Once your LL.M. application has been accepted and you have secured your place on the program, it would be easy to take a nice, long break over the summer. Application time is stressful, after all.
But there are some things you still need to take care of if you want your time on the program to go as smoothly as possible.
Here we list some of the best ways you can prepare yourself for your upcoming LL.M.
Consider a summer law program
Many law schools offer additional opportunities for students to better prepare themselves for the LL.M.
These pre-LL.M. programs, often delivered in the summer before your LL.M. starts, give you the chance for you to brush up on your legal English skills to make sure that language and vocabulary issues won’t be holding you back once your LL.M. program gets underway.
Pre-LL.M. programs in the US might also help international students get up to speed on the basics of American law. So, if you haven’t had much exposure to the US legal system, and are starting an LL.M. in the US, this could be an option for you.
Some law schools in the UK, Canada, and other countries also offer pre-LL.M. courses.
Set your goals
It’s worth taking some time to identify some goals for your LL.M. study. These might be the ones you described in your application documents. But they could also be more personal.
Think about what you want to achieve both professionally and personally. Are you hoping for top grades, a new job on graduation, or a sense of personal satisfaction? And how would you like to keep your work-life balance in check during what will surely be a busy time?
Everybody wants to get something slightly different from their study experience. Making sure you have nailed down what’s most important to you will help ensure you get the most out of the time and funds you put into your studies.
Connect with other students
Networking opportunities are one of the biggest benefits to undertaking an LL.M. program. And they’re something you can get started on before your program even begins.
Some schools will have community tools – such as Facebook groups or online systems – that they use to help students get connected. If you’re invited to an online group, make sure to introduce yourself and take some time to show an interest in your classmates.
But if there doesn’t seem to be a system in place, consider reaching out to people you think might be interesting in advance. Perhaps you can see that one of your future classmates comes from a city you once studied in, or someone else might work in the same field. Don’t be afraid to get in touch in advance: you’ll already have something to chat about when you meet in person at law school.
Get ahead on your reading
If your program provides a reading list in advance, then a really easy way to get ahead on your study workload is to read some of the texts over the summer.
Law basics for those new to the study of law:
Oliver Wendell Holmes: The Common Law
Ward Farnsworth: The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law
Barry Friedman: Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School
Frederick Schauer: Thinking Like a Lawyer: A New Introduction to Legal Reasoning
History of American law:
Lawrence Friedman: A History of American Law
Steven Teles: The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement
Property law, finance:
Michael Lewis : The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
And a couple of fiction books on law:
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment
Franz Kafka: The Trial
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
If you’re moving to a new city for your LL.M. then making sure you have somewhere comfortable to live will be crucial in making sure your studies go smoothly.
LL.M. administration teams or student services can generally point students in the right direction when it comes to housing. Law schools connected to universities tend to have options available that can suit postgraduate students who have serious study time ahead of them. That might be in a private apartment, or shared housing with other students or, if you wish, even your family.
If you would prefer to find something private, try to find out which websites people in your new city use to advertise accommodation online. Student services should be able to advise you on this, as well as on appropriate budgets and living costs in their city.
Confirm your student visa and health insurance
These are also details that law school administration staff has experience with, so make use of the support if you need it.
Student visas for the US can take some time to process, so it’s really important that you apply for yours as soon as you have been accepted on to your LL.M. program, to give yourself as much time as possible.
Image: Library by Fernando Stankuns CC BY 2.0 (cropped)