For students considering pursuing an LLM, a big factor in deciding whether or not they can justify the cost of the degree is to look at how the program will affect their earning potential once they have completed it.
An LLM is a great way for both foreign and domestic attorneys to establish themselves as experts in their fields and increase their employ-ability and salary range regardless of previous employment history. Law firms and government agencies put a high premium on individuals who understand a particular area of law and have established themselves as subject-matter experts in that field. An LLM can increase your salary in a number of ways, including helping you land your first job, make more money at your current job or make a move to a new practice area and increase your earnings.
Land your first job.
An LLM can help you get your first job if you have recently graduated from law school and have not started working. Obtaining an LLM shows prospective employers that you are dedicated to a particular area of law and willing to put more work in than the average attorney. The additional knowledge obtained during your LLM can increase your salary as a first-time attorney and may allow you to bump into a higher pay scale than other first-year associates at your firm.
Make more money in your current job.
Obtaining an LLM can also allow you to increase your salary at your current job. Many employers appreciate the benefits that are associated with having an attorney with specialized knowledge on staff. Many firms will even help you obtain your LLM and will reward you with increased pay after you have completed it. As you are considering pursuing an LLM, ask your employer about starting an LLM program; you might be surprised at how much support you receive.
Move to a new area of law.
Many attorneys hesitate to switch practice areas after they have been working for a few years because they are afraid they will have to take a pay cut and start at the bottom at a new law firm. While the concern is understandable, studying for and completing an LLM can allow you to move into a new practice area and increase your pay at the same time. Selecting an LLM program in an area of law you would like to move into will give you an edge over other candidates, especially new attorneys. Your previous work experience, combined with the LLM, may prove to be an invaluable combination to your new employer. Don’t be afraid to take the leap!
While pay varies widely across practice areas and countries, an LLM is a great investment in your career. It can allow you to move into a new practice area while increasing your pay, help you land your first job or make more money at your current law firm. If there is an area of law that you want to learn more about, that passion can translate into increased earnings and job satisfaction. We encourage you to do the research to find the right LLM program and watch your career take off!