Help: LLM in US/UK/Canada


SS710
Hi. I am looking forward to pursue LLM at a university situated in US or UK or Canada. I am interested in Corporate and Taxation laws, mainly dealing with international transactions and would also like to do a course regarding Mergers & Acquisitions. At present am working in a company, and I intend to do so for at least a year and then plan to pursue LLM abroad, perhaps, 2011 would be the year that I would like to get started. Please, anybody out there, could you help me out and advise me on what should I do. Thanks.
Hi. I am looking forward to pursue LLM at a university situated in US or UK or Canada. I am interested in Corporate and Taxation laws, mainly dealing with international transactions and would also like to do a course regarding Mergers & Acquisitions. At present am working in a company, and I intend to do so for at least a year and then plan to pursue LLM abroad, perhaps, 2011 would be the year that I would like to get started. Please, anybody out there, could you help me out and advise me on what should I do. Thanks.
quote
beicon
What kind of advice exactly are you looking for? I don't quite get what you'd like to know from your post... For instance: do you want to know what universities probably suit you best? difference between US, UK and Canada? Job perspectives for after the LLM? Fees? Application process? Documents to send in? There're a billion of things to take into account when it comes to LLMs, that I think you should try narrowing down your doubts at least just a bit so that people can actually help you... I can help you out with almost anything regarding applications to UK universities... I've applied to 10 universities (got kicked by 5 and accepted by 5 - that's life), therefore I know my way around application procedures and everything else... but if you're more interested in US or Canada universities, I'd advise you to put something out on a more specialised board...
What kind of advice exactly are you looking for? I don't quite get what you'd like to know from your post... For instance: do you want to know what universities probably suit you best? difference between US, UK and Canada? Job perspectives for after the LLM? Fees? Application process? Documents to send in? There're a billion of things to take into account when it comes to LLMs, that I think you should try narrowing down your doubts at least just a bit so that people can actually help you... I can help you out with almost anything regarding applications to UK universities... I've applied to 10 universities (got kicked by 5 and accepted by 5 - that's life), therefore I know my way around application procedures and everything else... but if you're more interested in US or Canada universities, I'd advise you to put something out on a more specialised board...
quote
SS710
Thanks Beicon, I really appreciate your help. I would like to know how do I get started in order to apply in universities, and also the procedure (including application procedure) that I have to follow to get an admission. Regarding the fees aspect, I have a rough idea and I am planning on working for it. I would also like to know how do I get in touch with colleges and as you said, I want to know which university and course would suit me the best. My preference in respect of country would be US, Canada and UK in the same order. Can you please tell me the procedure that you followed in UK and which course are you opting for? Thanks once again.
Thanks Beicon, I really appreciate your help. I would like to know how do I get started in order to apply in universities, and also the procedure (including application procedure) that I have to follow to get an admission. Regarding the fees aspect, I have a rough idea and I am planning on working for it. I would also like to know how do I get in touch with colleges and as you said, I want to know which university and course would suit me the best. My preference in respect of country would be US, Canada and UK in the same order. Can you please tell me the procedure that you followed in UK and which course are you opting for? Thanks once again.
quote
beicon
Regarding UK universities, here's what I've got:

1. Basically, the most well-known universities in the UK are Cambridge and Oxford. Both have great law schools and enjoy outstanding reputation in the UK and worldwide. Cambridge provides an LLM (and from the 2011/12 intake onwards will be awarding a CLLM - corporate LLM, more focused on corporate law), whereas Oxford provides two different programmes, the MJur and the BCL. Regardless of the differences Oxford claims to exist in comparison with other LLM programmes, the MJur would basically be Oxford's LLM for civil law graduates, whereas the BCL would be Oxford's LLM for common law graduates.

Needless to say that admission to Cambridge and Oxford are extremely difficult. Based on my experience and on what I've heard when I asked around, both universities focus their attention on the applicant's prior academic background and give little importance to work experience. So you'd better have graduated between top 5% to 10% of your class, otherwise you'll have a hard time gaining admission to either one of them. I graduated among top 15%, had 7 years of work experience by the time I applied and got a nice "bugger-off" letter from both.

