An LLM is typically for lawyers looking to progress their career to the next level, but not always. People from other walks of life may use an LLM to convert to law-focused career. This is particularly true for teaching or academic work.
Every year I coach many lawyers from top-tier firms, small companies or even NGOs. Here, I look at 5 key points for those who already have a law degree in Mexico and are weighing up whether to go for an LLM or not.
1) When to do an LLM?
In Mexico, an LLM is a natural step for lawyers with around 3-8 years of professional experience. Lawyers can gain significant experience to help move from ‘associate’ to ‘senior associate’.
Most LLM programs will show a preference for candidates with at least a few years of experience. This is also recommendable for you as a candidate. You will get more out of the experience when you have a reference point. Make sure you also read point 4 below.
2) USA or UK?
One common question I get from Mexican lawyers is whether to go to the USA or UK (the two most popular destinations). It is a tough question to answer and can depend on different factors. Both countries have top-ranked schools and a place on the global stage of law.
Mexico does have closer diplomatic ties with the USA than the UK. Moreover, many firms may choose to hire grads of well-known US schools. But, as a rule of thumb, the USA tends to be more expensive. I encourage applicants to look at schools both sides of the pond. The decision is best made on their professional, social and economic situation.
3) Which law school?
There are top-ranked schools, high-ranked schools and average ones. The one you will apply to depends somewhat on your academic and professional record. The top-tier schools will normally look for averages above 9-9.5 or even higher.
But, significant professional experience and success can compensate for this. Specialising in a certain area can dictate which schools to enter. The key is to target the right schools and those within realistic range. Reviewing entrance criteria and the success of colleagues can be useful.
4) General or specific?
Today there are many options to take LLMs with a speciality. There is business & finance, human rights, energy & natural resources, mergers & acquisitions and more.
Whether to take a general LLM or specialized one will depend a lot on your goals. In Mexico there are huge opportunities in the energy and human rights sectors. If this is what you truly want to do then it could be worth going for an LLM that allows you to specialise in these areas.
Nonetheless, general LLMs do also allow flexibility. For instance, Chicago’s LLM does include some modules from the business school. This means you can gain both business and legal experience at the same time. Such eclectic knowledge is very valuable in different industries.
5) Not an LLM at all?
An LLM is not always the option of choice for all lawyers. Today I see more and more of my clients opt to take a master’s degree in law or other areas. This is usually due to them wanting to use their law skills outside the legal profession.
I have seen lawyers apply for degrees in Finance, Business, Science and Social Studies. The key is to identify your goals and this will help you decide which is the best way forward. Many lawyers go on to successful careers in corporate businesses, start-ups and NGOs.
Ready to apply? Want more information?
Contact Coach Tom Scott @tomscottmex – firstname.lastname@example.org