Unrivalled access to leading global law firms, courts and government. Top academics and influential guest speakers. Practical learning opportunities that make a tangible impact on society. Excellent nightlife, cultural attractions and food markets. London has much to offer prospective LL.M. students.
And there is a plethora of world-class law schools to choose from in the UK capital: four of them are ranked in the top-35 of the 2018 QS World University Rankings.
One of the biggest debates for prospective law students considering London for their LL.M. is the cost. Indeed, tuition fees can be high. But you’ll also need to consider rental prices, which are the highest in the country, as well as transportation, food, entertainment et al.
And the UK capital soared up the Mercer ranking of the most expensive global cities to live in, from 29 last year to 19 in 2018. Yet the fall in the value of the pound against other major currencies has made UK tuition fees cheaper for international students, who enjoy good exchange rates, so their money goes further.
“Currency fluctuations may mean that the courses are even more attractive, and our international student numbers have remained strong since the [Brexit] referendum vote in 2016,” says James Lee, a reader in English law and soon-to-be vice dean for education at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London.
London: home to major law firms and other important organizations
One of the world’s foremost global cities, London attracts students and companies from all across the globe. Its status as a world city means you’ll study alongside diverse classmates and enjoy unrivalled access to many of the most reputable global law firms. Universities’ careers teams provide tailored support to help with students’ and graduates’ career goals.
Professor Carol Tan, head of the SOAS School of Law, says: “Our alumni work across the world, but many remain in London and take up a position in a major law firm, including Magic Circle firms such as Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer, Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance, and Jones Day. Others work with Amnesty International and the UN.”
Matt Rowley, law department manager at the London School of Economics (LSE), agrees. He says London is one of the “most cosmopolitan cities in the world” and the LSE is “only a short distance from Europe’s legal and financial centers: government, parliament, the business and financial institutions of the City, the Law Courts, and media”.
London is also attractive for top academics and influential guest speakers, who are lured to the city’s law schools to participate in teaching and pursue research, and sometimes lend their expertise to the wealth of professional and governmental organizations in the city.
In 2018, for example, King’s hosted the Bar Council’s Pupillage Fair, which brings together (collectively) hundreds of chambers, barristers and students, in its Bush House facilities, the former home of the BBC. KCL’s law school also ranked first on the main measure in the last UK Research Excellence Framework, in 2014.
“Research informs and enhances our [teaching], as students are taught by active researchers in their field,” says Lee. He adds: “London law schools have an international outlook: at King’s we have the Transnational Law Institute, and Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law, both of which regularly host events with leading speakers from across the globe.”
London offers practical learning experiences for LL.M. students
But you won’t just be a bookworm: the close proximity to institutions in London means many law schools offer students in the city practical learning opportunities that can make a positive impact on people’s lives. The SOAS Detention Law Clinic, for instance, provides students with training to help immigration detainees in the UK access justice.
“SOAS students have been able to make a real difference to the lives of countless detainees by helping with complex procedures and, in some cases, securing the release of immigrants from detention centres,” says Prof Tan.
You’ll be spoilt for choice of entertainment in the city, too. There are major lifestyle benefits to doing an LL.M. in London, not least nightlife, cultural attractions and food markets. “Our students are very active in helping to build a community of law students at SOAS,” Prof Tan says. “Each year a number of student societies organize careers and social events as well as mooting competitions and a peer mentoring scheme.”
But what about Brexit?
The big question UK law students and schools are asking themselves is: what will be the impact of Brexit? Surveys show that universities are finding it harder to hire international faculty and to attract foreign students, while there are concerns about access to visas and professional jobs being moved out of the city, as other European capitals including Paris compete for cross-border dispute resolution work post-Brexit.
Law schools say they and London remain multicultural centers that are open for all. “The university remains committed to supporting staff and students through any uncertainty during the Brexit negotiations,” says Lee at King’s. “We value our students and colleagues from outside the UK. London is a welcoming and inclusive city.”
He advises that prospective students consider law schools based not just on location, but on reputation, subject specialisms, professional links and calibre of faculty.