2. Apart from Cambridge and Oxford, I reckon the best universities in the UK would be the constituent colleges of the federal University of London, namely: London School of Economics (LSE), University College London (UCL), King's College London (KCL) and Queen Mary (QM). I'd rank them in that same order, but others might have different opinions depending on a certain specialisation or other factors (some might rank UCL first, others KCL, other might cross QM off...). Taking account of the main areas you're interest in, many would say that KCL might be the best option for you... Despite the difference of opinions and for the sake of argument, let's say these are the best options you've got in the UK if you get a "bugger-off" letter from Cambridge and Oxford like I did.

Admission to the colleges of the University of London, though easier when compared to Cambridge and Oxford, aren't a walk in the park. Rumour has it that LSE has the highest standards of all four colleges... no wonder they've also told me to "seek graduate studies elsewhere". On the other end, QM is probably the easiest one to get into. Just so you know, I got in at UCL, KCL and QM and will be off to UCL in September 2010.

3. Regardless of where you send applications to, the requirements regarding documents are more or less the same:

i. a personal statement where you describe why you want to pursue graduate studies and what you've done throughout life that is worth mentioning (things that will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd);

ii. two letter of recommendation (Oxford require three letters). I advise you to ask former professors you had over your undergraduate programme (or any graduate study you may've done) instead of professional references... unlike some US universities, in the UK LLM recruiters tend to prefer academic references;

iii. copy of your previous degrees (higher education only) so that they can check your performance at the undergraduate level and any other graduate study you may've done;

iv. copy of your degree certificate; and

vi. IELTS or TOFEL. The English language requirements set out for LLM programmes vary from one university to the other. I did the IELTS so can't really help you with the TOFEL. If I'm not mistaken, Cambridge, Oxford and LSE require IELTS 7.5, with no less than 7.0 in all four skills. UCL requires IELTS 7.5, with no less than 6.5 in all four skills. KCL requires IELTS 7.0, with no less than 7.0 in all four skills. QM requires IELTS 7.0, with no less than 6.5 in writing.

You can find the above information on the universities' websites:

i. Cambridge - www.law.cam.ac.uk
ii. Oxford www.law.ox.ac.uk
iii. LSE - www.lse.ac.uk/law
iv. UCL - www.ucl.ac.uk/laws
v. KCL - www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/law
vi. QM - www.law.qmul.ac.uk

There you'll also find walkthroughs that will help you out with the application. At first, it'll all look a bit surreal and undoable but after you get used to the idea and everything else, you will see that (even though not being easy) it is not rocket science

4. The most important and difficult document to put together is the personal statement. It's mandatory that you do your best here.

5. I've narrowed down your choices to universities in England, ok? To be more precise, to the cities of Cambridge, Oxford and London. There're people who'd also list other universities such as Nottingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Warwick... but taking into account that the UK the last option in your preference list, I've assumed you'd like to centre on London (after all, that's the place where things are most likely to happen in the UK). Cambridge and Oxford are exceptions, but nobody applying for LLMs in the UK can leave those out...

In my opinion, the easiest way to go about applications is to enter the universities' websites and take a look around. Check out the modules on offer, start drafting your personal statement, ask around to find referees to give you the letters of recommendation... If you start now, you've got an entire year ahead of you before applications for the 2011/12 intake begin, so that gives you quite a lot of time to put everything together nice and easy.

If you have any other doubts, or if I've missed out anything you would like to know, please contact me and I'll be glad to help.

Regards,
Regarding UK universities, here's what I've got:

1. Basically, the most well-known universities in the UK are Cambridge and Oxford. Both have great law schools and enjoy outstanding reputation in the UK and worldwide. Cambridge provides an LLM (and from the 2011/12 intake onwards will be awarding a CLLM - corporate LLM, more focused on corporate law), whereas Oxford provides two different programmes, the MJur and the BCL. Regardless of the differences Oxford claims to exist in comparison with other LLM programmes, the MJur would basically be Oxford's LLM for civil law graduates, whereas the BCL would be Oxford's LLM for common law graduates.

Needless to say that admission to Cambridge and Oxford are extremely difficult. Based on my experience and on what I've heard when I asked around, both universities focus their attention on the applicant's prior academic background and give little importance to work experience. So you'd better have graduated between top 5% to 10% of your class, otherwise you'll have a hard time gaining admission to either one of them. I graduated among top 15%, had 7 years of work experience by the time I applied and got a nice "bugger-off" letter from both.

