NYU - Class of 2007
By ivan2006 on Aug 23, 2006
First of all, I think this is a great initiative from llm-guide and I hope the on-going information I can share with you can be somehow useful for the students that are planning to apply for admission at NYU.
This week we have started our "Introduction to US Law" and it has been really demanding so far, specially because the course is only 1-week long (differently than Columbia, whose "introduction" course takes 2 weeks), so we have classes all day long (from 10 to 16:30, sometimes 17:30). Besides, there are a lot of assignments (case readings, briefings, essays on certain U.S.case law) and there is almost no time to enjoy the neighborhood. But it has been a great experience so far - all the LLM candidates have a strong international profile and very interesting backgrounds. I am still struggling to remember all the names of the people I know (without success), but it is just the beginning of a very exciting year.
Oh, I was almost forgetting it: the Village is just great! Great restaurants, lots of young people on the street, cozy cafés... Definitely, a great place to be entretained - and to study as well, of course.
I´ll try to submit a new post later this week.
By ivan2006 on Aug 29, 2006
Here in New York they say the summer ends as of memorial day (1 September). Yet it seems like the summer has departed soon this year. It is raining heavily in NYC, and it looks like the people who wanted to make a trip to the beachside (more than one excursion to Long Island was cancelled) will have to wait until next year...
Classes did not start so far (they will start on Wednesday) and meanwhile we are attending several orientation sessions and social gatherings organized by the Student Associations and even by some law firms. Orientation started yesterday and it will continue until tomorrow. We are pretty overloaded with information (how the intranet - NYU Home - works, what the career services does, registration at the library, etc.) and I am definitely anxious to have my first classes. All the assignments are available at NYU Home, and I still have to do a lot reading until my first class on Thursday... But all the socialization was worth it: I met a lot of different people from many different countries, and even JD´s and Tax LLM´s from the US during the social events held yesterday. In the case of the 1L JD´s and American LLM´s, many of them are as new to NYC as we are - they have just arrived during the week-end from several parts of the US. Everybody has a good story to tell and fascinating fields of study.
I am taking the LLM in International Taxation. According to some magazines (e.g. US News), NYU has the best program in tax of the US. According to several professionals I have been in touch with, it is true. If you are specialized in tax, NYU is #1 (although Florida, Georgetown and Northwestern also have great programs - for more info, see the "Career Forum" link on www.taxtalent.com). I knew that before applying (NYU was my 1st option) and I had no remorse when I rejected other admission offers to enroll at NYU. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you I rejected Harvard´s offer because HLS has not offered me admission... In any case, believe me or not, I promise that even if I had an offer by HLS I would have rejected it...
We are just beginning here, but we already have a lot of events to attend. In my program, he have many special events, like brown bag lunches with tax lawyers based in NY. That´s how it works: these professionals come around and make us a presentation while eating a sandwich. It is not only a free meal (very important in an expensive city like NY), but also a great chance to learn from partners of big US and international law firms. And it is good networking. Learn this word asap: here in NY it´s all about networking.
Another great thing about NYU is its location. If you have the chance to live in the Village, you will not regret it. I feel sorry for the commuter students (many take more than 1 hour to arrive here), specially when I think I live only 5 blocks away from the Law School (at the Mercer St residence). When winter comes, it will certainly be an advantage.
I guess many of you are starting to work on your applications. For those applying to NYU, a little piece of advice: try to get in touch with the admissions office and ask them to put you in touch with an alumnus of current student from your country. He will certainly be able to give you an insider´s view of the university and of its programs. If you know well NYU, you will probably make a better essay - which increases your possibilities to be admitted.
Cheers - and good luck with your applications!
