Some students after earning their J.D. degree prefer to go on to take the LL.M degree. Having a degree improves their credentials to obtain a law teaching position and also increases the likelihood of employment in a highly specialized field of law.
A number of law schools have LL.M programs designed primarily for holders of a foreign law degree. The law school offering the largest number of any type of LL.M program is New York University, with nine different programs.
George Washington, Georgetown, Golden Gate, Houston, John Marshall (in Chicago), Loyola-Chicago, Miami, Pacific (McGeorge), San Diego, Temple, Tulane, University of Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis are law schools offering more than five programs. In the United States, about half of all LL.M students are from countries outside the United States. Moreover, while many LL.M students from foreign countries return to their home countries, an increasing number seek to remain in the United States and become licensed to practice in the state.
However, it is important to note that in the United States, most states do not permit holders of a foreign law degree who have only an LL.M degree from a United States law school to take the bar examination and be admitted to practice in the United States. New York State is the most notable exception to the general practice of states, as New York does permit someone who holds only the LL.M degree to take the New York bar examination and be admitted to practice there. The most common subjects offered are taxation and international or comparative law, with subjects like banking, corporate and finance, health law, energy or environmental law and intellectual property also being reasonably common.
Other subjects offered by law schools for an LL.M degree includes dispute resolution, estate planning, government and public policy, indigenous law, labor and employment law, litigation and advocacy, real estate/land development and urban affairs.
Admission requirements for the LL.M degree vary from one school to another. It is generally not particularly difficult to obtain admission to most LL.M programs. However, most law schools do not offer any form of scholarship aid to LL.M students. Though an LL.M degree do not require a thesis of the type typically required for a PhD Degree (or an SJ.D.), it does require a substantial paper. Typically 24 credit hours of instruction will be required, so an LL.M can be completed in one year.