Subscribe for perks & to support LI

Your Interests & Preferences: Personalise your reading

Which best describes your role and/or interests?

I work in a law firm
I work for a company / in-house
I'm a litigator at the bar
I'm a law student
Aspiring law student
Save setting
Or click here to show more preferences...

I am interested in the following types of stories (uncheck to hide from frontpage)

Firms / In-House
Legal Education

Always show me: (overrides the above)

Exclusives & Editor's Picks

Website Look & Feel

Light Text on Dark Background

Save preferences

Note: Your preferences will be saved in your browser. You can always change your settings by clicking the Your Preferences button at the top of every page.

Reset preferences to defaults?

Prof Menon endorses overseas LLM degrees

Prof_Menon_thProfessor Madhava Menon has said that a master’s degree in law does not add much value if a student gets a quality LLB education, as the Legally India forum has attracted over 20 comments on the topic.

Menon, the founder director of National Law School of India University Bangalore (NLSIU), spoke to Legally India about the relevance of LLMs in attaining professional excellence.

But he added: "If you give a good LLB education I would say it is unnecessary to go for an LLM.

"If you notice, law graduates from national law schools do not go for their masters in India but they go abroad, mainly for two reasons – firstly, to get exposed to a completely different environment and secondly, to get an opportunity to work in an international law firm."

He said that students who apply for LLMs normally want to specialise in a particular area.

Menon explained that in his 50 years of teaching experience, his objective has been to encourage specialisation by ensuring that only 50 percent of the core curriculum was compulsory and the rest optional.

He said: "In the National Law Schools 50 subjects are taught, out of which only 26 are compulsory and 24 optional. Therefore, a student gets to choose an area of his interest in the criminal law, corporate law or public law side.

"After studying subjects of your interest for three years, you sort of become a specialist or are beginning to see an amplitude for that subject that can be further polished if you go abroad for a one-year LLM.”

He noted that in many foreign jurisdictions the bar has started recognizing specialisation by awarding accreditation, unlike the Bar Council of India (BCI).

Menon observed that unlike in earlier days it was nowadays possible to start out a career as a specialist. "I have seen at my first batch of NLS Bangalore, one student joined Amarchand Mangaldas at the time when Enron was negotiating with the Maharashatra Goverment to set up a power plant. He was asked to assist a lawyer for research work, which he did so well that he was asked to head their unit on energy law. Now after 16 years he is an expert in energy law," he recounted.

Legally India’s forum has seen a more than 20 comments posted in the past week on the usefulness of LLM degrees.

'Shilpa' wrote: "LL.M in Law schools is the step ahead of LL.B and meant for specialis

ation in fields. Most law schools offer specialisation in corporate Laws, IPR, Human rights. It is a well designed course which is full time and residential, conducted by the same administration and same teachers as those for the LLB. At the end of both the courses the placements are organised by the students and only administrative help is provided by the University."

'Just Curious' noted that "technically LLM and LLB degrees cannot be compared and should not be. Both courses have different objective, one gives qualification and the other gives specialisation".

'Shubho' found LLMs severely lacking, on the other hand. "I believe LLM from a law school in India is not one of the preferred qualifications for law firms. Another indicator is the fact that a lot of Indian associates do their LLM after working for a couple of years, again almost always from a foreign university. This is also supportive of the contention that the LLM course in India is not oriented towards a career in a law firm. I also admit that people who are doing LLM could be less inclined to join law firms because the course is designed for people who are interested in academics."

Click here to join the discussion.

The LLM-related excerpts from our discussion with Menon were made as part of a longer interview, which will be published on later this week.

Click to show 15 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.
refresh Filter out low-rated comments. Show all comments. Sort chronologically
Like +0 Object -0 Pankaj 16 Sep 09, 09:54
which is the best school for doing LLM from a foriegn university? i am especially interested in tp & int. tax. can anyone describe their career trajectory after doing an LLM, does it really help? how much increase in pay package can i expect? Thanks!
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Just Curious 17 Sep 09, 12:19
Open letter to Prof. Menon.