By ivan2006 on Sep 11, 2006Hi everyone,I am a little pissed because I had been working for 20 minutes in a new post and I lost it because I had been disconnected by the llm-guide web site.... I will never write a post directly on the web site again…Ok, since I lost the extended version, I will try to summarize herein what I was going to say:
- First week of classes – pretty busy. A lot of assignments. Many colleagues already stressed. In any case, it is being a rewarding experience. The professors, specially the ones that apply the Socratic method are very good and stimulating. I have the impression I am learning a lot – and we have just got started… Pretty different in comparison with the tradition of civil law countries: here, the professors try to enhance the students´ participation in class, and their behavior towards students is very sympathetic.
- Add/drop period – first week also means “add/drop period”. You have one week to go to classes that you have already registered into and to other classes that you could be interested in. Then you may “drop” or “add” another course. Since we are allowed to take between 12 and 15 credits, many people want to take as much credits as they can. Most of the times, it is a mistake. 12-13 credits may be a lot of work. But 14-15 credits can make you work in a 24/7 basis. So if you want to enjoy the LLM and the city, be realistic!
- Work in the US – the workshops with the Office of Career Services start from Day 1. Facts & myths about the job search for LLMs: a) Facts – it is hard to land a job here. Few US students pursue LLMs (except in some areas like Tax), and law firms are primarily interested in JDs. b) Myths – Nonetheless, they say it is not impossible to land a job here, but it depends on a lot of factors, like: i) previous professional experience in your home country; ii) sit for the NY Bar Exam; iii) try to search for a job in other States, not only NY; iv) contacts and networking. I will write something about networking in the following weeks.
- LSAC – NYU strongly recommends you to use LSAC. I did not. Many friends of mine who were admitted at NYU did not either. Sincerely speaking, I do not think using it increases/ reduces your chances.
- Scholarships – Nikola, there are 2 options: the Hauser scholarship (grants you full tuition) and, for the students admitted at the International Tax Program (ITP), there is also the Wallace scholarship (partial tuition). You apply for the Hauser scholarship at the time you submit you application. The application for the Wallace one occurs after admission. The criteria for awarding them is merit/ need-based. But I think nationality is also important: for instance, there are few Serbians around, and in the ITP there has never been a Serbian, so it make you a good candidate for the scholarships (perhaps better in comparison with countries that typically have more applicants, like Germany or France). It is worth giving it a try…And no, by being a non-EU citizen you are not in a worst position in comparison with the EU citizens. Here, we are all F1 visa holders, and we are all in the same situation…
By ivan2006 on Sep 23, 2006
Hi everybody,I had no specific subject for this entry, but the comments made by Lit provided me a way out, since I will be able to tell you something about NYU after 3 weeks of “real study”. I will answer to his/her queries:
What were your results like, honestly?
I am sorry, but I will have to ask what you mean by that. If you mean grades, I just had my Introduction to US Law exam, and the grades are in a pass/ fail basis. But I have a good feeling about some courses I am taking. I can do good in some of them. I will know that in January…
Secondly, is it a big culture shock in terms of getting used to how the American way of teaching and writing assignements is, compared to your home country?
Yes, it is, although I knew it would be that way. I was not used to study in advance for classes, and here I definitely need to do that. First, because it is necessary to fully enjoy classes; second, because many professors ask you questions in class and it is better to be prepared for that. What´s more, the assignments are usually extensive, and require a lot of homework. I usually have to read the textbooks, then I have to crack the Internal Revenue Code and its Regulations. Lot of work to figure out something. I will get back to this later.
Lastly, please elaborate on what you mean by credits, have a feeling it is different to how I understand it.
Ok. Credits stand for “credit hours”. For instance, a course of 4 credits means that you have 2 two-hour long classes in a week. 4 hours. 4-credit courses are usually those considered essential. Most of the courses are 3-credit or 2-credit. 2 credit courses have only 1 class (two-hour long) in a week. I am taking no 3-credit courses this term, but I have been told that they have 2 classes in a week (1,5h long).
Basically I want to know how many courses do you have to take in any one academic year?
