Thursday, May 30, 2013

Will an LL.M. help you get a job?

The conventional wisdom, at least prior to the current law school "crisis," was that an LL.M., especially in tax, was a very good investment in terms of increasing one's job prospects.  That was especially true for grads from lower ranked schools who might be able to leverage an LL.M. from a top program like NYU's into a BigLaw job or a really good government position.  But more recently, some are claiming that most LL.M's, like the J.D., merely exploits the hopes of young people facing a bleak job market with few alternatives.  "Lawyers losing money" is what Professor Paul Campos calls the LL.M. 

On the other side of the coin is this report from a 2012 LL.M graduate who says that for him and others he knows who obtained an advanced degree in taxation, the investment was definitely worth it.  From

Does a Graduate Law Degree Increase a Lawyer's Value?

. . . .

The 24 credit hours spent in the classroom while obtaining an LL.M. will surely provide you with an in-depth understanding of the law in a specialized area, but will it help you get a job in this specialized area?

Based on my personal experience, the answer is a resounding "yes"; I would not be where I am in my career without the degree.

. . . .

I was curious to determine whether other LL.M. recipients shared similar experiences as I, and did those additional three letters after a J.D. really make much of a difference? Brittany Horn Cook, a fellow J.D. LL.M., stated that her LL.M. helped set her apart and gave her a better opportunity to get interviews within the appropriate practice areas. Cook claims she "definitely saw an uptick in responses to applications" once she was simply admitted to the LL.M. program. Cook began her LL.M. study immediately after completing her J.D. in 2010, on the heels of a barren job market. While attending her first semester in the LL.M. program, Cook happened upon a fellow LL.M. student who was working as a trust administrator for a large bank. This student, upon hearing of Cook's job search, offered to pass Cook's resume along to her boss. And thus, Cook entered into the world of trust administration; she now works for a prestigious trust company in Wilmington, Del. Her current job boasts eight employees in its Delaware office — four of whom hold LL.M. degrees.

. . . .

An LL.M. in taxation is seemingly exalted, but other specialization in this degree should also be discussed. Young attorney Danielle Holander received her LL.M. in intellectual property from Yeshiva University in 2010 and is currently unemployed. Holander nonetheless states the experience of obtaining her LL.M. was extremely rewarding intellectually. She does admit that the degree itself has unfortunately not yet produced any practical rewards, financially or otherwise, and in hindsight may not have been the best investment. Then again, the trial advocacy program at Temple Law, which has consistently been ranked in the top two by U.S. News & World Report for trial advocacy, boasts supreme alumni who are top litigators and criminal defenders in the area.

So dear reader, as a young lawyer gazing across the bleak landscape of a weary job market and wondering if going back to school for your LL.M. will help you finally land a gig — the answer is a resounding ... probably not, unless you have an interest in taxation (which is probably a long shot). Then again, if you are enjoying your education, and you are passionate about a particular area of the law, go for it. If nothing else, it will introduce you to other practitioners in the area, and like Cook, that may be the start of your career in a field you would not have otherwise considered.

Continue reading here.


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