LLM: Your Ultimate Guide
While there are specific courses designed for people who want to become solicitors or barristers, the LLM is slightly different, providing an academic rather than a practical expansion on an undergraduate law degree. Here’s more information.
What is the LLM?
The LLM degree is a specialised law degree offered to graduates who have obtained an undergraduate degree in law and wish to expand their legal knowledge. Most LLM courses require a 2:1 undergraduate degree in law or a related discipline, or a high 2:2 result supported by strong references or work experience.
While general LLM programmes allow students to adapt their LLM degree according to their specific career goals, specialised LLM programmes offer a structured course of study in a specific area of law, such as:
Business and trade law
International banking and finance, business, criminal, environmental, and tax law
Securities and financial regulation
The American Bar Association (ABA) also accredits LLM degrees designed specifically for non-US students interested in a comprehensive understanding of US law. LLM degrees consist of between 20 and 26 academic credits and take about one year of full-time study to complete. Part-time programmess take about 24 to 36 months to finish.
LLM fees vary from £8,580 to £16,500, depending on the provider. For overseas students, the range is £12,000 - £29,220. The UK government has recently made postgraduate loans available that allow LLM students to borrow up to £10,000 to cover tuition and other expenses, and postgraduate law scholarships may also be available.
Who is the LLM designed for?
An LLM is a logical choice for anyone looking to obtain a globally-recognised postgraduate degree in a specific area of law and continue their education to increase their knowledge of the law or expertise in a particular field. Over 40 universities in the UK offer more than 350 LLM programmes. It is not a direct route into a training contract or pupillage—students will still need to do the LPC or BTC to qualify for those training opportunities.
However, since 2013, the University of Law has offered the LLM LPC programme, which allows students to unite the LLM and LPC qualifications into one period of study. The combined course allows candidates to cover both the LLM and the LPC more quickly than if they were undertaken separately. The programme structure requires students to select modules to earn a qualification in either the LLM in International Legal Practice LPC or the LLM in Legal Practice LPC.
Although some candidates with a poor academic record choose to complete an LLM in an effort to demonstrate to future employers that they can succeed academically, many firms will not consider less than 320 UCAS points or a 2.1 at a degree level, even among candidates who possess an LLM.
What Career Prospects Does the LLM Bring?
Although completing the LLM will not necessarily help a candidate secure a training contract or obtain work as a solicitor or barrister, the degree will allow them to stand out from the crowd and could provide them with the chance at an opportunity to work internationally. If you are seeking a job at an international law firm, obtaining an English-taught LLM can help establish that you are familiar with both every day and professional legal English. Also, given the intense, research-based style of study, an LLM can open doors to lecturing and teaching law.
Depending on the specialist field of law in which you obtain you LLM, other career opportunities relevant to this area of law might also be open to you, including:
The United Nations
The World Health Organisation
An LLM can also serve as a stepping-stone toward a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) since the programme enables candidates to make academic contacts and develop vital research and writing skills that will be required to undertake further academic study. If you’ve already started down one legal direction and desire a change, an LLM can be an effective way to switch specialisations in a relatively short period of time.
You can check out a range of LLMs available here.