I am taking 14 credits. It is usually regarded here as a heavy workload, but I knew what I was doing. Ordinary workload is 12-13 credits per term. Regarding how many courses you may take, you can make your own estimation by looking the courses offered by NYU on http://its.law.nyu.edu/cms/public/schedules/ Advice: it is often better to take one 4-credit course than two 2-credit ones (at the end of the day, you will have to study more for the 2-credit ones).
Ph and how is life in New York, are you getting a good chance to enjoy the city or are you stuck in your books?
I usually take 1,5 days off every week (Friday afternoon and Saturday), and I usually use this time to walk around Manhattan or go to museums (specially on Friday afternoons, in which admission in some museums, like the MoMA, is free). I went once to the theatre, twice to the US Open, once to a Mets´ match… Not bad. I guess I could enjoy it more, and I could enjoy more if I studied less. You know, it is always a matter of what you want to achieve by pursuing an LLM. I decided to take a lot of courses (14 credits), but I knew what I was doing. Hope I do not regret it, though.
Is NYU a nice looking campus?
It is not a typical campus, since it is embodied in the city. I mean, NYU schools are all around Washington Square, in the Greenwich Village, and you really feel a student atmosphere in the whole neighborhood. However, you are in the City, and this has advantages and drawbacks: 1) Advantages – the neighborhood is great, you are 5 minutes away from SoHo, TriBeCa, Little Italy, West Village… Best clubs and restaurants in town. Bohemian environment. Quiet during the weekends, though. Actually, people that study in Columbia always complain about the amount of money they spend when they come to party in downtown and they have to take a cab to uptown… 2) Disadvantages – know that you will not have the typical movie-like image of big fields, old buildings, ivy, etc. Conclusion: the decision is up to you. Personally speaking, I love the Village.
By ivan2006 on Oct 28, 2006After 10 weeks of LLM, the so-feared midterm exams have arrived. In my particular case, I just had 1 exam, but it was a good example of what will be the exam period in mid-December: a crazy period of study… Most (if not all) of the exam are open book, which does not mean you have to study less – all the contrary. You may take your books and your outlines to the exam, but the problem is that you do not have time to open them. I have heard that NYU has a policy according to which all exams are made not to be finished. In other words, all the exams are lengthy, long exams that you should try to finish as fast as you can. And most of the times you cannot finish them. But then, the American grading system applies: since the curve determines a grade by comparing your scores with the other students of your class, it does not matter if you do not finish the exam – as long as the others do not finish it either… Other aspect that you should take into account: the exams are made in your laptop. So, in order to gain some extra time to answer all the questions, you must type fast. Sometimes it can be unfair: I am sure that a friend of mine who was the best prepared for the midterm did not do it as good as we could, just because he types slow… So practice with your keyboard, folks!Time is running fast and there is no time for fun anymore, except for few occasions (like the Halloween party next week). I spent most of my time in classes, studying (you know, going to classes having studied the subjects in advance is essential in order to take full advantage of them) or preparing cover letters and resumes for my job search. Actually, a lot of recruiting events are taking place here in NY these days: many US and UK law firms with offices in Asia and Europe are hosting recruiting receptions and interviews, and this is quite time-consuming. And all of us should start our own job search, by preparing resumes following the American format, and smart cover letters. Apart from that, there are also a lot events: lectures and seminars all the time (for instance, Pascal Lamy, the Director-General of the WTO, is coming to NYU next Monday)… But do not be afraid of all that frenetic: even though I am studying more than I initially expected, I have time (at least 1 day in the week) to do things I like: having a nice brunch on weekends, go to the opera (I went to watch La Bohème at the NYC Opera for $25), to the movies, go to Central Park, and buy some nice Halloween costume… I will try to keep you updated on the latest events. And if you have any questions about the application process, let me know.
