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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

September 20, 2007

How hard is it to get into top US LL.M. programs?

In the following post, I provide a detailed analysis of LL.M. acceptance rates. UPDATES TO THIS POST CAN BE FOUND HERE, BUT READ THIS FIRST. 10/6/07: I have now updated my table on LL.M. admissions rates. Please read this post for my overall analysis, but refer to my most recent for admissions rates.

As I indicated in an earlier post, US Law Schools provide very comprehensive admissions results for their J.D. programs, but significantly less information for LL.M. programs. While ABA approved J.D. programs are required to report detailed admissions information, LL.M. programs are not required to report such data. Using US News and World Report's Law School information, I put together the chart below to look at how difficult it is to get into the J.D. and LL.M. programs at America's Top 20 Law Schools. CLICK ON THE CHART TO ENLARGE IT.
Email me at adammarkus.gmail.com for an excel or pdf version. See below for hyperlinks to where I obtained my data.

While there are many other great US Law Schools, I have, for the most part, focused on the schools that the LLM applicants I have worked with in Japan are most likely to apply to. The great exception is Yale, which is included because of its rank. Given that Yale's program is specifically designed for those who are seeking academic careers, my clients, lawyers (弁護士 Bengoshi), patent lawyers (弁理士 Benrishi), judges, prosecutors, and company and government sponsored legal experts don't typically don't fit the admissions criteria.

Well for some schools like University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, the program in Banking and Financial Law at Boston University, and USC it is not even possible to determine from their websites how many students attend each year. While I could contact students in these programs to get more numbers, I was specifically interested in seeing to what extent these schools actually provide good admissions data easily accessible to applicants. I have to say, as you can see from reviewing my table or actually looking at the websites I reference at the end of this post, that the amount of data available is quite limited.

I am have created estimated LL.M. acceptance rates mostly based on J.D. Yield. I do this based on the following assumptions:
1. J.D. Yield is an excellent indicator of a school's overall popularity with applicants. All things being equal someone admitted to a school with a higher yield is simply more likely to go there than someone admitted to a school with a lower yield. This is not always the case, but it generally the case.
2. LLM applicants, in-part, make decisions based on overall school ranking and ranking and yield are generally well connected (though not conclusively so).
3. I think JD yield rates accurately reflect the way my own LL.M. clients have acted in the past.
4. For NYU, which had more than 2000 applications and 425 students at the New York City campus and 40 in Singapore for Fall 2007, this formula does not work because the number of estimated admits that the formula generates is absurdly high. I have assumed their yield was 50%, which produces an acceptance rate of 47%. Their J.D. yield rate is very low and their LL.M. class is very big, so I think this is a reasonable adjustment. Of course, I wish I had real the numbers!

My formula for LLM Estimated Number Accepted:
(Number of LL.M. Enrolled/(JD Yield)=(Estimated LL.M. Number Accepted)
My formula for LL.M. Estimated Acceptance Rate:
(Estimated Number Accepted)/(Number Applied)= (Estimated LL.M. Acceptance Rate)
My estimated LL.M. acceptance rates are simply a guess and I would not be surprised if they are wrong. Use them at your own risk. Hopefully, I will be able to get better real numbers from schools, but I think my estimates are better than nothing.
Assuming my estimates are correct (a big assumption), the admission rates for top LL.M. programs are typically somewhere between 26% and 45%.

While not recorded on my table because it is completely outside my methodology, I assume the acceptance rates at Yale, Harvard, and Stanford are fairly close to the rates of J.D. admission. Given Harvard's size and the fact that the only schools a Harvard admit is likely to choose over Harvard are Yale and Stanford, I assume Harvard's LL.M. acceptance rate can't be higher than 15% and maybe as low as 10%.

Is Better LL.M. Admissions Data Available?
In effort to answer that question, I have emailed all 20 of the schools that I researched. I sent them all the same identical email at the same time. While I have specific contacts at some of these programs, I also wanted to see how the programs would react to such a request using their standard email addresses. I will report my results as I receive them. Questions? Comments? Write comments here or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com.

Specific urls cited for LL.M. data from US News and World Report's Top 20 US Law Schools for 2008 (in rank order)


(download application, it mentions 150 spots, but no other information)


New York University


University of Chicago

University of Pennsylvania
I found nothing on their site, http://www.law.upenn.edu/prospective/grad/coursestudy.html#llm

University of California, Berkeley

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Assume 55 per year.


University of Virginia
"Virginia Law receives several hundred applications each year for a class of fewer than 50 students." The brochure states 45 per year.

provided no information. It used to.
99 in the class of 2006 for both the LL.M. and LL.M./Kellogg programs.

I assumed 900 applied and 60 matriculated.

"Each year Georgetown Law Center provides Master of Laws degree programs for more than 100 students who received their legal training outside the United States." I used 100.

Nothing found at http://www.law.ucla.edu/home/index.asp?page=2266
or elsewhere.

Nothing found at http://lawgip.usc.edu/llm/admissions.cfm or elsewhere.

I counted the LLM students in the photo: 25.

University of Texas-Austin
"The LL.M. program is a small and extremely selective program. Each year we receive approximately 250 applications for the 30 or so places in the LL.M. class. In 2006–2007, our LL.M. class included 28 students from 14 countries." I assumed 30 attend and 250 applications.

Washington University St. Louis
No data provided at http://law.wustl.edu/ataglance/
or elsewhere.

Boston University

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
"We receive about 200 applications per year on average." "We enroll a class of 25 to 30 students each year." I assume 200 applications and 30 students.
-Adam Markus
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