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LL.M. Degrees: More Job Prospects, or Just More Letters?

Ah, the LL.M. degree. If you’ve ever gone to law school, you’ve cracked many a joke about the international students and their LL.M.’s. The Master of Laws degree is almost synonymous with a foreign student trying to get a degree that will give them a beachhead in the U.S.

And law schools are increasingly using it to entice more money out of already-indebted law students.

The American Prospect has a recent article about the growth of these programs, especially in the wake of a number of law schools being forced to cut faculty and salaries in order to maintain their bottom line. Law school applications continue to drop precipitously, and that makes it harder to attract qualified candidates. Schools need to leverage scholarships to keep their numbers up, eating into their profits.

So, many have turned to the trusty ol’ LL.M. degree to make some cash. Which really demonstrates their commitment to money over education.

Will the LL.M. help you get a job? Most likely it won’t (a Tax LL.M. from NYU being the one exception).

Law schools are preying on the previous generation’s view that more education is always a good thing. That generation is the one current students are turning to for advice. And, sadly, what worked for them no longer works.

Getting an LL.M. doesn’t demonstrate a mastery of law. It demonstrates a desperation to add letters to the end of your name, hoping to entice an employer to interview you. And it doesn’t work. Add to that the cost of tuition (which is usually the same as it was for a year of a JD), and those who go for LL.M.s are just digging themselves deeper into the hole.

So you might hear someone out there suggest you look to get an LL.M. to increase your job prospects. They would be wrong. Don’t spend $50K for a few letters; they’re not nearly worth that much.