A couple of days ago, we talked about how law schools are trying to increase revenue by offering “master of laws” degrees of questionable value. These programs are just the latest attempts by law schools to charge people for something without assessing their value in the marketplace for jobs.
The more traditional way for law schools to jack revenue out of students who want “extra” credentials is to offer LL.M. programs. We’ve talked about the low value of these programs before. In fairness, there are a couple of useful LL.M. programs. If you can match the degree with a specific employer who wants it, some programs can help. Note: you’ll want to ask the employer if it’s worth it for you to get the LL.M., not the law school administrator trying to get you to sign up and cut them a check.
But one of the scam bloggers has put together a list of LL.M. programs that you should almost certainly avoid at all costs. That seems more useful than arguing whether NYU or Georgetown has a better tax LL.M. program….
Here are the top (or “bottom,” if you will) most ridiculous LL.M. programs, according to the simply named “Law School Scam!” website:
1. Nebraska’s Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law LLM
2. Ohio Northern’s Democratic Governance / Loyola-Chicago’s Rule of Law/PROLAW LLM (tie)
3. Michigan State’s Global Food Law LLM
4. New Hampshire’s Masters/LLM offered in International Criminal Law and Justice
5. St. Thomas of Florida’s LLM in Intercultural Human Rights
6. Lewis & Clark’s Animal Law LLM
7. The 50+ law schools that offer comparative or international law LLMs. (tie)
8. St. John’s Sports Law LLM
9. Southwestern’s Entertainment and Media Law LLM
10. Arizona State’s Biotechnology and Genomics LLM
Click over to the Law School Scam! site to see the next ten programs, along with on-point descriptions of the programs. For instance, here’s what they say of the oft-mocked Michigan State Food Law program:
Surely this qualifies you to be manager at all sorts of global food conglomerates like McDonalds and Starbucks. It’s like Arkansas’s, but it’s gone global.
To be clear, I think pretty much all LL.M. programs are a waste of time and money. I’ve not seen any stats, any hard evidence, gathered by any independent third party that speaks to the LL.M.’s value in terms of job prospects and future earnings. If you do want to be an in-house lawyer for, say, YUM Brands, I could see a Michigan State Food Law LL.M. being marginally useful. But I don’t see any stats showing that YUM or anybody else actually values people with Food Law LL.M.s. In fact, I see no evidence that food brands who hire lawyers even know what a Food Law LL.M. is.
At least LL.M.s in things that are real, insular practices of law have a chance of catching an employer’s eye. That’s why tax LL.M.s from good schools are generally respected. You can see how sports or entertainment legal employers might view specialized training as a plus (again, that’s a guess, not a fact). But the LL.M.s in things that are not really things seem like the dumbest things in a law school.
“Intercultural Human Rights”?? “Biotechnology and Genomics”?? These aren’t discrete areas of law requiring specialized knowledge, these are cool humanities courses you take in college. I’m not saying there aren’t interesting legal issues in these fields, but the thought that you’d need a year of intensive training to get a biotechnology company as a client suggests a fundamentally poor understanding of how employers think and how lawyers make a living.
Put it like this: I’m sure the most recent hire at Cravath could become an “intercultural human rights” expert in two weeks if a client needed her to be.
But, I’d like to think I’m preaching to the choir. If you are tuned in enough to be reading Above the Law, you should be well beyond the temptation to waste thousands of dollars getting a fourth year of education without a clear job in mind. That’s one lesson you should be able to learn through law school.
The Top 20 LLM Programs in America [Law School Scam!]