2. Apart from Cambridge and Oxford, I reckon the best universities in the UK would be the constituent colleges of the federal University of London, namely: London School of Economics (LSE), University College London (UCL), King's College London (KCL) and Queen Mary (QM). I'd rank them in that same order, but others might have different opinions depending on a certain specialisation or other factors (some might rank UCL first, others KCL, other might cross QM off...). Taking account of the main areas you're interest in, many would say that KCL might be the best option for you... Despite the difference of opinions and for the sake of argument, let's say these are the best options you've got in the UK if you get a "bugger-off" letter from Cambridge and Oxford like I did.

Admission to the colleges of the University of London, though easier when compared to Cambridge and Oxford, aren't a walk in the park. Rumour has it that LSE has the highest standards of all four colleges... no wonder they've also told me to "seek graduate studies elsewhere". On the other end, QM is probably the easiest one to get into. Just so you know, I got in at UCL, KCL and QM and will be off to UCL in September 2010.

3. Regardless of where you send applications to, the requirements regarding documents are more or less the same:

i. a personal statement where you describe why you want to pursue graduate studies and what you've done throughout life that is worth mentioning (things that will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd);

ii. two letter of recommendation (Oxford require three letters). I advise you to ask former professors you had over your undergraduate programme (or any graduate study you may've done) instead of professional references... unlike some US universities, in the UK LLM recruiters tend to prefer academic references;

iii. copy of your previous degrees (higher education only) so that they can check your performance at the undergraduate level and any other graduate study you may've done;

iv. copy of your degree certificate; and

vi. IELTS or TOFEL. The English language requirements set out for LLM programmes vary from one university to the other. I did the IELTS so can't really help you with the TOFEL. If I'm not mistaken, Cambridge, Oxford and LSE require IELTS 7.5, with no less than 7.0 in all four skills. UCL requires IELTS 7.5, with no less than 6.5 in all four skills. KCL requires IELTS 7.0, with no less than 7.0 in all four skills. QM requires IELTS 7.0, with no less than 6.5 in writing.

You can find the above information on the universities' websites:

i. Cambridge - www.law.cam.ac.uk
ii. Oxford – www.law.ox.ac.uk
iii. LSE - www.lse.ac.uk/law
iv. UCL - www.ucl.ac.uk/laws
v. KCL - www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/law
vi. QM - www.law.qmul.ac.uk

There you'll also find walkthroughs that will help you out with the application. At first, it'll all look a bit surreal and undoable but after you get used to the idea and everything else, you will see that (even though not being easy) it is not rocket science…

4. The most important and difficult document to put together is the personal statement. It's mandatory that you do your best here.

5. I've narrowed down your choices to universities in England, ok? To be more precise, to the cities of Cambridge, Oxford and London. There're people who'd also list other universities such as Nottingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Warwick... but taking into account that the UK the last option in your preference list, I've assumed you'd like to centre on London (after all, that's the place where things are most likely to happen in the UK). Cambridge and Oxford are exceptions, but nobody applying for LLMs in the UK can leave those out...

In my opinion, the easiest way to go about applications is to enter the universities' websites and take a look around. Check out the modules on offer, start drafting your personal statement, ask around to find referees to give you the letters of recommendation... If you start now, you've got an entire year ahead of you before applications for the 2011/12 intake begin, so that gives you quite a lot of time to put everything together nice and easy.

If you have any other doubts, or if I've missed out anything you would like to know, please contact me and I'll be glad to help.

Regards,
quote
ArunS
Wow, beicon. Most helpful!
Wow, beicon. Most helpful!
quote
beicon
Wow, beicon. Most helpful!


I'm very nervous about the LLM... especially now as September closes in... can't stop fidgeting about... helping out others through their applications kind of releases the stress, you know?
<blockquote>Wow, beicon. Most helpful!</blockquote>

I'm very nervous about the LLM... especially now as September closes in... can't stop fidgeting about... helping out others through their applications kind of releases the stress, you know?
quote
I can maybe provide some info on Canadian LLM programs (and perhaps answer some general questions about US law schools, as I did my JD in the US). But first, a quick note about a major divide in LLMs between Europe (esp. UK)/North America (esp. US):

Most European LLM programs are genuine masters programs, entirely separate from the undergraduate law programs. They have the same faculty, etc., but the courses are entirely different, and you typically have to apply to a specialized program or at least have some fairly specific goals laid out in your personal statement (Oxford, at least, is an exception in this regard, but pretty much everywhere else wants you to specialize). North American programs, on the other hand, are usually tacked on top of the general undergraduate LLB/JD programs. You will, for the most part, be taking classes with the undergraduate law students and you'll often be graded on the same scales. While many North American law schools have specialty LLMs, there are many more generalist LLMs that are focused on "American law" or whatnot.

