Types of LLM Degrees

llm degree types

Type of LLM: Tax
Description: This LLM in designed for the practice of tax law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Tax lawyers are employed by large law and accounting firms, by government agencies such as the IRS Office of Chief Counsel and by state tax agencies. The degree also qualifies a lawyer to clerk for the U.S. Tax Court. A tax LLM will also allow a graduate to become a full-time law instructor.
Case Study: In 2006, actor Wesley Snipes was charged with failing to file federal income tax returns for several years. Snipes faced up to 16 years in prison if found guilty on all felony counts. Tax attorney Robert Bernhoft successfully defended Snipes by portraying him as a victim of bad advice. Snipes was acquitted on all major felony counts and found guilty of several lesser charges. He was sentenced to three years in prison and is currently serving his sentence.

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Type of LLM: Bankruptcy
Description: This LLM covers the specifics of bankruptcy law and the interrelationship between bankruptcy and other financial areas of law, including taxation, real estate and securities.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Graduates of bankruptcy LLM programs are qualified to practice as bankruptcy attorneys and to serve as members of multidisciplinary teams working on complex bankruptcy cases. They may also serve as judicial clerks or become full-time academics.
Case Study: Doris Panos Designs, a supplier of couture jewelry to high-end retail stores like Neiman Marcus, retained the services of bankruptcy attorney Thaler Gertler in 2009. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Gertler negotiated a sale of inventory that allowed the business to pay off secured debt, proposed a restructuring plan and suggested that the business expand to different markets. The business was able to come out of bankruptcy and continue operations.

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Type of LLM: Banking/Financial Services
Description: This LLM focuses on legal issues related to major financial transaction.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: This LLM allows lawyers to assume leadership positions in the banking and financial services industries as well as in law firms and government agencies.
Case Study: In September of 2008, the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America made the bank the largest wealth management corporation in the world. The acquisition was finalized on an emergency basis, with due diligence and board approval from both companies completed in a matter of days. Before the deal was approved by the Federal Reserve, Bank of America learned that Merrill Lynch was accruing enormous losses from its investment in toxic assets. Despite this situation, the acquisition was finalized on Jan. 1, 2009 following a series of complex negotiations and pressure from the federal government.

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Type of LLM: U.S. Law (for Foreign Attorneys)
Description: This LLM is frequently a state bar prerequisite for lawyers who were educated outside of the United States. It is also earned by foreign attorneys who are interested in adding to their knowledge of U.S. law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: This LLM allows lawyers to sit for the bar exam in particular states, like California or New York, without earning a JD in this country. Successfully passing a U.S. bar exam helps lawyers advance their careers. Foreign lawyers who are planning an academic career often earn this LLM degree because of the high level of academic excellence offered by U.S. law schools.
Case Study: In 2011, The National Jurist recently profiled Kiyoshi Tsuru, one of Mexico’s top experts in software patents. Tsuru holds a law degree from Universidad Iberoamericana as well as a U.S. LLM from George Washington University Law School. His LLM degree allowed him to open his own law firm and work on cases involving top technology companies, like Microsoft and Yahoo! He often uses U.S. case law in his arguments.

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Type of LLM: Environmental
Description: This LLM prepares lawyers to practice, teach or create policy in the environmental and natural resources fields of law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Graduates of Environmental LLM programs are qualified to work for private law firms, government agencies, non-profits and international environmental organizations. Some graduates choose careers as full-time teachers in colleges and law schools.
Case Study: In June of 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut (AEP), ruling that states cannot use federal common laws to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. The ruling left open several questions about liability for damages caused by climate change, including whether climate change victims can sue for power companies for damages. The issues are expected to be the subject of further litigation.

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Type of LLM: Commercial/Corporate
Description: This LLM focuses on business and trade in the context of the U.S. legal, tax and regulatory systems.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: This LLM qualifies graduates to work in law firms that specialize in commercial law or to pursue a career as a commercial law instructor.
Case Study: In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission sued Intel Corporation, the world’s largest computer chip maker, for using its dominant market position to strengthen its monopoly and stifle competition. The case was settled with Intel agreeing to drop some of its anti-competitive tactics, such as granting benefits to computer makers who agree not to buy chips from competing companies.

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Type of LLM: International
Description: This LLM trains lawyers in international law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Graduates of International LLM programs are prepared to work in private law firms or for international, government and non-government organizations, such as the World Bank, the United Nations, the World Wildlife Fund and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights.
Case Study: The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident in 1986 left the Soviet Union open to a flood of litigation. The global community soon discovered that international law would make enforcement and collection for any judgments against the Soviets nearly impossible. The provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage were subsequently adjusted to strengthen the nuclear liability regime and improve the situation for victims of nuclear accidents.

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Type of LLM: Constitutional
Description: Since most JD degrees provide extensive training in legal aspects of U.S. constitutional law, this LLM is popular with graduates of foreign law schools who want an intensive overview of the American legal system. U.S.-educated lawyers who want to raise their level of expertise in constitutional law may also choose to earn this degree.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: A strong background in constitutional law is useful for lawyers who handle a broad range of cases involving civil rights. They may be employed by private law firms and civil rights organizations, or they may become part of the U.S. court system.
Case Study: When the Michigan State Police initiated a sobriety checkpoint program in 1986 aimed at getting drunk drivers off the road, a driver named Rick Sitz challenged the checkpoints as a violation of his Forth Amendment right to privacy. Following a ruling in favor of Sitz by a lower court, the case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court’s ruling on the grounds that the checkpoints represented a reasonable search in the interest of the general public.

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Type of LLM: Human Rights
Description: This LLM provides a foundation in international human rights law and international criminal law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Lawyers who specialize in legal issues related to human rights may work for national or international government or non-government organizations.
Case Study: In 2012, ACLU attorneys intervened on the side of the Department of Justice in an effort to block a new Texas voter ID law. A U.S. District Court ruled that the Texas law violates the federal Voting Rights Act and discriminates against minorities.

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Type of LLM: European Law
Description: This LLM, which is mostly offered by European law schools, focuses on the legal environment of the European Union.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: Lawyers who want to work for international law firms and European institutions can increase their employment opportunities with this degree.
Case Study: In 2007, the European Commission formulated and enacted regulations that limited mobile phone roaming charges between the 27 member countries of the European Union. The new regulation put a cap on the cost of a mobile call made anywhere in the European Union. Previously, there were huge differences in the charges depending on the provider and country.

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Type of LLM: Intellectual Property
Description: This LLM allows lawyers to specialize in intellectual property law and legal issues related to patents, copyrights and trademarks.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: The rapid rate of technological advancement has led to a high demand for lawyers who have a strong foundation in intellectual property law. The majority of intellectual property lawyers work in the field of patent law.
Case Study: In 2012, Apple Inc. was awarded $1 billion in damages in its suit against Samsung for copying its intellectual property. Included in the suit were broad design patents for rectangular electronic devices, including tablet computers and smartphones.

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Type of LLM: Information Technology
Description: This LLM provides expertise in legal issues related to information technology including e-commerce, online privacy, cyber crime and Internet law.
Average Length of Program: One year full-time study, two to four years part-time.
Career Opportunities: In addition to working for law firms, technology lawyers can find employment as legal consultants for technology companies and as intellectual property and patent attorneys.
Case Study: Thomas Dart, sheriff of Cook County in Illinois, filed suit in 2009 against Craigslist. Dart v. Craigslist alleged that the classified ad website’s erotic services section facilitated prostitution. A U.S. District Court ruled that Craigslist was an online service provider and therefore immune from prosecution for crimes committed by its users.

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