By Rylie Trott -
An L.L.M is particularly important for any student interested in or already studying a law degree at University- but, what is it?
What is an L.L.M?
L.L.M is an abbreviation of the Latin Legum Magister which means Master of Laws. It is an internationally recognised postgraduate law degree that is obtained through a full-time year of study following on from the completion of a law degree. To acquire the qualification, students are usually expected to write a thesis, with some programs being research oriented and others consisting of a set number of classes. For any student that wishes to pursue a career in international law, the L.L.M is notably beneficial as it presents the chance to specialise and gain expertise in a particular field of law. Although pursuing an L.L.M is not necessary to practice law as it is specifically designed for students that have already obtained their law degree and wish to specialise, many law firms see it as a desirable qualification as it demonstrates a candidate’s ability to undertake legal training and work in a multi-national legal environment.
Why choose to study an L.L.M abroad?
Studying any subject abroad undoubtedly provides a student with many advantageous opportunities, such as personal development and learning how to integrate into different cultures. With regards to future lawyers, the requirements to practice law differs from across countries and continents, studying an L.L.M abroad can make the difference of opening and closing the doors to certain countries in which you can pursue your career. This is imperative for prospective students to consider as there is no universal definition of the term L.L.M and is therefore used differently by individual institutions around the world. Additionally, it is essential to consider the prerequisites of studying and acquiring a legal qualification to practice in a foreign country. For example, in Spain a Masters degree in addition to a four year degree is required to become a lawyer, whereas the L.L.M is required to practice law in Finland.
Where should I choose to study?
Here is a brief run-down of three of the most popular destinations where you can choose to study an LL.M.
The United States is always a popular location for students studying either all, or part of their degree abroad because of its high culture and prestigious reputation of being the centre of the majority of global businesses. The United States is a good choice for potential L.L.M students as it has over 150 study programs to offer foreign graduates. As different qualifications are required to practice in specific states, when choosing to study in the United States it is important to consider the following points:
• Programs for foreign legal graduates that are approved by the ABA (American Bar Association) and therefore allows a foreign lawyer to become eligible to apply for admission to the bar (the license to practice) in certain states including New York, California, New Hampshire and Alabama.
• In order to practice law in states such as Alaska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas, legal practice in the home jurisdiction plus a certain amount of coursework at an accredited law school is obliged of a foreign graduate before they can take the bar exam.
• A number of states including Arizona, Florida, New Jersey ad North Carolina only recognize the American law qualification, J.D from accredited law schools as the only way to take the bar exam.
Britain’s common-law system is one of the oldest in the world and has been used as a model by many countries and is often cited in deciding multinational or international disputes, making studying law in the United Kingdom an interesting option.
• Plenty of specialist and general options are available which means there is a high chance that the specific course you are searching for will be available to study in
the United Kingdom.
• There are over forty universities offering over three-hundred and fifty programs to choose from.
• There has recently been a growth in L.L.M programs covering topical issues of human rights, competitive law, European law and all aspects of international law, business and trade.
Australia is a good choice even for those not already qualified to practice law as it offers the opportunity to study the L.L.M. The program is generally only open to law graduates, however some universities permit a non- law graduate to take the degree.
• Australia has over thirty programs of study to offer, covering full-time, part-time and research-oriented and distanced learning options. In terms of the course, this means you can choose to either study an L.L.M by coursework consisting of assessed exams and research papers or/and an L.L.M by research, which is comprised of either a thesis of between fifty-thousand and seventy-thousand words or a minor thesis of between twenty-thousand to thirty- thousand words.
• Students can choose to write their thesis on a range of one hundred and fifty specialised subjects. Universities such as Melbourne, students studying a specialist master’s degree must choose subjects from the prescribed list of said specialisations.
• The courses offered in Australia are very flexible, offering students the chance to commence their studies at three different points during the academic year.
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