So, if you want an organized program with a bunch of grad students all specializing in the same area of the law, a UK school is probably for you. If you want a generalist program focused on American law or the common law in general, a US school is probably for you.

(FWIW, the big downside of this in the US is that the LLM is not really respected much at all outside of a few specialty areas, such as tax, and many law schools view their LLM programs as cash cows to bring in more revenue.)

Anyway, onto some specific Canadian programs...

I will be starting at McGill University's Institute of Comparative Law two weeks from tomorrow. It's a really interesting program, basically growing out of McGill's unique position in Montreal, a mixed-language city in a civil law province inside a common law nation. This program happens to fit pretty much what I was looking for (a comparative law program where I could focus on US/Canadian legal issues), but is not necessarily ideal for someone wanting a more commercial LLM. There are a couple of other LLM tracks at McGill (the other big one is Air and Space Law), but I'm not sure it's an ideal place for someone focused on commercial law, esp. as McGill bar grad students from taking entry level undergraduate courses - you are basically limited to upper level seminars and graduate-only courses. (In this respect, McGill is something of a hybrid between the US/UK approaches).

The other big LLM program in Canada is at the University of Toronto. It's an amazingly good law school and they have a much stronger focus on commercial law, but it is also the most expensive university in Canada (at least for foreign students).

Other big-name schools in Canada are Osgoode Hall (York University), also in Toronto, and the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. Osgoode has a strong research-based LLM and has a separate "professional" LLM, but only just started offering a traditional taught LLM out of its main campus, so I can't really speak much to it's quality. UBC is supposed to be pretty good, but I didn't look into it too much because it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

A few other places that might be worth looking into, which may or may not have what you want: University of Victoria (also in British Columbia), University of Western Ontario, University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University (in Halifax, Nova Scotia).

Finally, as for the application process in Canada, it's different for all of the schools, though they typically have an application fee of about $100 and you usually need two references. You'll also have to write a personal statement/research proposal, which will need to be especially good if you are applying to a research-based/thesis program (most of the universities have research-stream and coursework-stream options; much more funding is available for the research-stream students, but you are also much more likely to be rejected because no suitable advisor is available, they don't think your proposal is strong enough, or they just don't have much funding that year).

Knowing what I do about LLM programs at US law schools, I would definitely encourage you to at least look into the Canadian schools, especially if you don't think you'll be able to get into the top programs in the US.

Okay, long rant over.
I can maybe provide some info on Canadian LLM programs (and perhaps answer some general questions about US law schools, as I did my JD in the US). But first, a quick note about a major divide in LLMs between Europe (esp. UK)/North America (esp. US):

Most European LLM programs are genuine masters programs, entirely separate from the undergraduate law programs. They have the same faculty, etc., but the courses are entirely different, and you typically have to apply to a specialized program or at least have some fairly specific goals laid out in your personal statement (Oxford, at least, is an exception in this regard, but pretty much everywhere else wants you to specialize). North American programs, on the other hand, are usually tacked on top of the general undergraduate LLB/JD programs. You will, for the most part, be taking classes with the undergraduate law students and you'll often be graded on the same scales. While many North American law schools have specialty LLMs, there are many more generalist LLMs that are focused on "American law" or whatnot.

So, if you want an organized program with a bunch of grad students all specializing in the same area of the law, a UK school is probably for you. If you want a generalist program focused on American law or the common law in general, a US school is probably for you.

(FWIW, the big downside of this in the US is that the LLM is not really respected much at all outside of a few specialty areas, such as tax, and many law schools view their LLM programs as cash cows to bring in more revenue.)

Anyway, onto some specific Canadian programs...

I will be starting at McGill University's Institute of Comparative Law two weeks from tomorrow. It's a really interesting program, basically growing out of McGill's unique position in Montreal, a mixed-language city in a civil law province inside a common law nation. This program happens to fit pretty much what I was looking for (a comparative law program where I could focus on US/Canadian legal issues), but is not necessarily ideal for someone wanting a more commercial LLM. There are a couple of other LLM tracks at McGill (the other big one is Air and Space Law), but I'm not sure it's an ideal place for someone focused on commercial law, esp. as McGill bar grad students from taking entry level undergraduate courses - you are basically limited to upper level seminars and graduate-only courses. (In this respect, McGill is something of a hybrid between the US/UK approaches).

