If you want to obtain an LL.M., you'll need to decide whether you want to stay home to pursue the degree or relocate to somewhere new. This might seem like a big decision, but choosing will be much easier if you consider a few key questions about what you want to take away from your education and how much you want to disrupt your current life.
Why should I relocate for my LL.M.?
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to move for an LL.M. Many students decide to pursue an LL.M. to further specialize their legal knowledge and increase their chances of finding a job in a specific field. If you want to study biotechnology law, for example, and your local school doesn't offer a program in biotechnology, you could consider finding a school elsewhere that does offer a program in this subject.
If you want to launch a career in another country or develop expertise on a different legal system, you should consider relocating abroad for an LL.M. For example, students raised on the common law system in the United States and United Kingdom could go to a country like France or Germany to learn about the civil law system, or vice versa. Students who want to launch a career in the United States, or launch an international career, can use an American LL.M. program to learn about the US legal system, as well as to find valuable contacts for post-graduation job opportunities.
International students should also consider pursuing an LL.M. in the United States if they want to take the American bar exam. Five states—California, Georgia, New York, Washington and Wisconsin—currently allow foreign-trained lawyers to sit the bar exam if they hold an LL.M. from an accredited American school. Passing the bar exam allows foreign lawyers to practice in a US state, so this test is a valuable way to jumpstart an American career.
Keep in mind that relocating for your LL.M. can also provide intangible benefits, such as connections and potential job opportunities, international experience, and language skills.
Why should I do my LL.M. locally?
Remember that LL.M.s are expensive degrees, and obtaining your LL.M. locally will often save you money. Public schools are usually cheaper for residents, and if you come from a place with a low cost of living, you might want to consider staying there instead of pursuing your degree in a big-name city like London or New York.
Also remember that an LL.M. can be a great way to make connections that lead to a job, so if you want to work in the part of the world where you currently live, you might want to pursue your LL.M. closer to home.
Ultimately, before you decide where to pursue your LL.M., you should decide what you want to get out of the degree, what you want to do afterwards, and how much you want to spend. By answering these questions, you can decide which LL.M. path is right for you.