This is my 3rd year with my law firm and things are going well so far. The work is satisfying, the firm is great, and I am learning a lot.
However, the long hours and the fact that I do not wish to pursue a career in private practice made me think about were to take my career from here.
I have recently participated in a seminar organized by my firm, discussing the benefits of an LLM. I have found out that my firm could sponsor my studies abroad and that would be an immense financial relief and give me the unique chance to improve my English abilities and strengthen my CV. I would however engage myself to stay with the firm for another 2 years after my return.
I am now wondering if doing an LLM is the right choice at this point in my career, as I won’t be able to change my job for at least another4 years (there still one year until I leave for LLM, plus the one year studying for the LLM, and then another two years after I return…). Ideally I don’t want to wait 4 years before moving.
What difference does an LLM really make on a resume and what does it mean for my career? Should I make a move to another company now?
M. Yesorno LLM
Dear M. Yesorno LLM,
Overseas LLM studies have been popular for well over a decade now. Some firms (and companies) continue to sponsor lawyers to do them, while others no longer do.
Why do you want to do an LLM? Do you want to study a specific area of the law in more detail at a particular school? Do you want to study in English? Do you just want a break from the insane hours of your law firms? Thinking about the why should help your decision-making.
With regard to whether you should go or not, it depends on your reasons for wanting to go. In terms of the value of an LLM, it only becomes valuable if, after you return to Japan, you can utilize the skillset you gain overseas, improve your language ability, specialize in a foreign related discipline, and become a overseas qualified lawyer.
Some lawyers fail to do so, and therefore their LLM becomes a good reference on their resume, but it does not necessarily add significant value to their career. If your time abroad is well utilized, and you have the chance to gain some work experience and make use of your knowledge, then yes, the LLM can be a plus on your resume. If not, then it might justas well be postponed.
Give yourself 6 months (before your LLM application deadline) to explore opportunities. Get in touch with your recruiter and ask him to introduce you to suitable roles.
Don’t be afraid of interviewing: the only way for your find out what you are looking for is to meet companies. Meeting with companies will help show you what is out there and what your options could be. Perhaps you decide to go overseas for LLM studies anyhow, however either way, this will help your decision-making.
Look out for companies that could offer you to go on an LLM in the future: some companies do offer to send their employees on LLM after 2or 3 years with them. You will basically have the best of both worlds; changing your job, and still having the option of going on LLM in the future.