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College officials are gearing up for a marketing drive to promote the LLM in North America and Southeast Asia – with prospective Canadian law students especially in their crosshairs

The global marketplace in post- graduate degrees is increasingly competitive - and College of Law officials are tackling the challenge head on with a vigorous global road show promoting the innovative nature of its LLM.

The college is focussing this year on the two international common law legal hubs of North America and South-east Asia. Senior managers will be heading first to Hong Kong, with Canada, Malaysia and Singapore also on the tour list before the end of 2012.

Canada represents fertile ground for the LLM as when combined with its LLB it offers law students from that country an almost unique opportunity.

LLM bonus

Canadian students who complete the college’s accelerated two-year LLB can extend their stay in London by a year to do the one-year full-time LLM. When they return to Canada they will

only be required to do a short burst of additional tests - called ‘challenged exams’ - before being able to sit their individual provincial bar exams to qualify.

That means those students qualify as lawyers almost as quickly as they would do if they had stayed at home, and they have the bonus of having a highly desirable LLM under their belts - in addition to the experience of living overseas.

Canadian LLB degrees take three years to complete with no benefit of an LLM on top. Also, if Canadian students came to London just to do the LLB and then return, they will have to sit a far more extended and complex series of challenged exams.

Global firm interest

Adding to the attraction of having such a heavy dose of English legal education for prospective Canadian lawyers is the increasing interest that London-based global law firms are taking in that jurisdiction.

That point was highlighted at beginning of this year when global player Norton Rose merged with leading Canadian law firm Macleod Dixon. Since that deal was struck, the firm has named as its first non-English chairman Canadian partner Norman Steinberg.

While the college sees plenty of scope for marketing its LLM in Canada, moving south to take a slice of the huge US market remains elusive for the time being. However, there are plenty of international opportunities remaining, not least in the Far East.

A senior staffer is headed to Hong Kong at the end of July to promote the course at one of the region’s leading events for graduate and post-graduate students. He will then head later in the year to Malaysia and Singapore.

Liberalised legislation

College officials are confident that the LLM appeals in those jurisdictions because they are international legal hubs with, yet again, much English and US law firm interest. Indeed, only a few days ago, Malaysia’s Legal Profession Bill was tabled in parliament for a second reading, taking the country a step closer to a more liberalised regime that will allow foreign firms a foothold in the local market.

Singapore is already a relatively open playing field for global firms. At the beginning of May, leading Netherlands law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek said it expected to open an office shortly in the city-state, while earlier this year US firm Squire Sanders received a licence following similar moves by London firms LG and Withers.

Europe is also on the college’s LLM marketing hit list. Officials maintain that Germany remains a potentially fruitful market as there is already strong evidence that German graduate students are keen to do masters courses in the UK.

Black-Letter of the Law

While the IBA-College of Law LLM provides students with crucial skills in modern lawyering, its core purpose is to give graduates a crucial

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