Earlier this week, the legal blogosphere took a look at the “value” of an LL.M degree. I put “value” in scare quotes because the main point of the pieces in the National Law Journal and the WSJ Law Blog was that we don’t really know how valuable these degree programs are.
Now, in most markets, not knowing whether or not something has value would kind of be a big deal. But when it comes to legal education, the inability to determine the value of the degree isn’t a problem.
Faced with a lack of information about how much the LL.M credential is worth, law schools are quite happy to charge as much as possible for it anyway….
We’ve had openthreads before about the value of the LLM degree. There’s always a big debate about whether the programs are worthwhile (though tax LLMs almost universally get big thumbs up from readers).
The question keeps coming up though. And now in a different context. If you’ve been laid off, or can’t find a job, is an LLM a good option? Here’s one query we received from a reader:
I am a recently laid off big law associate, who practiced tax. I am considering pursuing my tax LLM this fall. I have been accepted to both NYU and Georgetown. I have struggled over whether I should go back to school and “wait out the market.” Currently, there are few, if any, positions open in my specialty area. It would be very helpful to myself (and I am willing to bet – many others) if you could post an LLM thread.
So folks, here’s your chance to offer advice. If you don’t have a firm paying you $80,000 to go away for a year, should you shell out some cash to add a few more letters to the end of your title?
The reader also asks:
I would also like to specifically hear from commentors, what their view is of Georgetown’s Tax LLM program.
What are your thoughts on LLM degrees for U.S. law students? I’m considering an LLM program in Intellectual Property, to gain more experience and make myself more desirable for law firms. Do you have any advice whether this is a good idea or not?
We aren’t experts in the IP field. But as it turns out, the value of LLM degrees was the subject of a prior open thread, back in January. It was more focused on LLMs in tax, but there was some discussion of intellectual property:
“What if I want to teach? Can an LLM – but not in tax, probably in IP – help me?”
“[I] hear G.W. has a killer LLM in IP Law if you are interested in IP matters.”
“The down shot of an LLM in IP, especially if you are into patents, is that it is generally more advisable to spend the money you are considering on an LLM in IP on a Master’s or PhD in a science discipline instead.”
“An LLM will not help you get a job in IP. Period.”
“An LLM in IP isn’t going to help a wannabe patent litigator get a patent litigation job just like being a patent litigator will never make you a real patent attorney . . . unless you actually have a hard science background and can sit for the patent bar.”
Those thoughts were fairly general. We asked our source for more information about his specific circumstances:
I am a rising 3L at mid-30s school, and I’m in the middle of my class. My grades are improving, and I’m involved in extracurriculars like law journal and student organizations, but I still haven’t been able to get any attention from firms at OCI. My interests are trademark and copyright law, and I have considered getting an LLM IP to make myself more attractive to employers.
I’m wondering: What are the top IP LLM programs? Does someone with in my situation have a shot at being admitted to a top program? Would it even be worth it in the long term?
If you have information or opinions responsive to these questions, or if you have views on the value of LLM degrees in the IP world more generally, please share in the comments. Thanks. Earlier: The Value of an LLM Degree: Open Thread
Back in September, during our focus on non-top-tier law schools, there was some brief discussion over how much an LLM degree from a top program can help you in the job search if you graduated from a non-top law school.
Let’s return to that topic. Here’s an email we recently received, from a loyal reader of ATL:
I am emailing you to ask if you would do a thread about LLM programs. Specifically, I am a 2L at a top 25 law school, and I’m in the middle of my class. Every semester I improve my grades; however, I am still not in BigLaw range. I am thinking of getting an LLM in Tax from Georgetown, NYU, etc., and I was wondering about career prospects for people like me.
For example, would I be at a disadvantage come hiring time because I will have gone straight through from JD to LLM? Would I need to be in the top 10% of my LLM class? Do firms give progression / bonuses for people who get LLMs? Any other information would also be helpful.
This is a subject we’re not terribly familiar with, so we’ll turn these queries over to the readership. If you have information or advice to share with our correspondent, please do so in the comments. Thanks.
It seems that LLM students are an endless source of stories — and not just those continually squabbling Harvard LLMs. In advance of our upcoming visit to Columbia Law School, here’s an amusing little anecdote about LLMs at CLS:
I was amused to learn last semester that Columbia Law Professor John Coffee is a rock-star to LLMs. Last fall Coffee held a review session before his Securities Law final. The review session was your basic, bland review of the material covered. The session ended and the class did the customary applause. I stood up to leave, when I saw a few “LLM gunners” approach Professor Coffee. I assumed they were just going to ask him questions, but then I saw him pull out a pen and began signing their casebooks.
I practically fell to the floor laughing. I know Coffee is a Corporate God, but come on. Do you really get your Con Law book signed by Larry Tribe or your Admin book signed by Tom Merrill? Besides, how could you worship someone that turned to teaching only after he failed in becoming a partner at Cravath?
[Ed. note: That last sentence is merely the speculative opinion of our tipster. Another CLS source tells us, "There are some who claim that, but I don't believe there is any real basis for it."]
Coffee is an extremely colorful professor. You really should do a small piece on him and you’ll get some interesting stories.
If you have anything funny or interesting to share about Professor Coffee, please feel free to email us (subject line: “John Coffee”). Thanks.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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