Standing at #17 in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report rankings for the best law schools in the United States, the Boston University School of Law offers a diverse selection of specializations alongside a general track LLM in American Law.
In addition, considering its proximity to New York, it should come as no surprise that BU Law is a highly coveted choice for students applying for an LLM in the US.
Based on inputs and anecdotes from BU Law’s LLM students, here’s a guide to help you put your best foot forward as you embark on your journey to apply for an LLM at BU Law.
Admission Requirements: Do Grades Matter?
The main admission requirement at BU Law for international students is a first degree in law or its equivalent from a recognized law school outside of the US. With that being said, BU Law will also consider candidates who do not have a law degree but are licensed lawyers in their home countries.
“What they’re really trying to assess is your competence to keep up with the course,” clarifies Parvesh Baba, currently pursuing his LLM in the Graduate Tax Program at BU Law. In Parvesh’s experience, his classmates’ grades ranged from anywhere between a 2.5 to a 4.0 GPA, an indication that grades are one amongst several factors considered by the admissions committee in evaluating LLM applications.
Trisha Mukherjee, an LLM candidate in the Banking & Financial Law program, echoed this sentiment by advising students to, “...holistically prepare your CV. Grades are not the only thing that matter.” For example, knowing early on that she wanted to build a career in fintech, Trisha carefully selected internships and jobs so that her CV would reflect her passion for the world of finance and law.
Building a Strong Profile: What’s the Impact of Work Experience?
Although work experience is not an official eligibility requirement, it is highly valued at BU Law. As a student in the tax law program, Parvesh remarks, “what they’re really looking at is: do you have an interest in [your specialization] and have you shown some kind of ability to do it?” In his case, while he did not have prior work experience, he had several tax law internships under his belt, along with two tax moot court competitions, and experience in debating.
When it comes to internships, it may help if the selection of internships demonstrates a common purpose or interest. “You need to make a difference between why you want it and what is the need of doing it,” Trisha insists. Your internships should be selected based on your interests and should be relevant to the program you’re hoping to pursue.
To build a strong profile, therefore, what really matters is commitment.
However, even if you do not have a declared specialization, “that’s what general LLMs are for,” reassures Anmol Sheth, a BU Law alumna who obtained an LLM in the general track American Law program. “Do a bunch of really good diverse internships,” Anmol suggests. One of the significant aspects of the application is to show your ability to commit to your interests, general or specific, and see them through.
Lastly, don’t disregard your extracurricular involvements when writing your personal statement. “There is no activity too small,” highlights Parvesh. For instance, Parvesh enjoys competitive debating, and mentioned this in his personal statement to demonstrate the soft skills he has developed alongside his educational and professional qualifications. Emphasizing other passions can go a long way towards making your application interesting, and further rounding out your personality on paper.
Don’t Forget the Faculty!
Obtaining an LLM puts you in the enviable position of learning from those who command absolute expertise in the law. It is therefore crucial to ensure that your LLM experience is guided by the best in the field. As such, BU boasts of a formidable faculty that ranks highly in the United States according to the Princeton Review. Anmol recalls that the range of the courses offered at BU, coupled with its faculty, is one of the major pros of attending Boston University.
“A lot of pros at BU come from the amount of courses that [BU] offers, the content for these courses, their faculty - a lot of their faculty are practitioners [who] are actively practicing…and it was fantastic! The classes were into not just the theoretical aspects, but also the practical aspects…and I actually found that applying to my work [in New York] and my job interviews.”, highlights Anmol.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
A relevant consideration for applying to BU Law is that they offer comprehensive merit scholarship programs to LLM candidates, and such scholarships do not require students to submit a separate application. According to Parvesh, scholarships can potentially cover around 40% of the expected costs. Although this does not cover the complete cost of attending BU, it is still a significant amount that aims to alleviate financial burden for applicants.
Financial aid at BU Law is merit-based. According to Trisha, the scholarship amount varies depending on the strength of the application, although it does help to tick any boxes asking if you require financial assistance.
At the end of the day, focusing on a strong application not only determines your acceptance into the program, but it can also establish the kind of financial aid the admissions committee is willing to offer.
Employment Opportunities: How does BU assist?
Speaking to Apoorva Panda, a recent LLM graduate of the Graduate Tax Program at BU Law, we learned that there are several ways the university assists in opening doors for its students. “There is a dedicated career cell at BU, they start off with building your resume and cover letters, and help you with mock interviews,” explains Apoorva.
In addition, BU also hosts a Tax Attorney’s Recruitment Event, attended by various companies and law firms around the US, which Apoorva enthusiastically notes is “one of the most helpful events for employment, especially for international students.”
Beyond specialized career events and centers, the one tool everyone should have in their arsenal is networking. “In Boston, the tax fraternity is small, everyone is connected to each other, so your presence there is very important,” Apoorva concludes. The impact of reaching out to your professors and attending networking events should not be underestimated.
Overall, to create a successful application, you need to lean in to your interests and demonstrate a deep level of commitment to your career. These are the skills you will need to make the most of your time at BU, and to open up your pathways beyond your LLM.