Respected Sir,

I write this letter to you in pursuance of the article published on this website ( reflecting your opinion regarding relevance of LL.M. degree in attaining professional excellence.

Sir, I am the one who started the discussion by posting the question in the forum on this website to receive opinions from law firms and corporate houses regarding how they perceive the LL.M. in comparison to the LL.B. degree from National Law Universities. Never in my dreams I had imagined while posting the question that this question will be so debated and will attract so much of attention from all corners. The icing on the cake came when decided to put the same question before a highly regarded and learned person like you. I became too curious to know your opinion on the topic.

Sir, this letter is long because I have put on paper all that I felt when I read the article quoting your opinion about LL.M. degree.

Sir, I am currently a student of LL.M. in one of the top ranked National Law University.

I must clarify before stating anything further that I hold highest regards for you just like any other student. I do not intend to mention anything which may offend you but pardon me if I unknowingly commit that sacrilege.

I am completely heart broken, shocked and rendered hopeless with what you have opined about LL.M. degree. With due respect Sir, you have caused an irreparable loss and damage to the recognition attached to the Masters Degree.

I prefer not to put before any arguments with respect to your opinion because of the reasons stated above. Even otherwise, it wouldn’t be in good taste if an LL.M. student argues against Padma Shree and a man of your stature.

I hope that you are aware that your words, opinions and public statements have a very significant impact on the perception of the legal fraternity, be it the Bar, the Bench or the Law Firms towards law students (LL.B. or LL.M.). And I believe that your opinion about LL.M. degree will also have impact in the relevant field.

Sir, with due respect, I hope that you are aware that your such opinion has the power to water down the very significance of the Masters Degree course. It has the power to practically ‘de-recognize’ LL.M. degree from all quarters be it the Bar, the Bench or the Firms. Your statement may have an impact of rendering all the LL.M. degree holders ‘valueless’.

Imagine a situation wherein an LL.M. degree holder seeks to achieve anything extra based on his hard earned LL.M. degree and he is confronted with your own words being quoted by his boss or Senior "If you give a good LLB education I would say it is unnecessary to go for an LLM.”. Sir, believe me, your same words can be quoted anytime and everywhere when an LL.M. degree holder seeks to achieve anything in his life and can be brutally insulted by saying that “See what your very own Prof. Menon has opined about your LL.M. degree.” I hope that a man of your understanding and stature never intends to cause such impact on our recognition.

Sir, I was hurt when few LL.B. students hurled baseless and senseless arguments to belittle the LL.M. degree on the discussion forum, but the hurt which your learned, experienced and well considered opinion has caused, is just beyond compare.

Sir, it would have been a very different situation had it been that you had expressed concerns about the ‘quality of education’ being provided at LL.M. levels, or the ‘quality of students’ studying LL.M. But you chose to strike the root of the matter by striking the very necessity of LL.M. degree.

Sir, permit me to ask you, is LL.M. degree so insignificant to deserve such comments from you? Has LL.M. pass out performed so bad to attract such strong opinions? Can you, with any degree of certainty, say that none of the LL.M. degree holders can be as successful as any other LL.B. degree holder?

Sir, a Masters course is well recognized in all the other fields because of the ‘specialization and research’ element attached to the masters degree. Take an example of M.B.A. from IIMs or M.Tech , M.E., M.S. or even M.D. All other fields have a Masters degree which is very well recognized and valued by one and all. If I accept your opinion as gospel truth for a moment, I would ask you that why is it not so in the field of Law? If LL.M. degree has slipped into ‘insignificance’, whose fault it is? And what is the legal fraternity doing to remedy the situation? Is it not harmful for the legal profession itself if thirst of better research is being ‘de-recognized’ by terming it ‘insignificant’? Will the legal profession, law and justice delivery not suffer if talented students are not encouraged to go for higher education and research oriented degree course? I have seen companies spending billions of dollars behind ‘Research & Development’. And from where does this ‘research’ come from Sir?

