What Does LLM Mean?

Many law students and legal practitioners know what an LLM is, but some who are new to the law have a simple question in mind when researching the various legal degrees: “What does LLM mean?”

LLM is an abbreviation derived from the Latin phrase, “Legum Magister,” which means “Master of Laws.” Much like the main legal degree, the Juris Doctor, an LLM takes its name from a Latin phrase. In addition to French and Greek, Latin was one of the foundational languages of Western thought and education, and many formal programs and titles retain Latin honorifics as a matter of tradition.

Thus, the answer to the question, “What does LLM mean?” is both “Legum Magister” (in Latin) and “Master of Laws” (in English).

What is an LLM?

An LLM is a one-year legal degree offered by a law school that is usually obtained in addition to other prior degrees (such as a J.D. or bachelor’s degree). Topics studied depend on the type of LLM sought.

Many LLM students are already attorneys in a particular country, and are seeking to understand the laws of another country. For example, a lawyer in Japan might seek anLLM in U.S. law (such as the @WashULaw online LLM in U.S. Law) in order to expand his or her practice abroad. The course of study would include classes in American legal research and writing, the structure of the U.S. legal system and basic topics like contracts, torts and more. Other LLM students will study a specialized topic area like taxation, securities or human rights law.

In short: What does LLM mean? Advanced legal education.

Why do people get LLMs?

LLM students seek the degree to pursue a variety of goals. Some students are focused on non-legal disciplines, but need a bit of legal knowledge to round out their expertise. For example, a healthcare administrator who needs a better understanding of the extensive regulations that exist with respect to the provision of medicine might obtain an LLM.

As stated above, other students are legal practitioners that are seeking to improve their knowledge of a specialty practice area. These students are generally seeking to improve their resumes, advance their careers and offer service to a specific client base.

Still more students are foreign practitioners looking to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of another country’s legal system. Many of the early LLM degrees offered in the world were of this type.

For foreign practitioners, the advantages of obtaining an LLM are many. The degree opens up new client bases and can help with career and practice development. An LLM can also, in certain jurisdictions (including some U.S. states), enable a student to sit for the bar exam. This means that obtaining an LLM can be a critical step on the path to becoming licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. Thus, the LLM can open up a world of practice opportunities without requiring an attorney to go through a lengthy legal education all over again.

Put another way: What does LLM mean? Professional development, expanded practice opportunities and new skills!