What to Consider When Choosing an LLM
When you sit down to choose an LLM degree programme, the number of courses and providers on offer can initially be quite overwhelming.
As with the choice for your undergraduate degree, it’s important to get the subject choice right. But this won’t be the only thing you’ll have to consider. Law school, location and your future career are also factors you’ll have to think about carefully. Of course, individual circumstances and preferences mean that people will have different reasons for their choices.
Here a few things to consider when you are choosing your LLM…
Your subject interests
Who wants to spend a whole year researching and writing about something they have absolutely no interest in? You can narrow down your shortlist of LLM courses considerably by looking at the subjects in your preferred area of law. Did you get a taste of a topic in your law degree and are keen to explore it further? Or is there a particular specialist area which will help you to progress your career in the way you want?
In which area of law did you perform best in your undergraduate law degree? Was there a particular topic in which you did really well? This could also be a good indicator for your subject choice when you choose an LLM degree.
Taught, Online (Distance Learning) or LLM by Research
You will also have to consider the way you want to study. Postgraduate study in law takes the form of either a taught, online/distance learning or LLM by Research qualification.
The structure and delivery of each of these course types are quite different. Would you be suited to module study, lectures and tutorials like your undergraduate degree? The flexibility and restricted face-to-face teaching of distance learning? Or are you independent and disciplined enough to undertake an LLM by Research?
It will also be necessary to decide to take the course on either a part-time or full-time basis. If it’s important that you are able to study part-time, this could restrict your law school choices. It’s the same for an LLM by Research – only a few law schools offer this option.
The law school
The law school you choose won’t be the be-all and end-all in career decisions, but it may make a difference to some of your options in the future. Certain law firms have preferred law schools for their trainees. With this in mind, take the time to look at what these are for your top law firm choices of you are looking to progress into a career as a solicitor. Firms won’t necessarily discriminate if you attend a different law school to the one they have links with, but the more you can do to count in your favour, the better.
Your location will also be a key factor here. Do you want to relocate to another city? Or do you need to stay close to your hometown? Tuition fees and costs can also be affected depending on your location, so check that you can afford your top choices.
Quality of teaching can have a real impact on what you get out of your postgraduate studies. The LLM is an investment, and you need to be sure you will get the right academic support for you. Try to talk to the tutors at open days or make enquiries via email.
The right tutor is particularly important for those considering an LLM by Research. You need to know you have a specialist in your research topic to provide the best help and advice when necessary for your independent study.
Your future law career!
If you intend to pursue a law career as a solicitor of barrister, your future career should be a priority when you are choosing an LLM degree. What you want to do and the law firm you eventually want to work for should shape what you study and your law school choice.
Would you like to work in a City law firm? Or perhaps a regional high street firm? Which areas of law are particularly important to your top law firm choices? It’s worth taking some time to have a good think about where you see yourself specialising in your future law career. For example, if a particular strength of your prospective law firm is corporate law, an LLM subject that fits with that area could be a good idea.
Some individuals who have already secured their training contract and have a year or so to wait until they begin may also choose an LLM. If this applies to you (good work!), take another look at areas within your future law firm and see where you feel you want to specialise.
Your LLM choice is ultimately your decision; however, shaping your decision with these guidelines will help you to find the right course.