Sir, I cannot resist myself from citing one example. The example is that of Chandrayaan. India was able to achieve this phenomenal success due to unparallel hard work, efforts and not to mention, intelligence of the people behind this programme. Sir, I am a bit happy to observe that the scientists and engineers working for the programme were mostly Masters degree holders, majority also being Ph.D. Sir, scientific community has always supported, encouraged and recognized better research because they are aware that it is research which keeps the field alive. No milestone is the last one for scientific community and they always strive for better research because new research brings in new ideas and new ideas infuses life in the field. I am aware that legal field is too full of ‘established principles of law’ but can legal field afford to discourage researchers and thereby sink the Masters programme into insignificance?

Sir, I am nobody to suggest you anything but still, if you really believe in what you opined about LL.M. degree, you either ought to remedy the situation or prohibit National Law Universities from offering LL.M. course because hundreds of students like me take admission in LL.M. to gain specialization (leave apart the fact that we spend about 1.25 lakhs p.a. and 2 years in which we could have practiced in Courts) and we all would be disheartened to learn something which the preacher himself does not believe in. There is no sense in ‘cheating’ students by ‘teaching’ them something what the ‘teacher’ himself does not believe is significant.

With this questions I would like to end this letter. I hope that someday appropriate degrees achieve their fitting and necessary status and a person like you plays a significant role in it. Sir, please take up necessary steps to bring life to this degree which is dying due to insignificance.

I take this opportunity to thank for encouraging debate on this topic and bringing to light many important aspects. I hope that brings this letter to your notice.

Yours Sincerely,

Just Curious.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Senior Scholar 17 Sep 09, 18:31
Dear Mr. Menon,

I am a II year LL.M. student in NALSAR University of Law,Hyderabad. It is with a feeling of shock and pain that I finished reading your opinion on the significance (or the lack of it) of the LL.M. course in India. I also feel it is imperative to state that the comment of Just Curious on this regard reflects my views and feeling on this aspect.

Before I start, let me also add that it is not my intention whatsoever to question your views or your credentials. My intention is quite the opposite.

It is highly unfortunate that such a highly decorated person as yourself would hold such illogical views on such a serious issue. If it is true that the LL.M. courses offered in India and more specifically by the "so-called" National Law Universities are infact a humbug, why is it that such illustrious and celebrated academicians such as yourself not doing anything about it. Are we all waiting for a miracle to change the system?

I do not think it is fair that such a blanket opinion terming all LL.M. students as insignificant or worthless be tagged. And it is all the more difficult to accept such an opinion from you, Sir.

If I understood the part of your interview about overseas LL.M courses rightly, it is for 2 reasons viz., for the exposure and an opportunity to work in an international firm. Pardon me if I am wrong Sir, but I was under the impression that these National Law Schools were to improve the quality of the Bar and the Bench here. How would that happen if we keep shipping people off to these international firms for bag-loads of money? I do not think that any of the legal luminaries whom we so highly hold in praise went to a National Law School. Am I to believe and understand that any person who take up an LL.M course does so because he has not had a good education at the LL.B level? My reasons for taking up LL.M are far from it and a whole bunch of others too share my viewpoint on this regard. I had a good education at my LL.B level and I still decided to do a Masters degree.

Some people do consider the LL.M course and the LL.M students as the entry level for the teaching profession. If such insignificant persons in your esteemed opinion are allowed to mould these gifted minds at the udergrad level, I cannot even begin to think of their future or its SIGNIFICANCE.

I also second the opinion of Just Curious about the LL.M course. Sir, if anyone is at fault, I think it is the system that should be blamed and not the students of a Masters course who can at best only be termed victims.

A hundred thoughts rush to mind and a million questions choke my thoughts. But this may not be the right place to discuss them. I only felt that it is duty to voice out my thoughts when something which is against my belief and the truth are made public.

On an ending note, Sir, if the reality is that the LL.M courses in India have become insignificant then the time to act is now, Sir. Even tomorrow might be too late. And it is my honest opinion that it should be persons like you to spearhead that movement. You deserve to be known for stuff other than NLSIU and NUJS. There cannot be anything more befitting than the revamping of the Masters course.

In case I have said anything, intentionally or unintentionally to hurt your sentiments or your opinions, I would apologise for that. My intentions were to defend something I believe in. After all, I am a Law Graduate and this is what I do.

