Environmental Law is an increasingly relevant LL.M. specialization as activists, businesses, politicians and policymakers grapple with climate change and how to prevent it. It is also an increasingly popular specialization among LL.M. students. Environmental Law programs cover local and international frameworks for environmental protection, the use of natural resources and climate change prevention. Students are also exposed to various related topics including water law, business and trade, indigenous land issues, environmental justice and historic preservation. An LL.M. in Environmental Law prepares students for work in private law firms, as environment and sustainability advocates, as educators and policymakers, and for work in international bodies.
Many governments and other bodies around the world play regulatory roles around energy, resulting in a complex patchwork of laws covering everything from coal extraction to pumping gas into a car. And increasingly, energy production intersects with laws governing environmental protection. With an LL.M. in energy law, students can come to terms with the various aspects of the energy field, and get caught up on recent regulatory shifts, economic changes, and the related forces that are continuously affecting the industry. Some LL.M. programs in energy also look at emerging trends in the field, such as the regulations covering the production of clean energy or changes in land use policies. An LL.M. in energy can help lead to careers in the public sector, in private law firms whose practices focus on the energy space, or NGOs and other international organizations.
Generally speaking, competition law—often referred to as antitrust law—seeks to prevent the rise of monopolies or cartels. Prominent cases like the litany of antitrust battles between Microsoft and the US government, as well as the legal difficulties that Google is facing as it expands globally, show the complex issues that firms face as they grow. Because of the delicate interplay between economics and competition, those who pursue LL.M.s in Competition Law might study a range of topics, from economic analysis to intellectual property rights. And indeed, graduates of LL.M. programs in Competition Law have gone on to provide expert advice in intellectual property and business law, serve with governmental and international regulatory bodies, and become specialized consultants for companies, legal firms and government.
Maritime law—sometimes known as admiralty law—regulates activities that take place on the sea. Many countries have their own laws which govern maritime activities within their borders, but there are also various treaties and conventions which provide a framework for international maritime laws. Students pursuing an LL.M. program in Maritime or Admiralty Law will be exposed to a number of issues important in the field, including regulation of shipping, marine insurance, and international trade. And increasingly, LL.M. programs in Maritime Law are also exploring related topics, such as marine pollution and climate change. An LL.M. in Maritime Law can prepare grads for a variety of jobs, including maritime specialists in private law firms, legal analysts at maritime insurance firms, or positions at international bodies.
Thinking about doing an LL.M. in Banking or Finance Law? Many are, since the world’s banking, finance, and securities sectors—not to mention related industries—are huge, highly regulated, and constantly evolving. Because of the size and dynamic nature of these industries, the laws that govern them are often highly complex, which means that lawyers skilled in these areas can be in high demand. That's why the best Banking & Finance LL.M.s leverage up-to-date research in the fields, which may be produced by research centers that are hosted by law schools. These LL.M. programs will cover a range of financial topics, ranging from financial law to corporate law, and may address issues like central banks, mergers and acquisitions, and bankruptcy, among others. Some programs may also delve into subjects like corporate finance, international banking, and economics.
An LL.M. program in Banking/Finance/Securities Law can prepare grads for a variety of positions in the financial sector: some LL.M.s go on to work for law firms representing financial services companies; others go on to help individuals or corporations navigate the complex web of contracts and regulations. Additionally, an LL.M. in Banking or Finance can help for those looking to land a job as in-house counsel at a bank or another financial services firm, or even in a regulatory body.
See the top 10 Banking & Finance LL.M. programs below.
Intellectual Property (IP) Law
Intellectual property law—often just called “IP” law—serves to protect the rights of the people who have created artwork, or who own patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property. As you might imagine, the legal issues involved in this area can be thorny—especially in the age of the Internet, when artistic works are shared every day, sometimes legally, and sometimes not—and experienced IP lawyers are often needed to do everything from filing patent applications to drafting licensing agreements, and even defending trademark owners from infringement in court. An LL.M. program in Intellectual Property Law can help legal professionals get caught-up with current laws around patents, copyrights, and antitrust issues; some LL.M.s might even delve into specific fields where IP law applies, such as entertainment law. Fortunately, there are many career opportunities for a legal professional who has an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law. Indeed, there are entire law firms dedicated to IP law; jobs can also be found in the legal departments of non-legal firms that own or manage artistic works, technology, or other intellectual property.
The healthcare field and related industries are huge: globally, at least two trillion dollars are spent each year on healthcare, according to some estimates. The sheer size of the field means that it’s governed by a complex set of laws, protecting patients, doctors, patents on medical devices, and more. The scope also means that LL.M. programs in Health Law and Medical Law can cover a huge array of topics, from contracts to bioethics. Grads who have LL.M.s in Health Law might go on to a variety of different careers, for healthcare providers, medical insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, and more.
The European project offers a fascinating case study for LL.M. studies, looking at how the laws of European Union member states and those of their union intersect.
As common EU law increasingly permeates the law of individual member states, with legal integration a common goal, there are ample career opportunities for students doing LL.M. programs in European law. As if this area wasn’t already dynamic enough, the UK’s planned exit from the EU—“Brexit”—has thrown a spanner in the works, and European law scholars are right on the cutting edge, analyzing how European member states will negotiate its legal fallout. Those who pursue LL.M.s in EU law often head towards careers in European institutions – the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Central Bank – as well as roles in the commercial realm, in advocacy, management and academia.
US Tax Law
Taxation, and the laws that govern how it works, permeate the everyday lives of citizens all over the world. For lawyers in the US – as well as those based overseas whose practice touches on US tax laws – LL.M. programs in US Tax Law provide in-depth understanding and practical experience. An LL.M. in Taxation prepares graduates for working as tax specialists in law firms, in corporations wanting to plan and strategize their tax, in government and in academia. Other types of lawyers also work in response to tax policy: lawyers working in family law, property, finance, energy and healthcare can all benefit from specialized study in tax law.
International Tax Law
Globalization has created opportunities and challenges for the world’s international businesses, policymakers and governments. Taxing international dealings appropriately – and getting the best deal at the other end – has become a complicated task that demands experts in the field of international tax law. For those looking to comprehend how tax regimes around the world interact, LL.M.s in international taxation as well as related master’s degrees provide the opportunity to study how citizens, businesses and governments manage the challenges of international taxation. For those who pursue an LL.M. concentration in international tax law, careers in global corporations, policymaking, accountancy and government await.