Mastering the Master Of Laws in the United States can be quite daunting and locating the right information to make life-changing choices often prooves difficult. I am hoping that my following posts on the entire application process up to the first day in school and beyond will shed some light on how it’s done.
I want to note that specific requirements vary from country to country, even from school to school. In this blog series I only write about LL.M. programs in the United States. I knew from the outset that I would only want to go to school in Los Angeles which is why I applied to UCLA and USC. The process for both schools is similar.
LL.M. Application Process
- Set up LSAC account: go through the website, read all infos that are crucial in order to complete the application:
The entire application process goes through LSAC, the Law School Admission Council. The platform is a pain and I’m simply glad to never have to deal with it again.
Once you read through all the pages on the website and grasp the application requirements, start preparing all the materials. It is imperative to start the application early on as there might be unforeseen circumstances that potentially prolong gathering all necessary documents within the application period.
I’d recommend to set up the account in October if you want to start in fall of the next year. It seems like a long time to plan ahead, but you simply want to avoid being in a time crunch. Since it is all handled through the platform, you won’t be able to get any deadline extensions or special treatments, no matter the reason.
- Check out LL.M. fairs:
If you aren’t quite certain which schools to apply to, there are LL.M. fairs held around October and November each year and it is worth checking whether there is one in your area to attend to. You will be able to meet the admission advisors who will answer your questions. It can be advantageous to reach out to them early in the process to create a connection and it provides a good opportunity to show them that you really would like to attend their school’s program.
- Get in touch with admission offices:
If you can’t attend an LL.M. fair or have additional questions, itcan be a good idea to contact the school’s admission office.
- Jump right into the preparing documentation:
Remember, sending out applications in fall is time sensitive as the holiday season glooms and you want to make sure to have everything in order beginning/mid December. I started contacting my referees right away and I wouldn’t wait later than November to ask for them. Everyone is busy and it doesn’t get any better before Christmas, so get started on the letters of recommendations!
- Have certificates sent to LSAC, that might take quite a while and allow for a week of time until they have processed your documents after receiving them.
Advise & Tipps For Writing A Better Application
- TOEFL waiver:
All schools require a TOEFL score in order to consider an application, those scores may vary depending on the school you’re applying to.
However, there might be a chance to ask for a waiver; I had already done a foreign exchange semester at UCLA so I was asking for the prerequisite to be waived. It worked!
- Cover letter:
Do your research on how to write those and proof read (!) it thoroughly. You need to have a theme throughout the entire document and explain why you would be a great fit for the school and what makes your story unique. Don’t use any generic templates or texts, it must be personal. Take your time with it, it’s important, especially if your grades aren’t the best, this can push your application to the top of the list.
The key here is to be specific. Let the professors or whoever you ask know what it is you’d like them to do, tell them your goals and provide as much information as possible so writing up the letter won’t take them too long. Be responsive and check in with them during the process.
- If you haven’t graduated in your home country yet that is not a problem. You can start the application process and simply send in the final confirmation of your law degree after you completed your study program.
- Final thought:
Research is a crucial part of the entire LL.M. application process. It takes a lot of time, energy and nerves to accomplish the entire degree, so make sure that is the right thing for you to pursue. Unless you really want to go down that path I wouldn’t recommend it, because it is costly and if you’re not convinced yourself you won’t get the most out of the experience either.
Good luck, now get started!