How to pick the right LLM: advice


Bitsou

Hi everyone,

In intended this thread to be a blog, but as I apparently cannot have more than one, I'll write my comments in this thread. To do an LLM is a great experience, but an expensive one...One therefore needs to think carefully before choosing one law school instead of one. How should you try and choose the right school for you? Here are some thoughts regarding the factors that usually come into play.

1. The Ranking: Obviously, it would be a lie to say that the ranking does not play any role. One would be nuts to go to Florida University if he's admitted at Yale or Harvard...This being said, usnews should not be a decision maker for the following reason. First, remember that usnews is designed for JD students, in other words, for a three year program aimed at providing US students a general background in law. As a foreigner, you may want to focus on a given field to specialize rather than attend "any class". In that regard, it then makes sense to find out who the 'top guns' are in your area, to look at their papers and find out if you're interested in them; it then fully makes sense to go to the law school which has a clear focus in your area of interest.

Thus, as far as ranking is concerned, it makes sense in my opinion to say that, generally speaking, Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Columbia are highly regarded anywhere. Then you may wonder what other schools are well regarded in your country (for instance, Berkeley is highly regarded in my country even though it's lower in the rankings than NYU, Virginia or UPenn).

Find out among these law schools the one that fits your academic plans. If you want to become a Professor or want to focus on comparative, history, why not give a try to Yale; you want to focus on tax, then pick NYU; IP will be more Stanford or Berkeley; all elite schools are obviously strong at corporate but Harvard, Stanford or Columbia may be your primary choices.

In other words, don't let usnews make the decision for you.

2. Vacation or hard work? You will pay a lot of money and, obviously, you want to get sth out of it, but do you want to completely focus on education or also have fun. If you don't want to entirely focus on education, Chicago (one of the only school where you can fail your LLM) or Yale (New Haven is not really a camp resort) may not be the right place for you. Would you prefer to be in a city (Columbia or NYU) or in sunny California (Stanford or Berkeley)?

3. Scholarship: some schools are more generous than others. NYU, Columbia or Yale are quite generous, while Stanford is very restrictive. Should you turn down a full tuition scholarship offered by Columbia to go to Harvard? That's a tough call and one that entirely depends upon your financial capacities. Personally, if I have sufficient fundings or that I am sure to get a position in the US afterwards (see next point), I would still go to Harvard, but if not, I would go to Columbia as I don't think that the difference deserves giving up USD 40'000 and spending the next years of your life to pay back. But, once again, that's only my view.

4. Work after my LLM: as lots of people wrote, please don't do an LLM TO work in the US afterwards. The truth is that it's very difficult as an LLM student to find a position afterwards as a very vast majority of law firms are not interested in LLM students and do not really know how to evaluate their capacities. Several factors may come into play to try and find a position: (1) your previous law firm has connection with a US law firm (use it...): (2) you belong to a country which represent a substantial market for the US (current examples are China and Brazil), Japan always seems to be welcome as well); (3) you would agree to go back to their European office after one year spent in NY for instance (good door for Europeans, for instance to join Jones Day, Sullivan Cromwell or other US firms having offices in Europe); (4) you network with Professors who are of counsel in US firms (this is what I did as there is no US firm in my country and that I didn't have any good network to help me with); (5) you apply for an OPT (temporary position up to one year after your studies) and hope to do some good job to get a permanent position afterward (don't apply immediately for a permanent position unless you come from (1), or that will makes things very difficult, rather try and show them that you can be a valuable asset for their firm and then ask for a permanent position).

I hope that this can help you a bit,
Best

Hi everyone,

In intended this thread to be a blog, but as I apparently cannot have more than one, I'll write my comments in this thread. To do an LLM is a great experience, but an expensive one...One therefore needs to think carefully before choosing one law school instead of one. How should you try and choose the right school for you? Here are some thoughts regarding the factors that usually come into play.

1. The Ranking: Obviously, it would be a lie to say that the ranking does not play any role. One would be nuts to go to Florida University if he's admitted at Yale or Harvard...This being said, usnews should not be a decision maker for the following reason. First, remember that usnews is designed for JD students, in other words, for a three year program aimed at providing US students a general background in law. As a foreigner, you may want to focus on a given field to specialize rather than attend "any class". In that regard, it then makes sense to find out who the 'top guns' are in your area, to look at their papers and find out if you're interested in them; it then fully makes sense to go to the law school which has a clear focus in your area of interest.

