Students sometimes ask me for advice on getting an LL.M degree in the United States. I’m happy to help out, because I think getting to know another country’s legal system is a fabulous idea. However, until now, I haven’t been able to recommend the students any books that give a good overview of the process. Now, two have recently come on the market.
I just received the book Der LL.M (The LL.M) in the mail. It was written by three young German lawyers who have had experience with various programs. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but it seems pretty thorough. Subjects covered: how an LL.M compares with other postgraduate programs; how to select an LL.M program; deciding which country to go to, and arranging financing. In addition, there are "experience reports" from people who have attended LL.M programs in the UK, South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, and the U.S. A section in the middle provides examples of CVs, letters of recommendation, and application essays.
The book closes with portraits of various large international law firms that often hire LL.Ms. I should note that the book includes advertising from some of these firms and its publication seems to have been co-sponsored by some of them. I doubt this affects the practical advice about LL.M programs, but — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it pays to do a lot of thinking before going to work for a large law firm, especially a large Anglo-American law firm. Some food for thought can be in this article (pdf), a shorter version of which is online here.
(Another recent book is by Thomas Lundmark, a professor at the University of Muenster. I’ll probably order it soon, and let you know what I think of the two books in comparison.)
And now I’ll leave you with the experience report of Stephan Schill, who got an LL.M from New York University Law School. In answer to the question how satisfied he was with his choice, he says:
The program at NYU fulfilled all of my expectations, not to say exceeded them. However, I was surprised that the course of study required a much larger investment of time than studying at a German university. The intellectual content is not necessarily higher, but the amount of time one must spend on reading books and cases and writing papers and short commentaries is significantly higher than in Germany. It’s also noticeable how strong the interdisciplinary component is both in study and in research. (p.133)