Advice From an LLM Student About Postgraduate Law Study
Lucy Sutcliff, an LLM student, studies Financial Law at King’s College London. Here are her top tips to consider before applying for your LLM.
1. The LLM is challenging
Postgraduate legal studies are inherently more difficult than undergraduate courses because the depth of analysis and quality of work expected is much greater. Professors are no longer looking for simple understanding and application of law but an ability to draw links, understand context and form your own opinions that challenge the status quo.
In a business and human rights class discussion, my professor kept repeating the same question to us: “but what do YOU think about that?” There is a greater onus on the student to really understand and, importantly, to engage with the material. This can be challenging when learning a new subject and often requires extra time reading or researching topics in preparation for class projects and discussions.
2. It provides amazing networking opportunities
Probably one of the best aspects of studying the LLM is the ongoing networking opportunities it provided. Informally, getting to know fellow classmates created a network of legal professionals and like-minded individuals that will be long-lasting. Study groups and social events fostered strong support networks that were helpful during the exam period and have become helpful during applications and interviews for jobs and training contracts.
More formally, through various student-lead societies and the careers office, there were at least two events a week relevant specifically to my career with numerous other events available. Through the KCL job and internship website, I also landed myself an internship which has helped me develop skills and expand my professional network while further enhancing my CV.
3. It is expensive…
The reality of being an LLM student full-time for one year in London was as exciting and rewarding as it was financially draining. It is a decision that really needs to be weighed up against other options. Knowing I wanted to go into commercial law with a focus on corporate finance made me sure that I was studying something relevant to my future career plans – and made the financial strain feel like more of an investment in my goals than a waste of my funds.
This may not be the case for everyone, however. Employers, even of paralegals and legal assistants, are increasingly looking for applicants who have completed the LPC as well as their LLB. The same can be said about taking the BPTC rather than an LLM if hoping to become a barrister. These are options that each individual must weigh up for themselves.
4. Being an LLM Student requires a lot of independent studying
Even though my classes had seminars and assistance was readily available, a lot of the learning took place outside of the classroom during reading and writing assignments. Whereas during my LLB, class information was laid out clearly with much of the analysis discussed by professors in lectures, the LLM required much more independent thought and the ability to manage time effectively.
My classroom hours per week were sometimes as little as six hours during one semester – but the work required independently to supplement that relatively small amount of class time was exponentially higher. While courses will vary, postgraduate study requires independent studying which may not suit every learning style and may require some personal adjustment and effective time management.
5. The LLM looks great on CVs and applications
As an aspiring commercial solicitor, an LLM in the legal field I am hoping to enter has attracted recruiters to my applications for training contracts. While it is not a substitute for gaining practical legal experience, I have received comments that clearly show commitment to the legal profession and my specific career aspirations.
Aside from my specialism, being an LLM student, in general, has impressed employers outside of the legal profession in job applications to independent institutions – and has also now left the door open for me to pursue a PhD in the future.
Applying for LLMs? Check out our LLM Courses page for a list of some of the UK institutions offering the graduate course.