What it takes to get in
The majority of LLM programs require applicants to already have a law degree (an LLB or equivalent law degree). There are some exceptions to this, but in most cases an undergraduate degree or broad experience in a related area is still essential. Additionally, most universities will want to see the applicants’ academic transcripts and letters of recommendation offered by the law school or university faculty. Applicants to English speaking schools will have to show English aptitude by completing satisfactory TOEFL or ILETS test scores and application essays.
LLM Admissions policies vary from country to country. Below are some examples.
There is uniqueness about LLM Admissions criteria for programs in the United States.
Admission to an LLM program at an ABA-accredited school requires a law degree—usually a J.D., or otherwise LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) degree if the lawyer was educated in a commonwealth country which awards such degrees.
Generally speaking, there are two types of LLM programs in the U.S. Less common are programs concerning post-doctoral study of a specialized area of the law, for instance, Admiralty, Tax Law, Elder Law or Aeronautical Law. The majority are programs intended to acquaint foreign legal students to the American Common Law.
An LLM degree from an ABA-approved law school also allows a foreign lawyer to become eligible to apply for admission to the bar (license to practice) in some states, for example New York. Different states have special rules concerning admittance of foreign-educated lawyers to state bar associations.
In New York State, foreign lawyers from civil law countries are permitted to sit for the New York bar exam once they have concluded a minimum of 20 credit hours (typically but not essentially in an LLM program) at a law school (ABA-approved) involving at least two basic subjects tested on the New York bar exam. In general, lawyers from common law jurisdictions do not need to study at an ABA-approved law school. Foreign lawyers from both civil law and common law countries, however, are required to show that they have successfully fulfilled a course of law studies of at least three years that would complete the educational requirements to bar admission in their country.
In California, as long as students have completed an LLM in comparative law from an ABA-approved law school they are allowed to sit for the state bar exam even though they do not have a three-year law degree from the United States.
Note: Only a small percentage of U.S. qualified lawyers ever go on to earn a LLM It is also good to keep in mind that some US law schools do not allow US law graduates to participate in their LLM programs—they are offered only to foreign students.
LLM United States
In Australia, LLM Admissions are generally open to law graduates. Yet, while most of the applicants who register are legal practitioners, this is not a precondition for LLM Admissions.
In the UK, the LLM Admissions process is such that most programs are available to those possessing a standard legal qualification, generally an undergraduate degree in Laws or a Common Professional Examination. An LLM is not a sufficient requirement in itself to practice law as a solicitor or a barrister.
Again, as stated above, some schools allow those without a legal education into their LLM program; however there are still minimum educational prerequisites, such as an undergraduate degree, or verification of considerable professional experience in a related area.
LLM United Kingdom