By ivan2006 on Dec 27, 2006
Finally the exam period is over, and I call tell you that as hard as it can look in the first week of exams, everybody manages to survive… Personally speaking, I have been studying hard since Halloween, and harder after Thanksgiving – and still, on the eve of an important exam, you wish you had one more day to review it all… A good planning helps, of course (for instance, I have seen some friends of mine who had started to study for the exams on Thanksgiving in a state of absolute desperation in the days preceding the exams), but it is no guarantee of success, for the following reasons: 1) Here at NYU, you don´t have a break after the end of classes to study for the exams – you finish your classes on Friday and you may have your first exam next Monday -, so you cannot decide to forget about the upcoming classes and focus on the previous stuff. You have to work hard preparing your classes until the very end, and you should start reviewing the materials as well. As you can imagine, this is a lot of work… 2) You may have read the books in advance, but you are learning so many things that after a couple of weeks you may have forgotten the minor (yet important) details … And it happened to me more than once: I even ran across some old notes of mine about an issue that I completely forgot… And then I thought: jeez, I was supposed to know that! But it happens – sometimes you cannot remember everything… Let me summarize briefly some important things to know about the exams:
1)Have good outlines – even though you may think you have it all under control by having a good book, sometimes you have only a couple of days to review it all, and you may be tired after studying for other exams and writing papers. Obviously, this is not the best scenario to start reading 300 pages… So here is my advice: spend more time preparing the classes and make some decent word document summarizing your readings. Then, at class, take notes that complement your first outline. At the end of the term, you will just have to print it – and voilà, you have a good summary of the book and the comments of your professor. You will not have to read everything again, and you will study the most important issues in less time.
2)The most important thing about an exam is finishing it – if you think an exam should measure your knowledge, you have a point from a theoretical standpoint; however, reality is different. What you will find most of the times are exams that are extremely long and made for you not to finish it. So if you know all those beautiful theories that you are dying to explain in your exam, forget about it. You may lose time in one single question that prevents you to finish the other ones, and no matter how good you do the first one, you will not be able to get the grade you deserve if you don´t finish it all. So here´s my piece of advice: in your exam, you will find some recommendations about the suggested completion time of each question – follow them. And if you are wasting too much time in one question and the suggested time elapses, move ahead – it will be more efficient for you from a grading perspective.
3)The curve: friend or enemy? – Obviously, if you had studied hard enough to pretend to get an A or A- (don´t fool yourselves, it is not easy at all), the curve will not help you. Approximately 20% of your class may get an A or A-. It sounds like a lot of people, isn´t it? But it is not. Suppose you are in a class with 50 people, and only 10 will be able to the so desired A. You may know a lot, and you may be quite smart – but unless you´re a genius, everyone here will be as smart and as hard-working as you, and for the purposes of the curve, they are your direct competitors. So even if you score 90% of the exam, if there are 10 people who score a better grade, you will not get an A… It is a practical example of how the curve may screw you. On the other hand, if you are in the bottom side of the class, the curve may help you to get a B, even though your grade (in absolute terms) is no big deal… In that case, the curve is your friend.
4)A take-home exam is no “sure thing” – sometimes, you may have take-home exams. Your first (and comprehensible) reaction is to think that you will have plenty of time to do the exam, and then you can go to the movies and have a couple of beers with your friends. Unfortunately, it is not like this. Take-home exams require a lot of time, and most of the people who take them usually have to spend all the time available working on it. So if you have a 24-hours take-home exam, get ready: you will probably use at least 18-20 hours in it, which means that in a “best case” scenario you will have 4-6 hours of sleep that day…
5)It ain´t over till it´s over – And when you finish the exam, the first thing that crosses your mind is to spend nice holidays with family and friends, and to forget about the LLM for some time. But then, you will start receiving e-mails about your first assignments for the Spring term, and then you realize it´s not over yet. In my case, I have 4 videos of 2 hours each to watch before my first class… and I´ve just learned that the textbook for one of the courses I took is a 4-volume book… But I am not complaining: I may be tired after a long period of exams, but – hey, this is what we are here for, isn´t it? To study and to learn. Right now, while I am preparing myself to watch the first video, I repeat these words to myself like a mantra…Happy holidays to all of you!
