Available from law schools at four-year universities, online Master of Laws (L.L.M.) programs are designed to give practicing lawyers specialized knowledge, which can help them better serve their clients and/or employers. These programs may also help lawyers meet the continuing education requirements of their state. Program curriculum varies greatly depending on the concentration area. The most common specializations offered online include information technology (IT) and telecommunications law, taxation law, and international finance and banking law. Most programs are totally online. Programs are often synchronous, meaning that students will need to attend online classes at set times.
To be admitted into an online Master of Laws program, American students must have a law degree - the Juris Doctor (J.D.) - to be eligible for admission. Those from other countries interested in enrolling in a U.S. school's L.L.M. program do not specifically need a J.D., but instead whatever law degree is available from their home country. Academic records, relevant work histories, recommendation letters, and interviews may be factors in the admissions process as well.
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Master of Laws
While most distance learning L.L.M. programs are offered totally online, many schools do require students to participates in class activities virtually at scheduled times. This could involve web conferencing sessions between students and professors as well as live video streams. Schools' online course management systems deliver lectures, assignments and other class materials to distance learners, which they can usually access any time.
The following list offers details on what students can expect to study in various online L.L.M programs.
Information Technology and Telecommunications
Students in L.L.M. programs for information technology and telecommunications learn about laws as they relate to technology. Much of this law is involves cyber-security, privacy and copyright. Common courses that a student concentrating in IT and telecommunications might take include:
- Data protection
- Computer crime
- Copyright and software
- Telecommunications law
Law and Taxation
Tax law can be very complicated, and an online concentration in law and taxation might interest accountants and professional tax preparers. Courses in this area focus on the different types of taxation, deductions and exemptions for businesses and individuals. Distance learners studying law and taxation could learn about the following:
- Tax procedure
- Estate and gift tax
- Advanced corporate taxation
- Taxation of partners and partnerships
International Finance and Banking Law
As global business grows, laws on international finance and banking will become more and more relevant. Common courses in an international finance and banking concentration include:
- International taxation law
- Legal methodology
- International law and foreign investment
- Aspects of banking law
According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of lawyers is expected to grow by 6% through 2024 (www.bls.gov). While job growth is as fast as the national average, the competition for these jobs will be strong because of the large number of law school students who graduate each year. Lawyers who hold an L.L.M. degree, which gives them specialized knowledge, may have a better chance of securing employment than those without. Job opportunities are expected to increase in the finance, insurance and healthcare industries. BLS data from 2015 shows that the average wage for lawyers was $136,260.
The most common online Master of Laws programs include taxation law and information technology and telecommunications law. A law degree is required for admission to these programs, and courses cover specific approaches and issues in the respective area and often involve synchronized online sessions with classmates.