Graduates of law courses are familiar with the problem: almost 10,000 young lawyers enter the labor market every year. It is not only the popular jobs in large, international law firms and in business that are fiercely competitive. A good exam alone is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd of applicants. Additional qualifications are required. In addition to the doctorate, the Master of Laws (LLM) is particularly welcome with employers, especially if the LLM was acquired abroad.
The Master of Laws (LLM) is a postgraduate postgraduate law degree. Most LLM programs are aimed at law graduates who have either a bachelor’s or first state examination. Many lawyers also pursue a Master of Laws after the second state examination or even after a few years in the job. Some of the postgraduate courses are also open to graduates of other courses. The LLMoec course. (Master of Business Law and Economic Law) is aimed not only at lawyers, but also at economists and political scientists.
Relevance for the job market
For a long time, LLM programs were largely unknown in Germany. They have only become more popular over the past ten years. Abroad, especially in English-speaking countries, the Master of Laws has long been established and enjoys a much greater reputation than here. For this reason, many prospective students are interested in the LLM abroad, especially in the USA, Australia or Great Britain.
The LLM degree abroad is also worthwhile with a view to the job market. Many employers particularly value the degree if it was completed abroad. Large law firms, economically oriented law firms and international companies in particular are looking for applicants with business-fluent English skills, international legal skills and intercultural skills.
It is precisely these skills that lawyers acquire from an LLM program abroad. The focus is not only on the respective state law, but also on international law. Intercultural competencies and knowledge of English come into their own during a longer stay abroad. Further advantages: an LLM acquired abroad signals flexibility, commitment and planning skills. The situation is different with tax law : Here the focus should be on German tax law and the LLM should be completed in Germany.
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Choosing the time for an LLM program
Traditionally, lawyers complete the LLM after the first or second state examination. For various reasons, it can make sense to connect a foreign LLM directly to the first state examination. The LLM program abroad is a welcome change from everyday German studies: In addition to new impressions and perspectives, a motivation boost for the second phase of legal training is guaranteed.
On the other hand, such an LLM program can bring advantages when applying for a legal traineeship. A gap between studies and legal traineeship can be bridged sensibly with an LLM program abroad.
An LLM degree after completion of the second state examination is supported by the fact that the grade in this is often better. This increases the chances of a place in a particularly renowned LLM program. Another reason to only take the LLM after the second state examination: Many programs offer the possibility of specialization, but the decision about your own “direction” is often only made during the traineeship.
Basically, the LLM degree is possible after the first as well as after the second state examination. When is the right time for this depends on the individual study or life situation. There is always the possibility to catch up on the degree while working.
Funding and application
The biggest hurdle when studying for an LLM abroad is funding. Most universities charge tuition fees that can range from around £ 3,000 in the UK to over US $ 30,000 in the US, depending on the university. There are also the cost of living. However, there are various funding options that reduce costs. There are special grants from the DAAD, the Fulbright Commission and other talented organizations and foundations that support prospective legal experts. Another way to make LLM studies affordable abroad are student loans and education funds, such as the one specifically aimed at young lawyers – Brain Capital LLM Education Fund.
Applying for a study place and a scholarship takes a certain amount of time. A lead time of one year is recommended in order to be able to take the necessary preparations for the LLM abroad in peace. Foreign universities generally require an extensive application :
- High school diploma
- Certificate of the first university degree
- Letters of recommendation
- Motivation letter
- Proof of language proficiency in the form of a standardized test such as the TOEFL or IELTS
- If necessary, good test results in the LSAT (Law School Admission Test)