How to Choose your LLM Specialisation
Obtaining an LL.M. will give you expertise in a specific area of law. If you decide you might want to pursue a career in academia, it is a great stepping stone towards a Ph.D. Choosing an area to specialise in, however, can prove rather disconcerting and depends on a wide range of factors. Here are a few points to ponder over before settling down for one area to specialise in.
You must first consider what area of the law interests you most. It will be really important when you have to do hundreds and hundreds of pages of reading and writing. What area of the law are you particularly passionate about? This will also make it easier to get into a chosen LL.M. as your excitement for the course will transcend in your application.
Another important element to factor in is what your career aspirations might be. Undertaking an LLM cannot be an end-goal. It should remain a means to get you to whatever direction you are going into; even if that direction is simply educational curiosity.
It is also important to consider your strengths before choosing an LL.M.. Your Masters of Law will be no cake-walk. If you are choosing an area in which you excel, you will give yourself the best chances to succeed.
Obviously, the LL.M. you pick will necessarily be influenced by your choice of modules during your undergraduate course as well as the topic of your bachelor dissertation. It is important to have some knowledge, however superficial, in the area in which you wish to pursue further studies.
The location is also a key factor to consider when choosing an LL.M. specialization. Some universities may not be ranked very highly but could still have excellent programmes in certain areas of the law. What is more, if you are hoping to remain in the country in which you undertake an LL.M. to work, you should also take a look at where there are market needs and your expertise may be absorbed.
The way the course is structured and assessed is something to keep in mind as well. Are you hoping to gain practical or theoretical knowledge? You may be asked to participate in research to help a professor. This can provide interesting work experience and give you a little insight into what working in academia may be like.
The absolute faux-pas is to pick a specialization according to which topic is “attractive” at the moment. You must not let yourself be influenced by legal trends.
The best way to find out what specialty suits you best is to meet with professors, deans of admission and alumni. Attend open days or tours and ask as many questions as possible!
Find your LL.M. is hosting a Spring Tour in Paris, Brussels and Madrid. The event is entirely free and will be a chance to get your head around the topic of specialization and meet with some of the best universities worldwide.
Best of luck to all!