By ivan2006 on Mar 21, 2007
Although I have been actively participating in the discussion board during the past few months (one of the posters even suggested that I do not have much work to do here at NYU), the truth is that I left my blog aside for a while. The reason was the following: I knew that my next entry should be about the job search process, and I wanted to gather as much information as possible before writing. This is not an easy issue: many people in many schools have different opinions about this issue (just take a look at the “Employability” thread - http://www.llm-guide.com/board/24884 -, where many interesting discussions took place recently), and there may be disagreements. Consequently, maybe the best way to do that is by making reference to my own job search story:
1) Should you begin your job search since Day 1? No. You should begin your job search before Day 1. And that´s the golden word: “networking”. Do as much networking as you can in the first days of your LL.M. Tell your plans to as many people in your home country and in the US as you can – maybe some of them can know somebody here in the US that could help you in a near future. Among these contacts, the most valuable are your professional contacts: in my case, I relied heavily in my former law firm (I came to the US with no strings attached, but I have always had a great relationship with my former partners), and this was essential for me in my job search process. If somebody that knows you well writes an enthusiastic e-mail about you to someone here, it might help you to get a screening interview. And that´s the best way to get your foot in the door! In my case, two of the offers I received came from Law Firms to which I have been recommended by former colleagues! So do not underestimate the power of contacts! In addition, it is convenient for you to have your resume and a sample cover letter ready asap: preparing a decent resume and CL takes a lot of time, and it is not something you can do in one afternoon. You should prepare a first draft, submit it to the Office of Career Services and introduce the modifications they find necessary. The whole process may take a lot of time.
2) The first Big Thing – the Job Fair – the job fair frenzy begins very early in the Fall term. First, a list of the Firms that will interview on-campus is released. Then, you have to submit your resume to them for pre-screening purposes. Note that at this point, no transcripts are requested – they will select you based on your resume. The following kinds of firms come to the job fair: a) Foreign firms that are looking for candidates for their own country; b) American firms looking for interns/ international associates; c) American firms willing to hire international students for permanent positions, d) American firms with offices overseas that are willing to hire LL.Ms to return to their home jurisdictions. My opinion about this: as an international LL.M. you should pick as many interviews for positions in your home country as you possibly can, even if you desperately want to stay in the US. You may ask why. I would say: why not? It is a way of knowing partners in the big law firms in your country, and even though you may not accept their offers, if you impress them during the interviewing process, they will always keep the doors open for you. And if, after a couple of years in the US, you finally decide it is time to return to your home country – you will be able to call some people, and great job opportunities may come up. It is not a waste of time at all. Regarding the US firms, the truth is that most of them come to the job fair looking either for international associates (for 1-year internships) or for candidates for their offices overseas. Most of the times, the candidates that finally manage to get a permanent position offer will not have initiated their interviewing process in the job fair – since there are few US law firms that interview regular associate candidates in the job fair.
3) Finding a job is not easy at all… US Law Firms are pretty selective when it comes to hiring, and although you may say that you were #1 in your home country, it means little here. If you want to work in the US, you must have succeeded in a US environment. And this means grades. As I said in a previous entry, grades are essential in a job search. If you have excellent grades, you will have many screening interviews; if you don´t, your chances will be slim, unless you have excellent contacts. If you have a B- or C in your transcript, your job search is probably over, even if you graduate from a Top 5 school – try to get the best job you can in your home country, where your LL.M grades do not matter that much. Maybe you can work for an American firm therein and you could be transferred to the US in a couple of years! At the end of the day, many paths may lead to the same end result.
