A Law Masters Degree
To do the law masters degree (LLM) you must already hold either a undergraduate degree (LLB) or have completed the graduate diploma in law (GDL). Although there may be exceptions to this (explained below). Taking the masters is a great chance to get specialist knowledge in a certain legal area and can have massive career benefits. A masters can sometimes be taken part time as well as full time.
Why take a LLM?
There are a ton of reasons to take a LLM. Some good some bad.
A poor reason to take the LLM would be if your academics are currently weak and you’re trying to make up for them. It will make your application a little better but it can’t make up for poor academics. Most law firms will have cut off points in their online application process. So if you don’t have a certain amount of UCAS points and at least a 2:1 you won’t be successful. So it’s best to be realistic about your chances of obtaining a training contract.
If you genuinely care about the subject area, and the firm you’re applying to practice law in that area, it can be a massive benefit. It can really set you apart from the competition. It’s not only shows that you have all sorts of extra useful knowledge, but also that you’re passionate, or an expert, in a certain area. Remember though, the masters alone won’t get you a training contract! You already need to be a strong candidate.
A barrister will sometimes take a masters because of their need to specialise. This will greatly improve their quality and depth of knowledge. The course could be taken before the pupillage or possibly after qualification part time. Some recent masters courses are less focused on the academic side of the course and instead aim at providing current solicitors with further practical knowledge.
What can you study?
If you’re interested in taking a masters in a specific area of law, chances are there will be a masters course available. Even if it’s in quite a niche area. Here are just a few of the potential masters courses you can study:
Criminal Law & Justice
International Business Law
International Economic law
LLM in Arbitration
LLM in Dispute Resolution
Medical Law & Ethics
There are literally hundreds of masters degrees available. Just search in Google for “LLM [legal area]”. The colleges of law provide masters degrees as well as universities. They may be focused even further towards practical application.
LLM cost & entry requirements
As stated above you’ll at least need a qualifying law degree to take the masters. But you will also need to have obtained a respectable grade. Usually at least a 2:2. Although the application will be considered holistically with any relevant work experience being taken into account. It may be possible to get a place on an LLM course with lots of relevant real world work experience but no law degree. Contact the institution you’re interested in for more information.
Typical LLM courses can cost anywhere between £6,000 and £10,000+. This will depend on a number of factors such as the reputation on the institution and its location in the UK (with London usually being more expensive). International students are typically charged more; usually over £10,000. There may be grants or bursaries available so do some research to see if you qualify.