All that is left now is to hope that something changes- the misled opinions about the Masters course or the system.

Let the wait not be too long.

Yours sincerely,
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 john 17 Sep 09, 20:07
I particularly liked the comments posted by both just curious and 3 senior scholar, though i take strong exceptions to their views. i feel that all a good lawyer need is a sense of understanding and interpreting law and this can be acheived only by hard work and experience. Neither a "good ll.b degree" nor a ll.m can instill that into a person. However exposure is certainly an added advantage for those who aspire for a degree form abroad apart from saving time and energy. But with the current crop of ll.m’s and ll.b’s doing internships abroad that too is loosing its charm. However, iam in agreement with both just curious and 3 senior scholars with regard to the need for a sweeping change in the system. Masters should be made into a year’s course rather than streching it for two years, focusing on the aptitude of the students and not deteriorating it into just a blanket course to turn them into pedagogs. I also feel that the senoir most academicians like Mr. Menon has to initiate this process at the earliest and not hold the future of these hapless kids to ransom.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Chris 17 Sep 09, 22:02
The LL.M in India is hardly worth anything....People, please don't spend two years in an exercise in futility.

I have seen many ppl with Master of Business Laws (MBL) from NLSIU, Bangalore trying to flaunt their degree ...but sadly there are no takers.

Instead of spending two years doing LL.M from an Indian law school it would be better to focus on gaining experience - experience to prospective employers counts much more (and you will realise to yourself also). The LL.B takes care of the law requirement.

If you must, and have a yearning desire to learn a branch of law at greater depth, then try to get a degree from one of the better univs in the UK or US (only the better ones pls, others are just pedestrian money-making joints pretending to be univs).

But, I emphasise again, DO IT ONLY IF YOU HAVE ALREADY WORKED for a few years - esp. if you wish to gain further insights in an area of law which you actually practise or will practise. Preferably already practised. Not something as esoteric as Jurisprudence or Law and Social Theory or even LLM in Migration and Ethnic Minority Law.

Of course, you can still become an excellent lawyer without doing an LLM- and the vast majority don't ...but if you have the resources - time, money and the urge to quench the burning thirst for knowledge - then by all means go ahead. But only do a "specialist" LLM or LLM in a niche area where there may not be too many competitors (LLM in construction law is a good example).

And doing it from an India, sadly, does not count.

PS: And "Just Curious" and "Senior Scholar" ...get over it. As if heavens are going to fall ...with this one article all future employers have firmly decided in their minds.

BTW why are we Indians so obsequious ..granted Mr Menon, may have been a leading light in the sphere of legal education in India ...but why all the apologies and fawning, etc. It's sickening!!
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Just Curious 17 Sep 09, 22:26
My letter has been quoted by few individuals, few in support, one in ridicule. But I prefer not responding to either of them because I do not intend to start a fresh debate in this section, as it can be very well carried on in the appropriate section.

And also because my letter is intended for Prof. Menon and not for others.

So my silence may not be considered as acceptance of any arguments raised in this section.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Hasmukh Patel 17 Sep 09, 23:03
First of all thank you Mr. Chris for your valuable and expert guidelines as to what we are supposed to do. We never knew that this also a 'career counselling' section wherein 'experts' like you will be taking so much pains to guide the wandering souls of LL.M. students or the prospective LL.M. aspirants.

You seem to have yourself done a Ph.D. in 'career counselling' with specialisation in unwanted situations.

Listen dear, we do not need your advise as to what we need to do or otherwise. And put your facts in place first. MBL is a masters course, but it is not an LL.M. course by definition and thats why NLSIU also provides LL.M. degree in Business Laws and Human Rights. So please be clear that MBL and LL.M. are not technically the same. So please dont give MBL's examples.

And it seems that you are placing too much emphasis on experience alone. Yes, experience is no doubt essential. But, Masters degree has its own place. Otherwise would you prefer an M.B.B.S. to operate upon you or an M.D. Surgeon ??? If we go by your logic, even an M.B.B.S. with 10-15 years of experience can operate upon you and depend upon his 'experiences' he had with his previous patients. I will pray that the Doctor may have a previous experience of a person with similar problem, or else, his experience of 10-15 years will be useless, as your operation may be of unique nature.

