An LL.M- a Master of Laws, is a one year course which is a non-requisite for obtaining the elusive training contract or pupillage. It is a route primarily aimed at academics gunning for a P.h.D. An LL.M is great for those wanting to develop their knowledge of a specific topic i.e. international public laws and commercial laws. However, most people in City law do not have an LL.M and many law firms do not place any emphasis on it when recruiting graduates. I have been told many times by barristers, recruiters and solicitors that an LL.M is essentially irrelevant. It is more relevant that you do the best in your undergraduate legal studies and obtain the best grades, than in an LL.M.
However, that said, should you decided to pursue postgraduate studies in the form of an LL.M here are my top tips:
- Go in with an open mind- an LL.M is difficult, the structure is different and the topics vary from institution to institution. Be open to perhaps studying a few human rights topics or international topics or even commercial topics, your interests will invariably develop and change throughout and studying a range of topics will not only be more interesting but can allow for a wider range of exit routes.
- Be prepared for reading… A LOT- every week I am tasked with reading on average 15-20 different articles because there is less contact time, it means you are tasked with doing more of your own research and reading and if you don’t enjoy that then you probably wouldn’t enjoy the LL.M.
- Develop your writing skills- an LL.M is great for developing your written communication, for my modules I have two essays with a 5,000-word limit. Clearly, they want to see individual research, wider reading and a deep analysis of work.
- Referencing is key- in today’s lecture, I was informed about the necessity to reference and reference properly and clearly. For my lectures/coursework, we are told to use the OSCOLA referencing. The more you reference, the clearer it is that you have done enough work and will, in essence, attain the higher marks.
- Get involved with extra-curricular- Doing an LL.M is great if you want to become more involved in university culture, and is a great place to enhance your employability. So go out, join the debating society, the football team and even the choral society. All societies will provide you with the opportunity to develop key qualities employers look for and also allow you a great place to make friends!
Finally, don’t do an LL.M just because, many people I have contacted on Linkedin, through networking events and even lecturers say that an LL.M is not a substitute for a poor undergraduate result. Getting work experience is much is a much better way of improving your employability.