Thus, as far as ranking is concerned, it makes sense in my opinion to say that, generally speaking, Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Columbia are highly regarded anywhere. Then you may wonder what other schools are well regarded in your country (for instance, Berkeley is highly regarded in my country even though it's lower in the rankings than NYU, Virginia or UPenn).

Find out among these law schools the one that fits your academic plans. If you want to become a Professor or want to focus on comparative, history, why not give a try to Yale; you want to focus on tax, then pick NYU; IP will be more Stanford or Berkeley; all elite schools are obviously strong at corporate but Harvard, Stanford or Columbia may be your primary choices.

In other words, don't let usnews make the decision for you.

2. Vacation or hard work? You will pay a lot of money and, obviously, you want to get sth out of it, but do you want to completely focus on education or also have fun. If you don't want to entirely focus on education, Chicago (one of the only school where you can fail your LLM) or Yale (New Haven is not really a camp resort) may not be the right place for you. Would you prefer to be in a city (Columbia or NYU) or in sunny California (Stanford or Berkeley)?

3. Scholarship: some schools are more generous than others. NYU, Columbia or Yale are quite generous, while Stanford is very restrictive. Should you turn down a full tuition scholarship offered by Columbia to go to Harvard? That's a tough call and one that entirely depends upon your financial capacities. Personally, if I have sufficient fundings or that I am sure to get a position in the US afterwards (see next point), I would still go to Harvard, but if not, I would go to Columbia as I don't think that the difference deserves giving up USD 40'000 and spending the next years of your life to pay back. But, once again, that's only my view.

4. Work after my LLM: as lots of people wrote, please don't do an LLM TO work in the US afterwards. The truth is that it's very difficult as an LLM student to find a position afterwards as a very vast majority of law firms are not interested in LLM students and do not really know how to evaluate their capacities. Several factors may come into play to try and find a position: (1) your previous law firm has connection with a US law firm (use it...): (2) you belong to a country which represent a substantial market for the US (current examples are China and Brazil), Japan always seems to be welcome as well); (3) you would agree to go back to their European office after one year spent in NY for instance (good door for Europeans, for instance to join Jones Day, Sullivan Cromwell or other US firms having offices in Europe); (4) you network with Professors who are of counsel in US firms (this is what I did as there is no US firm in my country and that I didn't have any good network to help me with); (5) you apply for an OPT (temporary position up to one year after your studies) and hope to do some good job to get a permanent position afterward (don't apply immediately for a permanent position unless you come from (1), or that will makes things very difficult, rather try and show them that you can be a valuable asset for their firm and then ask for a permanent position).

I hope that this can help you a bit,
Best
quote

Hi all,

Thanx a lot Bitsou. This actually helps a lot.

I dont ignore a lot of people say not to do an LLM to work in the US.

But I also know that, by work, most of them mean working as an associate in a US law firm (especially in NYC).
What really are the job opportunities in international organisations and NGOs? What about teaching in US law schools? Or working in banks or subsidiaries of one of your home countrys corporates? Of course, it must depend of numerous factors (including personal ones). But as far as Im concerned, the responses - if they truly exist - to these questions would not be the same as for law firms.

Well, basically, I hope so a little bit, otherwise, I shouldnt apply to any US law schools at all! :-)

Regards,

Jacques

PS: by the way Bitsou, is there a life after LLM in SLS? ;-) I mean, did you take the bar exam, secure a job or something

Hi all,

Thanx a lot Bitsou. This actually helps a lot.

I don’t ignore a lot of people say not to do an LLM to work in the US.

But I also know that, by “work”, most of them mean working as an associate in a US law firm (especially in NYC).
What really are the job opportunities in international organisations and NGO’s? What about teaching in US law schools? Or working in banks or subsidiaries of one of your home country’s corporates? Of course, it must depend of numerous factors (including personal ones). But as far as I’m concerned, the responses - if they truly exist - to these questions would not be the same as for law firms.

Well, basically, I hope so a little bit, otherwise, I shouldn’t apply to any US law schools at all! :-)

Regards,

Jacques

PS: by the way Bitsou, is there a life after LLM in SLS? ;-) I mean, did you take the bar exam, secure a job or something…
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Bitsou

Hi Mr President :)

Good point. What I wrote was related to finding a job in a law firm. This being said, you shouldn't expect to find a place to teach in a US law school immediately after your LLM, unless you attend the AALS job fair and prove to be both brilliant and lucky...competition is feirce on that market and you'd better market yourself first by trying to publish a couple of papers in US reviews (as good as can be which is very far from being easy) on areas that might show that you, with your international background, can be an asset for these schools (for instance, international law, comparative, history etc...; it would be wrong to assume you can become a Professor in contract or tort law for instance...). As to NGO's, I can't really help you; some people try the World Bank, but there again, you compete with everyone and competition is tough. I guess it's easier to enter a bank or subsidiary of your home country's corporate, but then, do you need an LLM to do that....? An LLM shouldn't be relied upon as a door for a job on the US market, it surely is a valuable asset on your resume, but won't open you suddenly all doors...it would be great, but that's not the reality.

