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Is an LLM Worth It?
USC Gould School of Law

Friday, December 3, 2021

A Master of Laws (LLM) is a law degree that allows students to customize and specialize their education. LLMs give graduates access to international clients across numerous industries and the ability to practice law in new areas. Lawyers can benefit greatly from earning an LLM and expanding their possibilities.

To learn more, explore the infographic below, created by USC’s online Master of Laws (LLM) program.


The benefits of earning an LLM degree.

University of Southern California


Master of Laws

LLM stands for Legum Magister, or Master of Laws, and is an internationally recognized optional postgraduate law degree that allows practicing lawyers and other individuals with a law degree to specialize in a specific field of law.

Lawyers with an LLM gain advanced training and familiarity with multinational legal environments. LLM programs are designed for students from countries around the globe.

What Specializations and Concentrations Are Available?

Students may specialize in business law, cybersecurity law, entertainment law, financial regulations, health care law, human resources law, or privacy law, for example.

Depending on which specialization students choose, common LLM courses may include Constitutional Law, Business Organizations, Contract Drafting and Strategy, and Mergers and Acquisitions.

What Are the Typical Application Requirements for an LLM Program?

International students applying to an LLM program will need official transcripts from attended universities, a TOEFL or IELTS score, a resume, a personal statement or essay, recommendation letters, and a copy of their first law degree diploma earned outside of the U.S.

U.S. students will need to provide proof of a Juris Doctor (JD) degree or equivalent, official transcripts from all universities attended, a resume, a personal statement or essay, and recommendation letters.

At some U.S. law schools, the LLM degree is tailored to international students, while U.S. students earn legal certificates in specialized fields.

Benefits of Getting an LLM

Law firms may find lawyers with an LLM to be more desirable because of the depth of their knowledge. This could help lawyers advance their careers and pursue new roles with the specialized skills they developed in an LLM program. These skills include proficiency in legal research, expertise in all facets of the U.S. legal system, the ability to collaborate with other lawyers and a multicultural perspective of legal environments.

LLM graduates can also use their training in other fields, such as entrepreneurship, research, journalism, academics and philanthropy.

The demand for lawyers with a U.S.-based LLM degree is strong in international markets due to the globalized curriculum. In addition, having a firm grasp on both common law and civil law makes a lawyer more valuable.

Networking is a key benefit of getting an LLM, giving students the opportunity to meet a diverse cohort of lawyers who are working to build connections that can further their careers.

Lawyers who obtain an LLM can deepen or acquire a new specialization if their first law school didn’t offer a focus or if they’d like to shift their practice toward a different area of law.

Law firms also benefit from LLM credentials, as hiring lawyers with LLM degrees can help law firms enter new practice areas, expand internationally and find new clients.

LLM Careers

LLM graduates can pursue professional roles in a variety of areas, including business law, financial compliance and health care compliance.

General LLM Careers

LLM graduates have a wide range of career options to choose from, including attorney, banker, chief counsel, chief legal officer, corporate counsel, judge and government official.

Specialized Careers

Graduates who pursue coursework or certification in specialized fields may find employment in the following occupations: CEO, copyright lawyer, corporate attorney, entertainment attorney, trademark lawyer, director of regional affairs, financial manager, health care administrator, director of compliance, director of medical research compliance, regulatory affairs specialist, employment agency compliance manager, employment law attorney, human resources manager and senior human resources compliance specialist.

Median Annual Salaries

Lawyers working for the federal government earn a median annual salary of $152,220, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Lawyers at the state and local levels earn median annual salaries of $91,450 and $99,900, respectively. Attorneys providing legal services earn a median annual salary of $126,660.

The median annual salaries of other LLM careers are also quite lucrative, according to the BLS: judge or magistrate ($141,080), arbitrator or mediator ($66,130), financial manager ($134,180), human resources manager ($121,220), and CEO ($185,950).

Making a Decision

An LLM, or Master of Laws, is an optional degree for lawyers, but it provides opportunities and advantages. Lawyers who want to gain global knowledge, specialize in a high-growth field or change their practice area can pursue an LLM. Law firms who are interested in expansion and growth often look for candidates who have an LLM. Is an LLM worth it? Yes.


Georgetown Law, LL.M. FAQs

GoLLM Admissions Consultants, “Why an LLM Degree?”

Harvard Law School, LL.M. Admissions

Houston Chronicle, “How Much Does a Private Sector Lawyer Make?

Law School Admission Council, LLM Degree Programs

University of Southern California, Admissions

University of Southern California, Law and Compliance Certificates Curriculum

University of Southern California, LLM Curriculum

University of Southern California, Master of Laws (LLM) and Law and Compliance Certificates Career

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lawyers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook



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