What do legal employers think of the LLM?
Generally speaking, undertaking an LLM won’t make or break your applications to law firms, as recruiters place greater value on your performance at undergraduate level as well as past work experience you’ve had in the legal sector.
Even though LLM in itself is not a guarantee of securing a training contract, you can undoubtedly use it to your advantage. For example, it will help you stand out from the crowd and act as tangible proof of your passion for the specific area of law that you’ve specialised in. For example, if you have studied an LLM in Finance Law at The University of Law, and then apply to a firm with a specialist banking & financial services offering, you should ensure your knowledge and passion for that area shines through in your application.
How can I sell my LLM to recruiters?
In your applications, you should detail how studying an LLM has developed your legal knowledge and your reasons for delving deeper into academic study. If you’re able to sell the experience to employers as a key step in your legal training rather than a mere stopgap to improve academic results, you can turn your LLM into an effective asset when it comes to carving out a career as a solicitor or barrister.
It’s important to show that your decision to do an LLM was thought out, with your future career prospects in mind and with other options taken into account, such as gaining work experience.
This is especially true if the area you’ve studied is also one of the firm’s own practice areas, making you a more interesting candidate for recruiters, compared to graduates who have only completed the catch-all LLB course or LPC. The LLM is also an option for those who have deferred their training contracts, in which case taking a year to specialise in a department of the firm can be invaluable, provided your contract allows for it.
What about other careers?
When considering careers beyond the training contract and qualifying as a solicitor, the LLM can lead you to a range of different opportunities, especially considering its international nature.
For instance, if you’ve specialised in International Law you might find opportunities in institutions such as the UN. You could also use your LLM to transition to other professional sectors, such as business, banking, or remaining in academia after graduation.
Ultimately, the decision to begin an LLM should be based on your own passion for a specific area of law, as it’s unlikely to have a major impact on your employability. This is especially the case if you’ve already completed the legal training route of completing an undergraduate degree, gaining two years of work experience and completing the GDL and LPC - or the SQE exams, as will be the case from autumn 2021.