Securing a graduate role in a law firm is more competitive than ever. But moving straight from a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) to a Master of Laws (LLM) might just be the key to leapfrogging ahead of the pack.
Studying an LLM is not only an option for the experienced legal practitioner. While some universities will require legal experience in the application process, others merely require an LLB - meaning students can continue from their bachelor degree directly into their masters.
According to some universities contacted by Lawyer2B, such a progression will place graduating students looking to enter the profession in a highly competitive position.
"If somebody has just finished their LLB, they may seek to go straight into a masters in order to be - at the end of the process - just that much more competitive with other graduates who are looking for jobs," said Dr Arlie Loughnan, program co-ordinator at the University of Sydney
She added that the university has also seen a noticeable increase in students undertaking the program, with an LLM increasingly more likely to be held by practising or emerging lawyers.
The way it's being recognised by the profession generally is that, in order to differentiate yourself from your colleagues, you now need to seek to do something over and above the minimum requirements," she said. "Obviously it's (an LLM) not a requirement, but I think it's going more and more in that direction for some students."
At the University of Melbourne, program co-ordinator Ian Ramsay said the best reason to study an LLM is to gain advanced knowledge in your areas of work and access to highly experienced lecturers and legal practitioners. Overall, said Ramsay, an LLM will offer career enhancements - as well as the ability to satisfy an intellectual interest.
Dr Alan Davidson, the director of postgraduate course work at the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland, said the economic climate may have actually played a role in encouraging students to continue from their LLB into the masters program.
"We heard stories of people who were promised places and were offered $10,000 not to take the place," he said.
Getting ahead in the legal profession is more competitive than ever, and acquiring an LLM will show commitment to a specific line of work and may, ultimately, be the difference between getting the dream legal job or not.