What Is an LLM? (With 11 Job Titles and Average Salaries)

Updated February 15, 2023

There are several career paths to choose from as a lawyer, so selecting a specialization can help you advance your career in your chosen field. Legal professionals can pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) degree when they want to specialize in a particular field. By learning more about LLM degrees, you can decide whether you want to pursue this academic qualification to advance your career. In this article, we discuss the definition of LLM, explore how to earn an LLM, explore the differences between LLM and JD degrees, and share the various job options you can explore with an LLM qualification.

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What is an LLM?

If you want to advance in your law career, you may wonder "What is an LLM?" This post-graduate degree provides you with the opportunity to specialize in an area of law if you already have a law degree. LLM, otherwise called a Master of Laws, can provide you with the opportunity to teach, work in professional research, or develop policies. You can expect an LLM to take approximately one year to complete, and they typically focus on research and coursework.

These degrees are useful if you want to expand your knowledge in specific fields. If you want to apply to a company that provides specialized legal services, an LLM is beneficial. Here's a list of the fields in which you can specialize:

  • Agriculture or food law

  • Arbitration

  • Bankruptcy

  • Constitutional law

  • Elder law

  • Estate planning

  • Environmental law

  • Global health law

  • Human rights law

  • International taxation

  • Intellectual property law

  • Information privacy and cyber security law

  • Maritime law

How to obtain an LLM

Here's a guide to help you obtain your LLM:

1. Complete a law degree

The first step toward obtaining an LLM is completing an undergraduate degree in a related field. Following this, students typically complete a Juris Doctor (JD), which is an undergraduate degree that is requires three years of full-time study. You can complete either a Juris Doctor (JD) or a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Some universities, like the University of Victoria, require an average of B+ to qualify for admission. Every university has different requirements, so it's beneficial to consider the university to which you want to apply.

Related: 7 Degrees for Lawyers (With Step-by-Step Guide and FAQs)

2. Consider your specialty

Next, you may want to consider the specialty for your degree, and how it can contribute to your career goals. For example, if you want to work in environmental law, you may want to consider an environmental focus for your specialty during your LLM. It's beneficial to review how different specialties can impact your career, and which specialities you require to work in your chosen field.

3. Consider internship

When attending university, you can choose to attend school part-time to complete an internship. Some universities provide students with the opportunities to complete internships for class credits. This can require additional permissions from academic advisors, or can require you to extend your degree to make time for your internship. You may also consider an internship following the completion of your studies.

When to consider an LLM degree

Professionals who wonder, "What is an LLM?" also benefit from knowing when to consider pursuing this type of degree. Here's a list of the reasons associated with obtaining an LLM degree:

  • Existing degrees: If you have an existing degree in law from another country and want to gain insight into Canadian laws and policies, you may want to consider an LLM degree.

  • Career advancement: You can earn an LLM degree for more career advancement opportunities because you can use these degrees to specialize in your field and obtain a higher-paying position.

  • Professional development: LLM degrees provide you with the opportunity to gain specialized technical skills in the law sector.

LLM degree vs. JD degree

JD degrees, otherwise called Juris Doctor, differ from LLM degrees because they're three-year undergraduate degrees. These are first-level degrees, and you typically learn subjects like criminal law, constitutional law, and property law. Some students also complete a Bachelor of Law (BCL) degree, which all provinces recognize as a law degree. If you want to succeed in a law career, you may benefit from completing your JD degree, followed by a graduate degree in law. You can then complete an LLM degree to obtain a specialization in a particular field of law.

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Career options to pursue with a Master of Laws

Here's a list of career options for those with a Master of Laws degree:

1. Corporate lawyer

National average salary: $127,033 per year

Primary duties: Corporate lawyers prepare legal documents for their clients and help ensure that a company's transactions comply with corporate laws and regulations. These professionals typically work as members of a company's legal team to help with the assessment of partnerships and negotiate deal. Corporate lawyers represent their employers and clients during legal proceedings and help with the design of company policies to protect them against risks. They review legal issues that arise in correlation with products and services.

2. Prosecutor

National average salary: $116,940 per year

Primary duties: Prosecutors represent clients in court on behalf of the federal government, typically providing legal advice to law enforcement. These professionals interview witnesses, work with police officers, and help ensure the preparation of criminal cases. They also remain updated about legislation that impacts court proceedings, their clients, and the victims of crimes.

3. Paralegal

National average salary: $58,347 per year

Primary duties: Paralegals maintain regular communication between lawyers and clients and conduct extensive research for cases. These professionals also locate and interview witnesses, conduct investigations, and fact-check information. They write extensive legal documents and summarize testimonies and depositions. They help lawyers with planning and developing cases and retrieving information. Paralegals provide lawyers with recommendations for cases and compile the information required for trials. When required, they may conduct documentary research, along with research for precedence.

Related: How to Become a Paralegal in Canada in 7 Steps (With Skills)

4. Mediator

National average salary: $65,041 per year

Primary duties: Mediators facilitate communication between various members of a conversation or conflict. Mediation sessions typically occur during appointments, and they aim to resolve issues between the two parties. For example, clients experiencing divorce can require a mediation session. These professionals arrange meetings between parties, together with follow-up meetings, that allow them to obtain information about the success of the session. Mediators often work with legal conflicts, establishing rules for the members of those meetings.

During the first meeting, mediators might ask all members of the mediation to sign paperwork that confirms the framework and rules. Mediators then provide the clients with the opportunity to express their viewpoint and perspective regarding the situation, along with a brief description of their goals.

5. Probation officer

National average salary: $79,237 per year

Primary duties: Probation officers work with individuals recently released from prison to help ensure they follow various local and national laws. These professionals conduct interviews with probationers and their family members to determine the progress made by these individuals. They also help probationers find employment and housing following their release. Probation officers may also provide probationers with psychosocial support and counselling. When required, these professionals can facilitate support groups and prepare case files. They maintain accurate records concerning probationers to help ensure they have a holistic understanding of their progress.

6. Policy analyst

National average salary: $68,322 per year

Primary duties: Policy analysts collect and analyze information that helps them develop reports. These professionals create health policies by reviewing statistical data and designing programs surrounding health policies. They also develop solutions for potential health issues in communities and analyze the potential impact of other policies and health proposals. When health issues arise in communities, these professionals analyze these health concerns and their relation to policies.

Related: Public Policy Careers: Essential Skills and Jobs List

7. Legislative assistant

National average salary: $74,920 per year

Primary duties: Legislative assistants are advocates for constituents when during discussions with politicians and legislative officials. These professionals consider citizens when drafting legislation for review and consulting with politicians. They also collaborate with constituent assistants. Legislative assistants manage citizen inquiries to help with the resolution of issues and to address questions or concerns. They often manage paperwork and schedules for their supervisors.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring experience and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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