4) How long do you want to stay in the US? Although many people say that they want to stay in the US “forever”, the question arises: is staying here in the US really that great? There are a lot of arguments to defend it is: in few places in the world you will have the same pay (an entry-level associate in NY makes 160K a year) or the same prestige. In addition to that, the road to the partnership is shorter here: while in many European countries an entry-level associate may have to work 13 or more years to become a partner, in the US, it only takes 7 years. However, there are downsides: a) forget about your personal life. You are paid like a prince, but you should be ready to live like a slave – the hours are really long here, and it is hard not to get burned out; b) by staying in the US for a long period, you may lose your connections with your home country – and this could have terrible consequences. Let´s take the following example: when I arrived in NY, I met a girl from my country that had been living (and working) here since 2000. She came to NY immediately after graduation, and she had no work experience in our country. Even though she was still very young (below 30), she would become a partner here in a couple of years. Sounds great, isn´t it? Yes, if you really want to stay here “forever”. In her case, she wanted to return to her country. But this was hardly a real possibility: she never worked there and she was not acquainted with local law, and no firm there would convalidate her US work experience. What´s more, after so many years of hard work in the US, becoming an entry-level associate again was out of question. So what could she do? Complicated scenario. When she told me that the maximum period a foreign lawyer could stay in the US without jeopardizing his/ her career chances in their home country is 2-3 years, I though she was right. And I decided to follow her advice.
5) Regular associate or international associate – depends on how long you want to stay in the US. If you believe you want to stay here for a long period, you certainly might want to pursue a regular associate position. If one year is enough for you – you may be interested in returning to your home country -, then an international associate one will suit best your needs. However, it should be noted that there are different interviewing rules: obviously, if you are interviewing for a permanent position you should talk about your intention to stay in the US for a longer period. Certainly, a permanent position is a long-term plan, and you need to convince your interviewer that despite the fact you are a newcomer to this country, you want to pursue the American dream… On the other hand, you cannot tell the same thing if you are interviewing for an international associate position… In my case, I had 2 or 3 different speeches – and all of them seemed to work, as I was lucky enough to get offers both for permanent and international associate positions… It makes me a good liar, I guess.
6) What do firms expect from international associates? - First of all, we should ask ourselves why would any law firm would pay 160K to a foreign lawyer that will only stay for 1 year? I will give you an example: think of a US law firm that has clients that are often involved in deals in a South American jurisdiction. This firm has no offices of their own there, and when an issue comes up, they have to rely on advice from local firms. Sometimes, some communication problems may arise, and they need someone here in NY that knows the laws and language of that jurisdiction to make sure everything is fine and no issue is overlooked. In addition to that, it is an investment in public relations: by hiring bright foreign lawyers that will return to their home countries to work for the best local law firms, they are expanding their network. In the future, if they have a deal in the same South American jurisdiction, it is very likely that they will use professionals from their “alumni” network. On the other hand, one of their alumni may involve them in his/her own future deals. This is the reason why you cannot say in an interview for an internship that you want to stay in the US for a long period – it is NOT what they are looking for. I would describe the profile of an ideal foreign associate candidate as follows: someone from South America or Asia, specialized in corporate law or capital markets who´s been working for more than 3 years in a big law firm in his/ her home country and who is on a leave of absence from the mentioned firm.
Well, I realize I wrote a lot of stuff and that I probably forgot a lot of important aspects... But I will try to review this later and make some additional comments!
By ivan2006 on May 23, 2007
The LL.M. is over. And I barely noticed it. It feels really weird now, because it happened too fast: after my last post, everyone was concerned about deciding their own future, landing a job here in the US/ overseas, and then it was all about celebrating the success of those who manage to achieve their goals. Then came the Spring break. After the Spring break, it was time to study hard again: we were only 6 weeks away from the finals. Papers should be submitted; the so-feared exams were dangerously close... And yet, it was hard to focus exclusively on studying, since Spring finally arrived after a long, long Winter... And New York changed completely! While in Winter everybody on the streets had a gloomy gaze, now everything had changed: all of a sudden, you could see lots of people everywhere, at any time. Some were taking sunbaths on Washington Square, other having a cup of coffee outdoors on Sullivan St... There was this nice buzz that comes with the good weather, and I remembered the reasons why I liked New York when I arrived 10 months ago...
