So How do LLMs Get Jobs Anyway?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a one-stop shop for LLM graduates to get jobs, say, an LLMjobs.com or an ultimate LLM job fair? As any LLM job seeker knows, however, the reality is not quite so simple. The truth about LLM hiring is that it is much less straightforward than JD hiring. But don’t despair yet; while finding jobs as an LLM student may require more digging, it’s certainly not impossible, and the good news is that there are multiple avenues for you to explore. Here are some tips to get you started on the sometimes murky yet rewarding path from LLM job seeker to hired LLM graduate.
Go to Your School’s Career Services Office
The easiest way to begin looking for jobs as an LLM student is to exhaust the resources of your school’s Career Services or Development office. This should be the first stop on this journey, simply because these resources and people are there for the explicit purpose of helping you. Nearly every school career office maintains an online database of job postings which you can view and apply to. The advantage of these online job databases is that the employers who reach out to your school to post job openings typically already have some sort of connection with your school and have expressed an interest in applicants from your school. Typically, law school career services offices will also have some form of specific programming for LLM students, such as career planning brochures and events, to help you undertake your job search. Some schools even employ LLM Counselors specifically for students in their LLM programs.
International Law Firms Want You
International law firms are one of the few employers that target recruiting towards LLM students (some even see LLM students during OCIs). Research firms that practice in the country you’d like to be practicing in and which have departments relevant to your expertise. If you are a Belgian Tax LLM student, research firms with strong Tax Departments in Belgium. You can apply to these positions either online or through job fairs, which brings us to our next point…
Register for Job Fairs
A big reason why JD hiring is more straightforward than LLM hiring is that the majority of JD students are hired through on-campus interviews, or OCIs, where law firms visit particular schools for the purpose of recruitment. There is no real equivalent OCI process for LLM students. The next best thing, however, is job fairs. The two best known LLM job fairs are the International Student Interview Program, more commonly known as the NYU LLM Job Fair, and the West Coast International LLM Job Fair. The way these job fairs work is that employers from corporations, law firms, government and nonprofit organizations (among others) who register to attend receive and browse resumes from students who have also registered, pick the candidates they’d like to interview, and then schedule these interviews for the job fairs months in advance. The NYU Job Fair is in January, though the 150 plus employers from all around the world who register by September of the previous year and make two rounds of selections for interview requests. Registration for the event for students opens in July of the previous year. Participation in these fairs, and access to the attending employers, is restricted to students who attend the schools which are sponsoring the consortium. A total of 32 law schools participate in the NYU Job Fair, allowing nearly 1,600 applicants from more than 75 countries the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs with these employers. The West Coast International LLM Job Fair is similarly structured and is hosted and organized by UCLA, with 19 participating schools.
LLM students at certain schools are also typically welcome to attend other job fairs which are open to all law students, not just JDs, such as the EqualJusticeWorks Career Fair and the Public Interest Career Fair. Many schools often have their own campus fairs for students as well, to which they invite various employers and recruiters from a range of industries.
Learn the Value of Networking
While it is true that many jobs are posted online, stepping away from the computer for some face-to-face time can actually help your job search more than you think. The majority of jobs for LLM students and graduates are actually found through connections and networking (this is particularly true for employers outside of the large law firms, such as smaller regional law firms, corporations, and government, nonprofit, and non-government employers). According to Georgetown Law Career Services, 80% of available positions are not publicly advertised. So how do you excavate these hidden job opportunities? Milk your connections; this means exploring personal avenues such as advertising your job search to friends and family, but more importantly, building a network of professional contacts. School alumni networks are a great place to start, and schools know this, which is why they often host networking events for current students to meet alumni and maintain databases of current alumni. If an alumnus of your school is working at a specific firm in your home country, or at an organization in the U.S. where you were thinking of applying to for a job, getting in contact with him or her can allow you to become introduced to employees at the company and potential opportunities there. Schools also host networking receptions with employers and employees in specific practice areas or legal fields, such as public interest or intellectual property law. Simply attending these events, mingling a little, and handing out your business card to several people can go a long way. Joining bar associations and professional associations, maintaining connections with professors and fellow students, and former colleagues and supervisors at internships, are also wise ways to stay privy to the opportunities which may be lurking out there just waiting to be filled by a qualified LLM candidate like you.
Your Degree Isn’t Everything
Today’s expanding job market means that there is a variety of educational paths which can lead to almost any career. So while you may be frustrated by the lack of job postings which specifically advertise that an LLM degree is an educational requirement for all applicants, remember that your degree can, for the most part, only qualify, rather than disqualify you. An LLM degree in human rights will certainly be an educational asset to you while applying for a position as a United Nations Human Rights Officer, though the job description will not necessarily advertise that an LLM degree is required to apply. That’s not to say that you don’t need your LLM degree at all, but remember that your degree, rather than a hoop you only jumped through as part of the laid-out path to a specific job title, is only part of you as a complete package. Along with your internship, work, and personal experiences, knowledge base, and skill sets, your LLM degree is one of many assets which you as an applicant bring to the table.