Advice for applicants to LLM programs

international business lawyer

My friend and former colleague Joshua Alter recently posted on LinkedIn some very frank and helpful advice for students preparing to participate in an LLM program in the US. With his permission I’m re-posting here for the benefit of future LLMs who may follow the Georgetown Legal English Blog.

It’s the time of year when international LLMs begin finalizing their plans for August. Advice I share with my LEALS students as they prepare to join a law school, modeled on what I’ve done over my career to onboard international LLMs:

1. Reach out to a current student at the school you’re planning to attend! I hope your school has already made a few introductions, but if not, use LinkedIn or your existing network to reach out to someone currently at the school (JD or LLM). Or, ask your school to make that introduction. It’s helpful to know people who can share advice on a number of academic, professional, and personal experiences. You’ll also begin to learn about the community based on those interactions.

2. Reach out to an alum at the school you’re planning to attend! Similar to #1 above. The LLM experience isn’t just about the education or the credential. Plugging into a high-powered or high-profile network can also be a major value-add if used properly. This is even more important if you’re planning to stay in that jurisdiction to practice. Find someone (through LinkedIn or request through your school) in a similar practice area or market.

3. Schedule a one-on-one with whoever the “me” is at your school. I tell my students that if they “begin” their LLM experience at orientation it may feel like a very short LLM experience. In the months before you begin, you can build a course schedule and research agenda. You can start thinking through bar exam eligibility and roadmap. You can begin building the foundations for a CPT or OPT experience (depending on # of semesters and programs). You can begin getting involved in a student organization. And with so much virtual nowadays, you may be able to attend a lecture or event.

Joshua Alter

If you’re an LLM student, or an LLM graduate, or thinking about applying to an LLM program in the US, does this seem like helpful advice? Have you done any of these things? Is there anything else you did–or wish you would have done? Please feel free to post a comment below, or let me know by email at

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