Unlike a JD degree, an LLM degree requires that you already have a valid law degree, either from the U.S. or from another country. It’s only one year, and you will often take classes with JD students. Most LLM’s focus on a particular specialty, like Real Estate, Securities, or Tax. For many prestigious programs, there is a heavy academic component, and you will need to complete a thesis to receive your degree.
The application process differs from the JD process. You don’t need to take the LSAT, but you may need to take a test of English proficiency if your native language isn’t English. You may be eligible to sit for the bar exam in most (but not all) states. Be sure to check the requirements of the state where you hope to practice.
The L.L.M. is perfect for you if you are one of the following:
• A foreign-educated lawyer who wants to work in the U.S. or gain knowledge of American laws. An L.L.M. from a prestigious school also improves your resume for American employers.
• A US- educated or foreign-educated lawyer who wants to get a tax L.L.M. Georgetown and NYU have excellent tax L.L.M. programs that are well respected by law firms. This is a degree that will enhance your profile and appeal as a tax attorney.
• If you already have a J.D. degree, you may want to consider a specialized L.L.M. degree in an area like tax, real estate, or intellectual property law. These degrees are a great way to enhance your current experience, prepare yourself for a career in teaching or academia, and upgrade your resume by attending a prestigious school.
An L.L.M. degree can be a valuable asset on your resume as well as a way for you to gain a more academic experience of the law. For applicants without an American J.D., the L.L.M. provides a pathway for you to attend an American law school and get the benefit of learning about the American legal system. For applicants with a J.D., the L.L.M. is a way to cement your knowledge of a particular specialty.
Jessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She spent two years guiding students through the medical school application process at Columbia’s PostBac Program and teaches writing at all levels.