Yes, there is a life after Stanford. To go to one of these big law schools is great, but it's not an end, it's only a beginning, at least for me (and should be for everyone). I am currently working in a US law firm (didn't take the bar exam though as I didn't plan to make my life in the US and it's not considered to be useful in the country I'm coming from). I shall go back to my country earlier than initially planned as I was luckily appointed Assistant Professor. I may join a law firm in the same time in one year to keep in touch with the IP Practice, but I still haven't made up my mind as to that part.

Hi Mr President :)

Good point. What I wrote was related to finding a job in a law firm. This being said, you shouldn't expect to find a place to teach in a US law school immediately after your LLM, unless you attend the AALS job fair and prove to be both brilliant and lucky...competition is feirce on that market and you'd better market yourself first by trying to publish a couple of papers in US reviews (as good as can be which is very far from being easy) on areas that might show that you, with your international background, can be an asset for these schools (for instance, international law, comparative, history etc...; it would be wrong to assume you can become a Professor in contract or tort law for instance...). As to NGO's, I can't really help you; some people try the World Bank, but there again, you compete with everyone and competition is tough. I guess it's easier to enter a bank or subsidiary of your home country's corporate, but then, do you need an LLM to do that....? An LLM shouldn't be relied upon as a door for a job on the US market, it surely is a valuable asset on your resume, but won't open you suddenly all doors...it would be great, but that's not the reality.

Yes, there is a life after Stanford. To go to one of these big law schools is great, but it's not an end, it's only a beginning, at least for me (and should be for everyone). I am currently working in a US law firm (didn't take the bar exam though as I didn't plan to make my life in the US and it's not considered to be useful in the country I'm coming from). I shall go back to my country earlier than initially planned as I was luckily appointed Assistant Professor. I may join a law firm in the same time in one year to keep in touch with the IP Practice, but I still haven't made up my mind as to that part.
quote

Thank you again Bitsou, and congratulations for your IP/IT PA position.

In my country, but I imagine it also applies elsewhere, some say that you can not be very good - or, in other words, among the bests - as a teacher and meanwhile as an attorney. On the other side, to have a little and modest experience in both of these, I'd say academia and legal practice could marvelously complete each other.

Well, to be honest, at that very moment, Im not really sure about the right decision to make. Nevertheless, I will apply. A US LLM is an old priceless dream of mine (really), so Ill figure it out when the law schools Im applying to will have made their decisions. I wont go for a bad ranked LS. And top 3 seems almost impossible, even though I might have a chance there.

Conclusion: Ill brainstorm in March-April '07 and Ill let you know!

Cheers,

-JC-

Thank you again Bitsou, and congratulations for your IP/IT PA position.

In my country, but I imagine it also applies elsewhere, some say that you can not be very good - or, in other words, among the bests - as a teacher and meanwhile as an attorney. On the other side, to have a little and modest experience in both of these, I'd say academia and legal practice could marvelously complete each other.

Well, to be honest, at that very moment, I’m not really sure about the right decision to make. Nevertheless, I will apply. A US LLM is an old priceless dream of mine (really), so I’ll figure it out when the law schools I’m applying to will have made their decisions. I won’t go for a bad ranked LS. And top 3 seems almost impossible, even though I might have a chance there.

Conclusion: I’ll brainstorm in March-April '07 and I’ll let you know!

Cheers,

-JC-
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globe

Lots of people seem to focus only on the top 3 law schools, but the truth is that going to a top 10 law school is prestigious too. You should defintely consider Columbia, UPenn, NYU and Chicago. These schools are definitely highly regarded and will also open a lot of doors for you. I'm from France too. :)

Lots of people seem to focus only on the top 3 law schools, but the truth is that going to a top 10 law school is prestigious too. You should defintely consider Columbia, UPenn, NYU and Chicago. These schools are definitely highly regarded and will also open a lot of doors for you. I'm from France too. :)
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