While researching your law school options in pursuit of a Juris Doctor Degree, you might have seen the “LLM” degree mentioned. While simply earning a J.D. is more common, it is important to know your options for your legal education. So, what is an LLM?
What is an LLM and What Does it Stand For?
LLM stands for Legum Magister, or Master of Laws. It is an advanced law certification. In the majority of countries and schools, it’s required that you’ve obtained your first law degree. That means that in the United States, you must first earn your J.D., which is the degree that entitles you to practice law in the U.S.
Generally, lawyers pursue an LLM to deepen their education in one area of law, like taxation. Or, lawyers go to schools with an LLM program specifically designed for international lawyers. They might get their LLM in the United States to gain familiarity with US laws.
In some cases, like at the University of Pennsylvania, some students who haven’t earned their first law degree are admitted. In those cases, the applicants should have a related graduate degree and experience in law. The Law School Admissions Council gives a handy guide to degree requirements by country. The LSAC also links schools offering the degree.
What are the Course Requirements for an LLM?
Firstly, completing the LLM program normally takes students one full academic year. If one were to attend part-time, it would typically take 2-3 years. Course requirements generally vary by school. For example, the LLM program at The Fletcher School at Tufts University allows students to
choose their own curriculum so long as it is approved by a faculty advisor.
Harvard boasts three distinguishing elements in its LLM program — an international perspective, independent writing projects, and and a “pathbreaking” clinical program. In its clinical program, students can gain real-world experience.
Ultimately, it is important to explore the course offerings of schools that interest you. You might start your search by ranking, location, or reputation for the area of law you are most interested in.
What is the Application Process?
The University of North Carolina requires an initial law degree with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, fluency in English, and preference is given to lawyers who have practiced for at least two years. Applicants are also asked to register with the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.
Harvard’s LLM program requires the following:
- Online application form
- Personal statement (2 parts, A and B)
- Recommendations (at least two)
- Official TOEFL report (if applicable)
- Financial Aid application (if applicable)
- Application fee
So, if you are interested in law school, now you know that an LLM is an advanced degree available after you earn a J.D. Depending on your career path and background, you might find it best to earn an LLM!