Five Careers You Can Pursue with an LL.M. Degree

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An advanced legal degree such as a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree can lead to a number of opportunities in the legal profession. Learn more about the following five specialty careers that professionals with LL.M. degrees can pursue.
A courtroom.

Judge: Oversee Legal Cases

Koen Lenaerts, a judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union, and Rohinton Fali Nariman, a senior counsel at the Supreme Court of India with more than 500 Supreme Court judgments to his name, are two prominent LL.M. degree holders who have used their degrees to become judges.

Judges oversee legal proceedings in court to apply and uphold the law, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS states that judges also manage pretrial hearings, resolve administrative disputes, help opposing parties negotiate agreements, and make decisions on legal matters.

In 2016, the BLS noted the median annual pay for judges and hearing officers, who perform a similar role, in the United States was $109,940.

Private Banker: Provide Customized Financial Services

The University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law states that its LL.M. degree program can help those in banking professions. While there are many types of careers available in banking, many LL.M.-degree graduates work as private bankers. Writing for Investopedia, economics expert J. William Carpenter observed that while employers typically hire private bankers with bachelor’s degrees in business disciplines, many seek experienced candidates with graduate degrees in mathematics, statistics, or law. An LL.M. degree, according to Carpenter, provides the knowledge base and covers relevant topics such as corporate and international investment law. Some students, such as those at the USC Gould School of Law, can also earn certificates in business law during their studies.

Carpenter noted that private bankers offer customized financial services for individuals, including defining investment goals and creating and executing personalized investment plans. Many private bankers also oversee other financial services including tax planning, trust, deposit and cash management, and credit and lending. Private bankers typically work in investment banks, wealth management firms, and the private banking divisions of large retail banks.

According to Payscale, since private bankers possess a range of qualifications, the salary spread is significant, with Payscale suggesting that private bankers can earn between $37,570 to $112,380. Bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing arrangements can increase the salary range to between $46,540 and $133,570.

Law Firm Partner: Share a Practice’s Success

An LL.M. degree can also benefit lawyers hoping to advance in their careers, as this graduate degree can help associates working in Big Law make partner. The LL.M. degree not only enhances a graduate’s resume, but also offers a thorough education in American law and a focus on practical problem solving and critical thinking. In this way, the advanced degree can help students build leadership skills, enjoy fluency with advanced legal terminology, and develop a superior sense of professionalism and ethics. Equipping oneself with this type of legal and leadership acumen is important for those who strive to be partners.

The legal industry has two types of partners: non-equity partners and equity partners. Non-equity partners can be thought of as equity partners in training. These individuals earn higher salaries than other attorneys, and a firm expects them to bring new business into the firm.

Equity partners may experience greater job security than non-equity partners. Equity partners are attorneys who have proven that they can perform at a consistently high level. Equity partners get invited to invest in their firms, an investment that gives them an ownership in the practice.

According to PayScale, the median salary for law firm partners in the United States stands at $179,953. Bonuses and profit-sharing agreements can significantly boost salaries to more than $400,000 a year.

Chief Executive Officer: Lead a Company Forward

Alternatively, graduates could emulate Michael I. Roth, chief executive officer of advertising and marketing firm Interpublic Group. Using experience gained through his LL.M. degree, Roth has made Interpublic Group a Fortune 500 company, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Becoming a chief executive officer can give legal studies graduates a varied, challenging, and diverse job. Chief executive officers can work in any industry, leading their companies forward through solid leadership and innovation.

Hiring people with legal degrees and experience is becoming increasingly common, according to Lisa Schencker of Modern Healthcare. Mark Madden, senior vice president of senior executive search at health care executive search firm B.E. Smith, noted, “(A law degree) sets them apart, but it also gives them information that can help them be a better resource for the organization and lead in a way that will give them deeper insight.”

Salaries for chief executive officers vary greatly according to their industry and firm, location, and experience, but the median average earnings stand at $166,548, according to PayScale. Some chief executive officers in the United States earn more than $400,000 a year including bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing arrangements.

Politician: Channel Your Sense of Justice

LL.M. degree holders may also choose to transition to a career in politics. This degree offers advanced knowledge that politicians can use when crafting and deploying new policy, and offers students a unique international perspective that can be help them succeed in a political environment.

Annette Lu, former vice president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), earned her Master of Laws degree in the United States. In her book “A Fight for a New Taiwan,” she detailed her work for gender equality, political reform, environmental preservation, and human rights. She may have honed her approach to these issues while working toward her degree.

Law may form a natural marriage to politics for many people since both fields focus on public service and the pursuit of justice and order.

A politician’s earnings depend largely on rank, location, and experience. Whatever position you aspire to, a background in law can only help you as you work toward it.

Where will an online Master of Laws degree take you? The USC Gould School of Law online Master of Laws program can prepare you for a number of exciting opportunities.

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