Let me rephrase that…. Are you genuinely passionate about law school? In truth, they’re effectively the same question.
Maybe you’re a current JD here at NYU, or a potential applicant for NYU’s LLM program reading the blog for hints and tips. In either case, my recommendation is the same: if you love what you’re doing now, keep doing it. Being a student has more pros than cons, and you had damn well better ride the train as long as someone’s going to let you.
Over the first three months of the LLM program, we as a class have been fortunate enough to surround ourselves with some of the brightest legal academics and top lawyers from jurisdictions around the world. With each passing day, we’re drawn in more and more by the enticing nature of the Big Apple, but also by the stimulating and challenging conversations we have with our lecturers and with one another. The contacts we’ve made extend beyond the NYU sphere, exposing us to friends studying their LLMs (and of course JDs—please get to know us) at Columbia, Stanford, Cornell, Northwestern, and Harvard (among others). I think it’s safe to say on behalf of my classmates that there’s an infectiously outgoing persona to the LLM class. One may even choose to be cliché and dub it a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle.
But that’s just me elaborating about how much I’ve enjoyed my time here at NYU. So let me answer the question at the heart of this entry….
Should YOU do an LLM?
I’m not going to be so bold as to say that everyone should: that would be a lie. The crux of the matter is that everyone attends law school for different reasons. Some will love it, some will simply coast in an abyss until they walk off the stage on the other end, and some will remember every word they put on paper for the next few years. With that being said, there are few employers, if any, who will look at your CV with any less admiration if your academic section includes within it an LLM. In fact, I recently met an employer that included an LLM in its hiring criteria.
The degree is no longer what it was 10 or 15 years ago. Perhaps once designed for aspiring legal academics, the LLM today carries with it a substantial number of credible advantages: being able to see the world, meet new people, and even learn another language, “mis amigos”! Perhaps most importantly, though, it is a unique way to distinguish oneself in an increasingly competitive market.
I can of course speak only for myself, but when I say from experience that the last three months have presented me with numerous opportunities to pursue a career in an industry I find myself infinitely more drawn to, I do hope that you will take my word for it. An LLM opens doors, and an LLM from a jurisdiction different from that in which you pursued your first law degree, even more so.
Today, many of the top law firms from around the world* pride themselves on their global presence. Don’t believe me?
*This is in no way a representation of personal opinion as to the top law firms from around the world; rather, it is a random selection of the top 10 firms listed on Vault.com.
If such is the case, it’s hard to argue that having an educational background from more than one jurisdiction carries negative consequences. Associates and partners from around the world will all tell you that they continue to work on a global spectrum with each passing day. Whether it is a phone call from New York to the London office, or a red-eye flight from Shanghai to Paris, such is the world we live in today.
I will conclude by saying this: If you have a passion for law school, and you want to work on an international scale, an LLM can bring with it only advantages (besides, of course, delaying student debt repayments for one more year). You will be surrounded by some of the brightest, most ambitious, and most talented lawyers you will ever meet. You will only learn from each other. You will make friendships that will last a lifetime. And, of course, you will provide one another with clients in years to come (please).
If nothing else, I can say that it’s truly the most inspiring atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of. So with that, thank you to the NYU LLM class of 2015-16. Here’s to the year ahead.