“Will the (foreign) LL.M. get me a job abroad?”

This is probably one of the most common questions I have been asked at Amicus Partners; another being whether the LL.M. will improve one’s employment opportunities within India.

Both are questions that I am unable to, and will probably continue to be unable to, answer with any real degree of accuracy. The fact of the matter is that employment is not a linear process, especially in the field of law. Add in variables such as what amounts to “employment” (unpaid internships for example) the state of the (foreign country’s) economy, visa regulations, emerging (and fading) fields of practice, networking opportunities (offered and taken) etc and you can see why an accurate answer is hard to find.

To this, add the lack of data. For instance, in the US, law schools are not mandated by the ABA to disclose recruitment data for the LL.M. cohort, only for the JD. 

And what really compounds matters is the reliance on anecdotal “data” In other words, someone you know (or who knows someone else) who landed a job after completing an LL.M. from so and so school. This, in my view, is probably the most dangerous aspect of the decision-making process. 

So, coming back full circle, does a foreign LL.M. lead to automatic employment abroad?

It might. It might not.

What might help is this analysis of data relating to seven of the most popular law schools for the Indian law graduate who pursued an LL.M. abroad. More specifically, Indian law graduates who completed an LL.M. abroad between 2010 and 2020.

Do note that this data is largely sourced from LinkedIn, and is certainly not an exhaustive list of Indian LL.M. graduates. It is my hope, however, that this does help provide some insights into just what happens after the foreign LL.M. 

Without further ado, let’s get to the law schools in question.

Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School | HLS Facebook page

Considered to be one of the best law schools in the world, Harvard Law School has attracted Indian law graduates for a very long time. One Indian lawyer described the HLS LL.M. as  a “terrific learning experience“, another said it was, “more than a degree“.

In the past decade, at least forty-nine Indian law graduates have completed the general LL.M. from HLS of which 17 (35%) are working abroad. One of the oldest HLS graduates is Zia Mody who went on to co-found AZB & Partners after completing her LL.M. in 1979. In fact, AZB has another US LL.M. connection (see Columbia Law School below)

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020)

  • Average work experience: 2.5 years
  • Maximum work experience: 7 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 35 out of 49 are from NLUs

New York University School of Law

NYU School of Law
NYU School of Law | Image Source

Traditionally known for the Tax Law LL.M., this law school has been one of the most popular East Coast destinations for the Indian law graduate. Previous LL.M. graduates have held the arbitration course in high regard,  and also the academically vibrant culture of the law school. Over the last decade, at least forty-seven Indian law graduates have completed an LL.M. from NYU, of which 14 (30%) are working outside the country. 

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020)

  • Average work experience: 2.3 years
  • Maximum work experience: 8 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 23 out of 47 are from NLUS

Columbia Law School

Columbia University
Columbia University | Columbia Law School

With a stellar reputation and high brand value, not to mention the location, Columbia Law School attracts a fair number of Indian law graduates. The past ten years has seen at least forty-one law graduates from India attending the Columbia Law School LL.M. Of these, 16 (40%) are working abroad at the moment. An interesting nugget here is that Columbia Law School was also the preferred choice of Bahram Vakil, who went on to co-found AZB & Partners. 

Indian L.L.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020) 

  • Average work experience: 2.7 years
  • Maximum work experience: 7 years
  • Minimum work experience:  1 years
  • 27 out of 41 are from NLUS

The National University of Singapore 

NUS Law
National University of Singapore | Image by NUS

By far, the most popular Asian law school for the Indian law graduate, NUS offers a number of advantages over her UK/US counterparts. Some NUS graduates have appreciated the status of Singapore as an arbitration hub, others the “course structure and faculty” And, as we wrote in this column, the stellar faculty is something that will continue to draw international lawyers to the university. 

Of the forty-four graduates in the last decade, 8 (18%) are working abroad at the moment. 

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020)

  • Average work experience: 1.8 years
  • Maximum work experience: 7 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 18 out of 44 are from NLUs

The London School of Economics and Political Science

London School of Economics
LSE | Image source

The LSE remains one of the most favoured destinations this side of the pond when it comes to the Indian law graduate. LSE graduates have been attracted by the “strong emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of law“, the attention given to the “practical aspects” of legal practice as well as high levels of “flexibility in course selection

The data collected thus far shows that a minimum of thirty-three Indian law grads completed an LL.M. from the LSE over the past decade. Of this six (18%) are currently working outside the country.

Interestingly enough, one the oldest profiles I came across was that of Dr. Sarbani Sen (LLM ’87) who then went on to study at Yale Law School, and is currently teaching at Jindal Law School. 

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020) 

  • Average work experience: Less than a year (0.9 years)
  • Maximum work experience: 5 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 16 out of 33 are from NLUS

University of Oxford (BCL)

University of Oxford
University of Oxford | Michael D Beckwith

With its much-admired “tutorials“, the BCL is certainly one of the most aspirational post-graduate career choices when it comes to the Indian law graduate. Past BCL graduates have also commented on the intellectual freedom that the course provides, and the “intense but rewarding” learning experience. 

Of the fifty-six Indian law graduates who completed the BCL in the last decade, eleven (20%) are working outside the country. 

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020)

  • Average work experience: 0.8 years
  • Maximum work experience: 5 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 37 out of 56 are from NLUs

University of Cambridge (LL.M.) 

Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge
Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge | WikiCommons

Along with Oxford and LSE, the University of Cambridge is another extremely popular law school for the Indian law graduate. One former Cambridge grad described the LL.M. experience as “surreal“, with another noting the “subtle ways” in which the course impacted her professional career. 

Of the forty-eight Indian law grads who completed the LL.M. in the past decade, 11 (23%) are working abroad. 

Indian LL.M. graduate details (2010 – 2020)

  • Average work experience: 1.7 years
  • Maximum work experience: 9 years
  • Minimum work experience:  0 years
  • 35 out of 48 are from NLUs

(Lead image by Luis Cortes on Unsplash)

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