LLM: No Path to Success in the U.S.

LLM students struggle with a lack of guidance. They seek precise answers to their questions so that their next steps become clear. But try as they might, they cannot find a roadmap to success. Frustrated by the lack of direction, they assume that there is no way for LLM students to succeed, that it is hopeless. There is indeed no specific guide for LLM graduates, but it does not mean that they will not succeed. 

We are accustomed to following exact steps; if you study this, you get this degree; if you get this degree, you can take that bar exam; if you pass that bar exam, you can get admitted in that state; if you get admitted in that state, you can practice in that jurisdiction. But when it comes to the job search, things become fuzzy. How do you find a job as an LLM student or graduate? This question draws a blank on most faces. Yet, there are thousands of successful LLM students and graduates in this country. There are prospects for success! So how did they do it? The answer is: The path to success as an LLM student is no-path.

The traces that successful LLM students leave behind are so ephemeral that others cannot follow them. Many LLM graduates share their success stories, but we cannot retell that story, let alone expect others to emulate it. No exact steps can be discerned. What makes an LLM graduate successful is her ability to act within the ever-changing circumstances of a particular moment. She is nimble, responsive, and able to navigate uncertain conditions. The lack of a discernable path does not stop her. On the contrary, she embraces the challenge and creates her very own path. Moving forward, she takes a step that was not there before. However, her footprint must vanish because circumstances will change.

So for the next generation, choosing one’s path is the right path. The environment in which an LLM student operates is an environment that requires walking where others left no marker. Creativity, boldness and resilience are required. While others search for a roadmap, the successful LLM graduate is already traveling the road to success.

Your path is THE path. You cannot follow; you must lead yourself.  


Desiree Jaeger-Fine is director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School and author of "A Short & Happy Guide to Networking" (West Academic Publishing) and "A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired" (West Academic Publishing).