Unfortunately, I could not enjoy this spring awakening the way I would have liked to, because for me, that was the time to lock myself at home and prepare for my exams... and all I could think about was: "When is this going to be over". All I could think about was that I wanted to get past all that and finish this LL.M. Then exams came. Everyone was stressed. And yet, it was inevitable to think of what would come next: it was also time to say goodbye to the colleagues who would return to their home countries (not too many, I should say), and to welcome parents and family that would come to the graduation ceremony. In my case, my parents arrived one day after my last exam - and I still had to submit a paper. They arrived, and I could not do anything - I just had to show them around (the law school, Washington Square, the Village) and to tell them the places I used to go, the things I used to do, so they could imagine how happy was my life in New York... It was their first time and New York, and they were just amazed. When they slept, I quietly went to a study room at the dorm and, there, at 2 or 3 in the morning, I finished my paper and submitted it. The LL.M. was officially over for me.
And then it was like someone pushed the fast forward button again: NYU had organized a lot of all-university activities to celebrate the end of the academic year, and I was trying to take my parents to all of them. A breakfast at the Kimmel Center, the Grad Alley party on the street (West 4th Street was blocked during the whole day and there was a big fair for all students and family, with free food and drinks), the Commencement cerimony (the all-university graduation in Washington Square - to see what I am talking about, see www.nyu.edu/commencement), the law school graduation ceremony at the Madison Square Garden, and a final Wine & Cheese reception for the students of my program and their families... Until the moment my colleagues and I were entering the Madison Square Garden auditorium, wearing this medieval-like attire and wearing hoods and caps (it was fun - I was feeling ridiculous, but it was fun), I was not really aware of what was going on. And then it struck me. It was all over. I would not go to the Law School everyday anymore. I would not see a lot of people from that moment on. I might not be a full-time student again in my life. I had this bittersweet feeling that even though I had achieved what I came here for, I could have enjoyed it so much more... And I am sure everybody was thinking the same...
But the most important was that it was worth it. From a personal perspective, I made friends with people from many different countries and I built relationships that I am sure will endure over the years. And I found what I was expecting to find when I decided to leave my job and Europe: a different culture, a different approach to the legal problems, a different view of things and of business. It was a tough year, for sure. But I have learned a lot. And I am happy that I have taken the decision of pursuing an LL.M. in the U.S. and at NYU. And although my LL.M. experience finished, my American adventure will still go on: now I will sit for the Bar Exam and in September I will start working in NY - just like I wanted when I arrived here. My story had a happy ending, and so many others´.
Although it is impossible to make general statements about everyone´s satisfaction, all the people I know managed to find a job that suits their needs. In some cases, it is their dream job. In other cases, it is not the job they wanted - but it is what they needed. I still have not found a foreign LL.M who was disappointed with his experience. It is true that it was a very good year for the job market: most of the Latin Americans, European and Chinese did very well. Some nationalities had a harder time - e.g. I have heard the Indians were having a tougher time landing a job in the U.S. Still, the overall feeling is that the last couple of years were great. I hope the class of 2008 can still benefit from this momentum...
Sometimes people ask me if I think it is worth it to pursue an LL.M. in the U.S. It is such a difficult question! It is true that this is a pricy education - and it is true that both the top-ranked universities and the second-tier schools charge more or less the same (e.g. the tuition charged by Stanford will not differ substantially from the tuition charged by a lesser known school). And the truth is that you can never know if next year will be as good as the previous one vis-à-vis the job market. My advice is: when you make the decision of coming to the U.S., think of what could happen if you had to come back to your home country instead of staying in the U.S. This may be or may not be the case, but do not be extremely optimistic about job prospects here. Have a Plan B. Secondly, try to go to the best school possible in your specialization field - do your homework, gather as much information as you possibly can, and talk to as many people as you can. LLM-guide can be a useful tool, we had discussed these issues a lot here during the last months. In addition, do not hesitate to contact alumni. Everyone who´s been through it could give you great insights of the LL.M. experience, and some guys who write on the Discussion Forum (like tmalmine, droit.est.philosophie or josepidal) really give good advice. That´s what I tried to do by writing this little blog - and I sincerely hope that I helped one or two would-be LL.M´s...
