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Stay Far, Far Away from LL.M. Degrees
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ll.m. degree

Summary: Unless you fit a very small group of lawyers, LL.M. degrees are the biggest waste for attorneys to obtain if they wish to be taken seriously by law firms.

In a recent article by Harrison Barnes, we can learn when LL.M. degrees are worth it and when they are not. You can get a LL.M. degree in just about any subject you can imagine and law schools will lead you to believe you should. Unless you are in tax law, LL.M. degrees are not necessary. Another case for getting an LL.M. might be worht it is if you are a foreign attorney already working for an American law firm that wishes to relocate to the United States.


Getting a LL.M. degree rarely works out like you imagine it will. You imagine a bigger better salary with law firms jumping at the opportunity to hire you. This is not the case. You are only spending even more money for your education that will not pay for itself in the end.

Those that decide to take the route of getting an LL.M. are seen in five ways by law firms: (1) you are a sucker; (2) you want to appear like a foreigner; (3) you did not attend a top law school to begin with; (4) you are more intellectual than practical; and (5) you prefer being in a classroom than practicing law.

  1. LL.M. programs are an easy way for law schools to collect a lot of money without exerting much effort. First and foremost, law schools are a business. They are in the business of creating top lawyers. To keep that practice affordable, they do extra things on the side to bring in money. There are no regulations for LL.M. programs, so law schools can pretty much do whatever they want with them and everyone is accepted.
  2. Most attorneys that opt for a LL.M. degree are not from the United States. When law firms see a candidate with a LL.M., they will assume that you are a foreigner without citizenship and will require sponsorship. They don’t want to hassle with that, so they will throw out your resume without a second look.
  3. LL.M. degrees from top schools are not the same thing as receiving your J.D. from a top law school. If you attended a lower ranked law school, adding an LL.M. degree will not make your resume look any better. Did you ever think about why you were accepted into an LL.M. program at a top law school? All the other attorneys knew better than to waste their time.
  4. An attorney is supposed to research and figure things out, not sit in a classroom. You can figure things out by doing your own research on a subject. You don’t need it to be taught to you in a LL.M. program.
  5. Not one United States Supreme Court justice has a LL.M. degree. Let that sink in. The best lawyers, except for some tax lawyers, do not have LL.M. degrees and there is no reason for them to. The best attorneys are smart enough to teach themselves a specific subject, they don’t need to pay someone to teach it to them.

If you think the only way of building your legal career is by getting a LL.M. degree, than being attorney is not the right career. It is a competitive field, so law firms want to see that you are in the midst of the industry instead of sitting in a classroom.

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