can add tremendous value to your CV. Look for a school with a leadership program that is integrated into the overall academic curriculum, with an emphasis on such topics as  financial ethics and behavioural finance.

Winning combination

Overall, an LLM Finance degree will put you a step – or five – ahead of others with an existing finance or legal degree, according to Professor Joseph McCahery, who is one of the leading academics in corporate law in Europe, a Professor of International Economic Law at Tilburg University, and a Bok Visiting International Professor at Penn Law. One of the founders, and the current Program Director of the DSF program, he says that lawyers with financial knowledge have a great advantage over other attorneys. “It’s a rare combination, and very useful in practice,” he says.


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