And addressing the issue of specialising in a foreign university, I find it very very illogical. I mean, how can you claim specialisation in 'INDIA' when you STUDY FOREIGN LAWS IN FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES.

As I understand, you can be expert at corporate laws in India, only if you study The Companies Act, 1956 for 2 years. How can you claim to be an 'expert' or 'specialist' in 'corporate laws' in 'India' when you have studied U.S. or U.K. laws , and that also for only 1 year, not even 2 years.

I fail to understand that logic. That you are a specialist even if you study foreign laws for 1 year, and LL.M. in India are not fit for anything, even if they study Indian laws and that also for 2 years.

Any sane person with reasonable thinking power and I.Q. will not buy this idea my friend Chris.

So please rethink. and to justify 'Just Curious' and 'Senior Scholar", I would ask you a question. How would you feel if some one from Municipal Corporation comes one fine day and gives you a notice that the house in which you have been living since years is 'illegal' or 'does not have necessary approvals' or 'has faulty design structure' and hence will be demolished after 24 hours? Or somebody tell you that your LL.B. degree is not recognised by Bar Council of India and hence is of no recognition?

We know that the sky has not fallen neither the earth is torn apart. But when someone of such high credentials says that what you are doing is of no value, any reasonable man will feel a vacuum within. You might not be able to understand that since it does not seem from your 'mature' tone and language that you are an LL.M. student.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Chris 18 Sep 09, 01:49
are futures and options, swaps, CDOs, ISDAs etc can then come and search and apply the relevant indian law to what you have learnt.

@ Hasmukh Patel et al

I can understand - and in fact sympathise - with your predicament.

The LLM signifies that a person with this degree has advanced, specialised legal training. Now this training can be practise-oriented or very academic, and the latter is of no use to prospective employers.

If your desire is to obtain an LLM to advance your professional career, then pls consider going for an LLM in a field of law which would be useful.

Prospective employers (I am excluding teaching in univs!) look for lawyers who can provide practical solutions - they do not want you to write a 400 page treatise!

An LLM, if taught well, should be able to provide you with a much deeper understanding of an area of law - something which is much more insightful than what is taught in LLB.

Hasmukh, you have raised a pertinent point regarding LLM from foreign univs and Indian laws.

The master degree makes you understand the subject, the nuances, explains the concepts and how the law works in that area. Once you have understood - then applying it to an Indian context (by reading the Indian legislative enactments in that branch of law) should not be a problem.

To illustrate, LLM in IPR - you get to know what IPRS are ...why it is "intellectual" and intangible get to know what are copyrights ...when do they arise ...who can claim ownership ...when are they infringed. Similarly, you would be taught what are patents, what are the pre-requisites for obtaining one, their validity, how can they be challenged, etc.

Or if you are specialising in finance - you would be taught about capital markets and how they operate, derivatives, structured finance, project finance, securitisation, investment banking, regulation and compliance, etc.

Once your concepts are clear - applying the specific laws of a country should not be that difficult - that's the whole purpose of being trained as a lawyer!
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Senior Scholar 18 Sep 09, 10:34
@ Chris

I think you fail to understand the reason for these outbursts by me and the other two persons. The argument is from our side is not as to whether LL.M from foreign Univ are better. Well, I would agree that it may be better. Now that cannot mean to presume that the LL.M course or the persons doing LL.M in India aren't any good. I also understand that this one article is not going to change the mind of all employers. But that does not mean I should sit in silence when some person whom people tend to believe in undermines the whole course on some illogical and irrational basis. Did Prof. Menon have such a bad level of education at his undergrad level that he went on to do an LL.M and a Ph.D after that? My contention was that his blanket opinion was wrong and unfair. And for the record, it wasn't apologies or fawning. The man deserves respect but that doesn't make him right always. And he sure is wrong here.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Arpithahc 18 Sep 09, 11:39
Senior scholar,