I will not say goodbye to you guys yet. I will be preparing for the NY Bar Exam in NYC and I will try to post a final entry about the Bar preparation as soon as I finish it. I wish you good luck in your future endeavors...
Wow, "future endeavors" sounds like the text of a rejection letter... Let me reformulate that: I wish you good luck. Period. Colorín colorado...
By ivan2006 on Oct 08, 2009
It´s been a long time since the last time I wrote on this blog... actually, almost 2 years and 4 months... During the months that followed the completion of my LL.M. at NYU, I felt tempted to post a new entry on my blog, but I was so burned out after studying for the NY Bar Exam that I finally decided that I had said my last word on this forum. After all, this is all about the LL.M., and my LL.M. experience was over. And now - I miss a lot my LL.M. days, and I hope I could have enjoyed more, studied more, met more people, made more trips, watched more sports events... it´s just that 10 months is not enough time to do everything you want to do, and that´s it. However, it is enough time to realize how an LL.M. can change your life. As many of you may know, the IBA conference this year takes place in Madrid, and NYU was hosting an event there for prospective LL.M. students. I was one of the speakers, and I had the opportunity of meeting a lot of interesting people who had the same kind of glow in their eyes that I think I had when I was trying to get a hold of all the information about universities, LL.M. programs, applications... Everybody was so eager to know more details about the U.S., what an LL.M. is about, tips for job hunting, that I suddenly felt the same feeling that drove me to write so many posts on this site - the eagerness to share with people a little bit of my personal experience, hoping that someone could find it useful. And then I thought I could say hi to prospective students once again. Well, I believe the last couple of years were the worst for LL.Ms looking for jobs in the US or elsewhere since 2002-2004, and it does not seem that things will improve this year - although there seems to be more activity in the marketplace lately, and some firms may resume hiring soon. There´s only one problem: historically, firms first resume hiring JDs, and only after a year or so they focus their attention on LL.Ms. And I suspect 2010 may be a year in which the LL.Ms, in general, will still be having a hard time finding jobs in the US. I say "in general" because experience tells me that some people with terrific connections or sponsored by law firms in their country of origin (especially Latin Americans) may have it easier to land a job, despite the shrinking job market. But I would advice the current LL.Ms not to dispair: you must use your judgment to decide what you want, and if you think it is worth it to wait some months after you finish your LL.M. (for instance, until after the Bar Exam in July), go for it! It´s all about what you want and, of course, what you can afford - and perseverence can deliver good results. In any event, going back home is no shame, and NY will always be there. I was lucky enough to do what I wanted to do (passed the bar, worked at biglaw in NYC, went back home and now I´m working for a US law firm), but I realize it is not so easy to achieve these goals now. Actually, I have met several people who have just started their LL.Ms in 2007, and who had a very hard time finding something in the US. Some of they were extremely bright, and they felt somewhat frustrated with how things turned out. But there is always some room for hope: I heard that some guys who could not stay in the US after their LL.M. graduation back in the day are bound to return to NY pretty soon, as secondees of the law firms they used to work for in their home countries. So it ain´t over till it´s over, and even if it looks like it is over, you never know what awaits for you down the road - you may not be headed to the US in 2 or 3 years. There will always be a door open for LL.Ms in the US. As you will realize in the future, the skills you acquire in the LL.M. will always be useful when dealing with other lawyers and with an anglo-saxon environment. Besides, being an LL.M. grad opens other doors - you become part of a family of alumni of your university, and this may certainly be helpful in your future lives! If you choose your university correctly (as I said many times in this forum, if you are admitted by a T14 law school you cannot really go wrong - lower-tier schools may be a hard sell), you will not regret it. I have not.
Good luck to all applicants (I know we are in the middle of the application season). See you soon!
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