David Murphy is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh having completed both his LLB and Diploma in Professional Legal Practice. This year he served as an Ordinary Tutor to undergraduate law students as well as the Student Director of the Free Legal Advice Centre. As a prospective LLM Candidate he looks forward to another year with the university before commencing his traineeship in 2017.
I recently received my LLM (Masters of Law) offer I was delighted at the prospect of a year of specialised study and also assured that I had made the right decision for me personally.
While I had initial reservations about pursuing further postgraduate study, (I had considered if it would be intrinsically better for me to get more practical experience before undertaking my traineeship) I felt as though there were many encouraging reasons for me to stay.
For those who may be wondering “What are the benefits of having an LLM degree?” I have briefly outlined what are, in my eyes, the most rewarding things about undertaking an LLM:
1. Specialist area of law
An LLM programme can be a valuable investment of your time as it allows you to develop a specialism. This may provide solicitors at the outset of their career with an academic edge over other candidates when applying for specific NQ positions, as well as providing senior solicitors/associates the means to migrate into another area of practice further down the line.
Furthermore, with many universities offering general LLMs in law, it’s entirely possible for you to hand pick your own specialism. So even if your interests don’t necessarily fit into one of the specialist degree programmes on offer, you have a great deal of freedom to create a tailored course of study (a privilege not so readily available in your undergraduate studies).
2. Personal and professional growth
Having an LLM goes beyond showing that you are accomplished in a specialist field. It also can help you to highlight other personal and professional characteristics that firms are always looking for in applicants – drive, tenacity, and self-direction.
3. International awareness
It has now become a familiar trope that traineeship applications call for their applicants to exhibit commercial awareness, but on top of this – for many large firms – there is a growing need for solicitors to be not only commercially aware, but also internationally aware.
Indeed, with many law firms regularly conducting work on a global platform, there is an ever increasing need for their solicitors both to possess international expertise and a global perspective. This is something that an LLM can offer!
For example, undertaking an LLM in international trade Law or global environmental Law could provide you with an academic edge when seeking mobility in the international market. Furthermore, those aspiring solicitors who choose to undertake an LLM abroad may further benefit from an increased sense of global awareness. This can be highly desirable as daily tasks in global law firms can often consist of dealing with international clients as well as working on transnational deals.
4. Expanding your network
One aspect that may be all too easily overlooked is that undertaking an LLM provides great networking potential. Whether you are studying a specialist discipline or studying at an entirely new university, in both instances you will find that you are able to connect with an additional set of academics, practitioners, alumni and also LLM students (i.e. potential future colleagues).
5. Greater platform
As some LLM programmes are largely research based, they encourage you to integrate with leading academic solicitors, and contribute to legal research. This could provide you with a platform to contribute to the Scottish legal community prior to undertaking your traineeship.
Equally, there’s nothing stopping you from publishing legal research whilst working in private practice. The legal profession is, after all, becoming an increasingly nuanced discipline, and it’s important to remember that good researchers can make for excellent solicitors.