If you are an established attorney looking for a change in your career or specialty, or a newly-minted attorney hoping to specialize in a particular area of the law, you may want to consider the Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree to help you achieve your professional goals.
The LL.M. degree takes two years if you attend part-time and one year for full-time study. Many law schools, such as Stetson University College of Law, offer on-campus and online LL.M. options. Because LL.M. degrees are available in dozens of different areas of expertise, from human rights law to tax law, it is important to do your research before you choose a concentration or highly-specialized LL.M. You want to make sure your area of focus is in an in-demand specialty and that you do not pigeon hole yourself in the future.
While the LL.M. degree may not always be part of the advertised educational requirements for your dream position, it can be an asset to you as an applicant, especially in fields such as Elder Law, Advocacy and International Law. If you are not sure what post-LL.M. career opportunities are available, then take a few minutes to read about some of the opportunities our graduates have found following their LL.M. degree.
Advance as a litigator
Keep in mind, if you wish to focus your practice on a topic new to you, then you will likely need specialized training. For example, we often see applications to our LL.M. in Advocacy from lawyers who are recent J.D. graduates. They accepted positions out of law school as public defenders or prosecutors, but because they did not take that many advocacy-related and skill-development courses in law school, they feel like they have a skills’ deficit.
The LL.M. in Advocacy at Stetson Law is offered online. The courses help students master voir dire, learn to conduct effective discovery and hone their skills in pretrial advocacy and evidence. We often see graduates from this program advance in criminal or civil law practices, or teach advocacy-related courses at the college, or even law school, level.
Many foreign-educated lawyers and domestic law school graduates have an interest in working in:
- Multinational law firms
- In non-governmental organizations
- As in-house counsel with an international corporation
- As immigration lawyers.
The subject matter in the LL.M. in International Law allows them to focus on their desired career path by studying current and relevant material. They’ll also have the opportunity to intern in their chosen field and a chance to build their network as they take classes alongside attorneys from around the globe.
Stetson’s International Law LL.M. is an on-campus degree program and allows for concentrations in public or private law, international environmental law or business law.
Focus on the Greatest Generation
For attorneys who wish to begin working in elder and disability law (or maybe open their own practice in this growing area), or work as the CEO of a nursing home or Area Agency on Aging, for example, the LL.M. in Elder Law offers a mix of required and elective courses that dig deep into necessary subject matter.
Students learn about:
- Long-term care planning
- Estate and gift tax planning
- Guardianship, disability law
- Veterans’ benefits
- Aging and mental health, among other topics
Teach the Next Generation
If teaching is your dream, consider earning the LL.M. and engaging in academic research and writing, along with building a strong resume. While some will argue that in order to teach at the law school level one must earn a J.D. and LL.M. from a top law school, as well as clerk and practice at a big law firm. Those are valid points and should not be ignored.
Some hiring committees care a great deal about academic pedigree. If law school teaching is where you see yourself, speak with your favorite faculty member from your J.D. program and get their advice or reach out to your career services’ office. You may also wish to consider a Ph.D. if teaching is your passion.
Consider launching your teaching career at a community college or four-year college. You will be able to teach and spend time on academic research, writing articles and (hopefully) publishing a book, which will help build your reputation as a legal scholar.
Don't Limit Yourself — Get Creative With Opportunities
Many LL.M. graduates go into government service with the IRS, Department of Justice or Department of Defense, just to name a few. Others have gone on to become business leaders and administrators at law schools. Several of our alumni have also pursued the LL.M. to help them move up within their existing firms, while others planned to open their own law practices.
Lawyers need to stay current in the increasingly complex legal profession.
Consider the LL.M:
- If you want to change jobs
- Move into a new area of expertise
- Earn more money
- Become a firm owner
- Just want to go back to school because you love learning
You will have the opportunity to pursue academic research, engage in intellectually stimulating debate, and expand your network of peers and faculty whether you attend on campus or online.