Could an LLM help you in your career? If so, how much would it cost? And how do you choose the right programme? Eve Greenstein, founder of LLM Global Connection, has the answers.
Eve Greenstein is the founder of LLM Global Connection, an admissions consulting company for internationally trained lawyers and law students applying to advanced degree programmes at law schools in the US, Canada and the UK.
She has a degree in commerce from McGill University in Canada, a degree in law from Queen Mary, University of London and a Master of Laws from Fordham University in New York. She has also practised corporate law in-house for a major international specialty foods company based in New York City.
Please could you give me your appraisal on an online LLM course entitled Transnational Oil, Gas and Energy Law provided by Derby University, UK?
Eve: While I am not a specialist in energy law, I can give you insight as to what you should consider in selecting an LLM programme and a specialisation to make sure it is the right fit for you.
First of all, I recommend taking a look at the courses offered as part of this specialised LLM course. Are there course topics that are of interest to you? Also research the professors and whether the university has experts in this field. Make sure the individual courses that interest you will be offered and that the professors from who you hope to learn will be in residence while you are at the university. Not all LLM courses are available every term.
Also, evaluate the programme and law school in terms of its reputation in your home country and abroad, and ask the university about the extracurricular opportunities and resources available for LLM students.
How transferable are LLM degrees? I am considering studying on a programme in continental Europe but hope eventually to work in the UK. Would it be better for me to study in the UK?
Eve: This is a great factor to be considering as you decide where to pursue your LLM degree. You should always consider your career goals in deciding where you study. Depending on your ability to travel and obtain any necessary visas for studying abroad, getting your LLM degree in the country in which you want to end up living and working may well make your transition easier down the road.
By studying in the UK, you will have more opportunities to network with local professionals and law firms. You might even be able to do an internship or pro bono work during the LLM. This local experience and networking can work to your advantage. If you are not from the UK, you may also be able to facilitate your learning about another legal system and culture, and improve your English if it is not your mother tongue.
If you are from the UK, or if you intend to work in an international field of law, going to a law school in continental Europe could be a way to gain international law experience. If you study abroad, try to network with as many people in your field as possible and use the skills and law you learn abroad to market yourself to employers back in the UK.
International laws change very rapidly. How flexible are the curricula of law schools? Can they really keep up?
Eve: Law schools update their curricula constantly by adding new courses, new specialised programmes and hiring new professors. Law schools’ course offerings often evolve as global political and economic events occur. As interest in a particular field of international law grows, more law schools’ curricula are certain to reflect those changes in their course offerings.
The types of classes offered might also depend on the expertise of the professors at the university. Many professors work as well as teach, and will focus on the areas of academic and professional areas of international law that are most relevant. So a university that is able to attract and retain professors whose interests and areas of specialisation are in developing areas of international law, will be able to offer students the opportunity to study the most innovative and current legal topics.
What did you gain from studying law in different countries? Do you think that law students today need to have an understanding of the internationalisation of law?
Eve: Yes, I think it is important that law students and lawyers have an understanding of foreign legal systems and laws. We live in an increasingly globalised world, and many lawyers have international clients who will be better served by internationally-trained lawyers.
An LLM gives you the opportunity to study and network with lawyers from around the world and studying abroad allows you to learn about other legal systems. I learned about the laws of other countries and made international contacts who have become extremely valuable professional contacts, as well as great friends. Plus, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to explore new cultures and new cities.
What specialist LLM subjects are in demand at the moment? For example, due to the global financial crisis, is there a high demand for LLM graduates in finance, banking and regulation?
Eve: There are so many different specialisations of law offered at law schools that it is hard to say which graduates are the most in demand. You can specialise in everything from international human rights to corporate law.
In part, the answer to your question depends on where you want to live and work when you graduate from the LLM. For example, in a major financial capital such as London or New York, the large international law firms will definitely look favourable upon a finance, banking and regulation LLM graduate.
Graduates of LLM specialisations in science, energy and technology are also in high demand in the technology and health industries. You should focus on the area of law you are interested in and that you excel in. Gaining work experience prior to starting an LLM degree may assist you in making a decision as to which specialisation would be most advantageous.