The Master of Laws degree is the second level law degree a person earns, after a Juris Doctor.
This degree is earned by completing a full-time program for one year.
Typically, a legal professional or law student will pursue a master of law degree in order to gain expertise in a specific area of the law, for example in international law, business law, tax law, or family law.
The majority of law firms prefer candidates that have a master of law degree because it shows that the lawyer has obtained specialized advanced legal training and is qualified to work in a multinational legal environment.
According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the Master of Laws (LLM) degree is considered an advanced law certification that has global credibility.
LLM programs offered by US and Canadian law schools are desirable for both international students who wish to gain global credentials and for JD graduates who desire advanced legal study.
The majority of countries do not require lawyers to have an LL.M. degree and many individuals choose not to pursue this degree as the master of laws degree by itself does not usually qualify a graduate to practice law.
A student must first obtain a Juris Doctor to practice law in the United States or a Bachelor of Laws degree to practice law in the United Kingdom. Other countries require that a bar examination be passed.
The general curriculum of the Bachelor of Law degree, Juris Doctor, and other law degrees required in other countries gives students the basic knowledge and skills necessary to practice law in the country, the law student who wants to specialize in a particular legal area can take continuing studies in that area in a master of laws program.
The requirements for graduating with a master’s of law degree will vary depending on the program and the university guidelines that are in place.
There are some LL.M. programs that are research-oriented and will require a student to prepare a thesis.
There are other programs that simply offer classes that a student must take and complete in order to obtain their degree.
There are some schools that offer part-time LL.M. programs that students can complete while they are employed full-time.
The classes that a person takes for a Master of Law degree program will depend on the type of LL.M. that is being pursued.
There are core classes in the particular area of the law that must be completed.
Some of the classes that a masters of law student may take include corporate tax problems, estate planning, intellectual property law, local taxation, state taxation, and bankruptcy.
Students who are interested in earning an LL.M. should know that there is no universal definition for a master of law degree.
This term is used by institutions around the world in a variety of ways.
Many of the masters of law programs that are offered in the United States have been designed with foreign lawyers in mind as the programs teach these lawyers the basic principles of the laws of the host country.
For individuals who are seeking to relocate their legal practice to another country, the master of law degree offers the best way to expand the law firm to deal with multinational issues.
However, completing an LL.M. does not qualify a foreign student to automatically be eligible for the bar examination in a host country.
For example, in the United States, there are some states that allow a foreign lawyer to sit for a bar examination after completing the master of law degree, and in other states, the person must complete a juris doctor program.