Very well written,Thank you for speaking what I as an LL.M. student always felt.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 THEMIS 18 Sep 09, 15:38
First of all, never expected such opinions ("If you give a good LLB education I would say it is unnecessary to go for an LLM. "If you notice, law graduates from national law schools do not go for their masters in India but they go abroad, mainly for two reasons – firstly, to get exposed to a completely different environment and secondly, to get an opportunity to work in an international law firm.") from a person like Prof. Menon and so completely shocked.
I am in complete agreement with Just curious, senior scholar and Hasmukh as their view reflected mine as well. If a highly celebrated person like Prof. Menon, who is behind drastic changes in legal education in India, thinks that a Masters degree in India is unnecessary, then why these national universities, which is the creation of people like Prof.Menon, offering LL.M courses. And in My understanding and knowledge most of the eminent lawyers in India had done their LL.B and LL.M from India only.
Chris wrote: “The master degree makes you understand the subject, the nuances, explains the concepts and how the law works in that area.”
Absolutely right. But LL.M is not only for understanding a concept, for that LL.B is enough, as Chris himself said it includes lot more and law is not something which you can study in one country and go and apply it in another country. The two posts of yours reflects your understanding on LL.M course in India, sorry to say, your understanding is really poor. In India when you do an LL.M we are not only learning the Indian perspective, but also the comparative perspective as well. Chris wrote: “LLM in IPR - you get to know what IPRS are..............”. LL.M in IPR means much more I don’t think this is an appropriate forum to give proper course structure
To end with I believe lawyers duty is to interpret the law appropriately, not to apply one country’s laws in another country and mess it up.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Just Curious 20 Sep 09, 20:01

@ Teacher
"Let us be proud of our educational institutions: IITs, IIMs and NLSs. They are
doing a great service to the nation."

Honestly I preferred staying away from this forum because the debate has deviated like hell from its intended course, but for your comment quoted above, I woudnt have come back!!!

You are very right my friend Teacher for what you have said in the concluding lines. Yes, let us be proud for IITs, IIMs, and NLUs.

But again, the buck stops here.

IITs offer Masters course, and the masters degree from IITs are extremely well recognised and valued. I just happened to visit IIT Delhi's PG site and I was really impressed with the quality and variety of PG courses offered by IIT-D. And you know why??? because they value higher education and understand the value of research.

Come to IIMs, need less to say, it provides only Masters degree (PGDBA to be particular). IIMs do not provide BBA. They too, value and provide unparalleled Masters cadre education. Again, because they value research.

Now time for NLUs,ahem!! ahem!!! .... do we have anything to say for Masters degree???? There is no issue in having a celebrated course of LL.B...... but, what about Masters degree???

If NLUs seriously want to compare itself with IITs and IIMs, isnt it fair to expect from them to raise their standards of the Masters degree???

And should NLUs not wait before being compared to IITs and IIMs till the time they raise the alleged standards of Masters degree???

It is highly unfair .... NLUs want to be at par with IITs and IIMs for courses which are not at par.

If you want to compare, first be fully comparable in all aspects.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Grad 22 Sep 09, 19:18
Dear Senior Scholar et al,

As a recruiter I would look for, inter alia, clarity of concepts and fundamentals and educational pedigree. It may come as a rude shock to you but to assess pedigree I would look at the name of the college where you received your LLB. Your LLM is really of no consequence to me except to extent that if you got into a spectacular school, or received a scholarship, it reaffirms your (academic) brilliance. Once again, at the risk of depressing you, on the basis of past experience, I get no such assurance when it comes to those doing LLMs from Indian universities.
Reply Report to LI
Like +1 Object -0 HARISH 21 Dec 09, 12:06
Dear sir,
Iam a chartered Accountant who qualified recently and I would like to pursue a Masters Degree in Law to enhance my knowledge in law especially with regard to Excise,customs and Corp law.Is this degree going to be useful after completion of CA?
Kindly acknowledge.
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 29 Apr 10, 01:43
Dear sir,
Can you explain about comparative powers of MBL , LLM and LLB degree holders to enable us to understand the respective merits and demerits for making a decision for joining the courses.
With Best Regards
Reply Report to LI

Latest comments