When is the Best Time for Postgrad Study?
You’ve nearly finished your LLB or JD and you’re counting down the weeks until you can get out there in the ‘real world’ and never have to worry about essays and compliance with the AGLC again.
But then you remember that despite the horror of last-minute assignments, student life comes with some great perks, like sleep-ins, track pants on a week day and getting to learn about some pretty awesome law stuff.
If you’ve always liked the idea of doing a Master of Laws but aren’t sure whether to keep studying straight after your current degree or to have a few years away from the books, here are some things to consider…
Keeping your Brain in Study Mode
It’s a bit like the question of whether you should do a gap year after school – it can be difficult to come back to study after a long time away. You’re still in the swing of study, so it may be easier to keep the academic momentum going and spend an extra year after your current degree working towards an LLM.
A Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor course will give you a good grounding across the Priestley 11, but a Master of Laws will give you a deeper knowledge of a specific area of law. This specialised knowledge can help with your employment prospects if you’re hunting for a job in a niche legal area.
In some fields and organisations, a postgraduate qualification is essential. For example, further study is necessary to become a legal academic, and the United Nations normally looks for Masters level qualifications in applications for many of their roles.
But work experience can be just as important to getting a job, and if you’ve spent ages at university, it may be a good idea to spend a few years getting some work experience before embarking on extra study. Of course, if you’re still a student, your schedule may still allow you some flexibility to get some work experience and try some fantastic internships.
Also consider whether some experience working in your pet legal area may be able to provide some invaluable real world insights to your postgraduate studies a few years down the track. This could help you avoid specialising early only to find that you don’t really enjoy working in that area.
Money, Money, Money
The other major factor in deciding whether to do extra study now or later is money. Doing a Masters straight after your current degree might delay your entry to full time employment by one or two years, but the specialised skills you gain from it can increase your employment prospects and starting salary – you need to work out which approach will best benefit you.
Sometimes employers will contribute towards the cost of your course, which is another option worth looking into and is a major factor for some people. In exchange, you will typically be required to agree to continue working for your employer for several years after you have completed your course.
Another factor to consider is course costs. If you’ve just done an undergraduate law course, one year of an LLM will probably cost a lot more than one year of an LLB course. Postgrad study can be covered by FEE-HELP loans.
If you’re currently completing a JD course, another thing to be aware of is the limits on FEE-HELP. If your current course has been put on FEE-HELP, you might not be able to cover the cost of your entire Masters course in the same way, and may have to pay for some of your course up front.
Enjoyed this post? Sign up for the Survive Law weekly newsletter for more.