Although many may know California for its beaches, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, the state is also home to a number of great law schools, many of which offer world-class LL.M. programs.
The best law schools in California offer a range of LL.M programs, from general degrees touching on many aspects of law to more specialized course offerings. Although law schools in California do host the more predictable LL.M. offerings—there’s certainly no shortage of Media Law LL.M.s in and around Los Angeles—California law schools also offer a number of other programs, including well-regarded LL.Ms. in Taxation and Dispute Resolution.
Increasingly, a number of top law schools in California, especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, are offering highly-regarded LL.M. programs in Intellectual Property Law. These programs have emerged in part as a response to the large number of startups and internet businesses that need legal help in this area.
Beyond full-time LL.M. programs, a number of law schools in California also offer part-time LL.M. options as well, so that professionals can study for a law degree while working.
See below for the top LL.M. programs in California.
Probably the center of gravity of California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford is consistently ranked by US News & World Report as one of the top three law schools in the United States. Despite the school’s outsized reputation, SLS’ LL.M. programs are rather small and even intimate: each of the specializations—in Corporate Governance & Practice, Environmental Law & Policy, Law, Science & Technology and International Economic Law, Business & Policy—enrolls only 15 to 20 students each year. Stanford also hosts the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies—or “SPILS”—program, which leads to the Master of Science in Law (JSM) degree.View School Profile
The original University of California, UC Berkeley—known as “Cal,” commonly—is a research powerhouse, and typically appears near the top of many of the notable global university rankings. UC Berkeley’s Law School, founded in 1894, has similar cachet: it’s typically the second highest-ranked California school—after Stanford—in the US News law school ranking. The school offers both a traditional LL.M. program as well as a Professional Track LL.M.; the latter is delivered over two consecutive summers and allows students to go home to work or family during the year between. The school offers LL.M. specializations in Business Law, Energy & Clean Technology, and Law & Technology, among others.View School Profile
Established in 1949, UCLA’s School of Law holds the honor of being the first public law school in Southern California. And of all the law schools in Southern California—public or not—UCLA is typically one of the highest ranked in US News’ law school ranking. Located in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood, UCLA School of Law offers an LL.M. with some standard specializations, like Business Law and Tax Law, as well as some not-so-common ones, like Law and Sexuality and Critical Race Studies.View School Profile
Typically ranking in the top 20 of the US News law school ranking, USC—along with UCLA—is one of the highest-ranked law schools in Southern California. In recent years the school has been growing its LL.M. offerings: in 2014, it launched an Online LL.M., and there’s a new LL.M. specialization in Alternative Dispute Resolution slated to launch in 2017. The school also offers a two-year LL.M. program as well as its standard one-year LL.M.View School Profile
Located in Orange County—not far from the famous OC beaches and even Disneyland—LL.M. students at Chapman’s Fowler School of Law study in the heart of Southern California. The school first began offering an LL.M in Taxation in 2003, but has since grown its offerings to include LL.M.s in Business Law, International and Comparative Law, and, appropriately for a Southern Californian law school, Entertainment and Media Law.View School Profile
Housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building near Los Angeles’ Financial District, Loyola Law School first opened its doors in 1920. The school’s LL.M. programs are quite well-established; in particular, its LL.M. in Taxation is listed as one of the top 10 LL.M.s for US Tax Law by LLM GUIDE. Beyond covering many core topics—Loyola offers LL.M.s in Civil Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Entertainment & Media Law—the school is also branching out into new territory: in 2015, it announced the launch of a new LL.M in Cybersecurity.View School Profile
With the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, this Malibu, California-based law school has established itself as a thought leader in the alternative dispute resolution space. And as such, Pepperdine’s LL.M. in Dispute Resolution is highly regarded and listed by LLM GUIDE as one of the top 10 LL.M.s in the world for Alternative Dispute Resolution. The school also offers LL.M.s in International Commercial Arbitration, International Commercial Law & Arbitration, United States Law, and Entertainment, Media & Sports.View School Profile
With spectacular weather, practically year-round, plus easy access to beaches and mountains, there are few better places to study for an LL.M. than San Diego. USD Law offers a variety of LL.M.s, covering topics such as Comparative Law and Business & Corporate Law; its LL.M. in Taxation is listed as one of the Top 10 US Tax Law LL.M.s by LLM GUIDE.View School Profile
Established in San Francisco in 1878, UC Hastings has the honor of being the first law school in the University of California system. Its LL.M. in US Legal Studies allows students to specialize in topics like Criminal Law, Environmental Law, and Science, Technology, and Intellectual Property, among others.View School Profile
Founded in 1965, UC Davis is typically ranked as one of the top five California schools in US News’ law school ranking. Its location—situated between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the state’s capital—means that students can network with a range of professionals and government representatives. The school allows students to focus their LL.M. with a preplanned specialization, such as Business Law, Private or Public International Law, and Intellectual Property Law, among others.View School Profile
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