The other big LLM program in Canada is at the University of Toronto. It's an amazingly good law school and they have a much stronger focus on commercial law, but it is also the most expensive university in Canada (at least for foreign students).

Other big-name schools in Canada are Osgoode Hall (York University), also in Toronto, and the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. Osgoode has a strong research-based LLM and has a separate "professional" LLM, but only just started offering a traditional taught LLM out of its main campus, so I can't really speak much to it's quality. UBC is supposed to be pretty good, but I didn't look into it too much because it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

A few other places that might be worth looking into, which may or may not have what you want: University of Victoria (also in British Columbia), University of Western Ontario, University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University (in Halifax, Nova Scotia).

Finally, as for the application process in Canada, it's different for all of the schools, though they typically have an application fee of about $100 and you usually need two references. You'll also have to write a personal statement/research proposal, which will need to be especially good if you are applying to a research-based/thesis program (most of the universities have research-stream and coursework-stream options; much more funding is available for the research-stream students, but you are also much more likely to be rejected because no suitable advisor is available, they don't think your proposal is strong enough, or they just don't have much funding that year).

Knowing what I do about LLM programs at US law schools, I would definitely encourage you to at least look into the Canadian schools, especially if you don't think you'll be able to get into the top programs in the US.

Okay, long rant over.
quote
beicon
Most European LLM programs are genuine masters programs, entirely separate from the undergraduate law programs. They have the same faculty, etc., but the courses are entirely different, and you typically have to apply to a specialized program or at least have some fairly specific goals laid out in your personal statement (Oxford, at least, is an exception in this regard, but pretty much everywhere else wants you to specialize). North American programs, on the other hand, are usually tacked on top of the general undergraduate LLB/JD programs. You will, for the most part, be taking classes with the undergraduate law students and you'll often be graded on the same scales.


Very good observation by NYC_Charles. I completely forgot to point that out... I'm my humble opinion, in that regard I vote for UK universities... but many would find the opportunity to blend in with JD students the best part of a US LLM programme... probably thinking of networking opportunities. And I'd definitely look into Canadian law schools, such as McGill or Toronto... cheaper than US's and depending on your goals, just as good...
<blockquote>Most European LLM programs are genuine masters programs, entirely separate from the undergraduate law programs. They have the same faculty, etc., but the courses are entirely different, and you typically have to apply to a specialized program or at least have some fairly specific goals laid out in your personal statement (Oxford, at least, is an exception in this regard, but pretty much everywhere else wants you to specialize). North American programs, on the other hand, are usually tacked on top of the general undergraduate LLB/JD programs. You will, for the most part, be taking classes with the undergraduate law students and you'll often be graded on the same scales.</blockquote>

Very good observation by NYC_Charles. I completely forgot to point that out... I'm my humble opinion, in that regard I vote for UK universities... but many would find the opportunity to blend in with JD students the best part of a US LLM programme... probably thinking of networking opportunities. And I'd definitely look into Canadian law schools, such as McGill or Toronto... cheaper than US's and depending on your goals, just as good...
quote
And I'd definitely look into Canadian law schools, such as McGill or Toronto... cheaper than US's and depending on your goals, just as good...


Definitely true. This year, U Toronto was CAD 24,000 for international students, McGill is a little less (esp. if you can get a differential fee waiver for the required summer term), and the other Canadian schools are between 10 and 15k (CAD). Definitely a steal in comparison to the US schools, even if the USD/CAD exchange rate really sucks right now (at least for Americans or anyone with a currency that is pegged to or closely follows the US dollar).
<blockquote>And I'd definitely look into Canadian law schools, such as McGill or Toronto... cheaper than US's and depending on your goals, just as good... </blockquote>

Definitely true. This year, U Toronto was CAD 24,000 for international students, McGill is a little less (esp. if you can get a differential fee waiver for the required summer term), and the other Canadian schools are between 10 and 15k (CAD). Definitely a steal in comparison to the US schools, even if the USD/CAD exchange rate really sucks right now (at least for Americans or anyone with a currency that is pegged to or closely follows the US dollar).
quote

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