The term VUCA — short for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous — characterises the current state of our world. It requires professionals who can navigate complex business environments mired by disruptive technology. “T-shaped” graduates fit this bill, which explains why they are coveted by employers, especially those in the legal profession.
T-shaped lawyers are individuals who have both legal expertise as well as knowledge and skills in multiple disciplines that law relates to. The T-shaped skillset complements their area of work, which allows them to operate more efficiently within the legal landscape, which is being moulded by changes in technology, globalisation and today, a pandemic.
Lawyers who want to boost their careers and stay agile in a rapidly-changing job landscape may find that an LLM or PhD could help them do just that. An advanced degree in law can prepare graduates for international legal careers or to work in roles that rely on skills that extend beyond the legal framework. These not only add value to employers but also for graduates who may later want to work in public or private business sectors later in their careers.
The good news is some of the best law schools in Europe are currently shaping their students with T-shaped skill sets to efficiently practise as a 21st-century lawyer. Here are our top picks:
Becoming a student at UMinho’s School of Law entails studying in the historical city of Braga — one of the oldest Portuguese cities which was founded in Roman times. It is one of the best-ranked law schools in the country, bolstered by their strategic partnerships within the legal community, excellent facilities, quality programmes, and young faculty and administrative staff.
UMinho’s legal courses respond to the current needs of the labour market and address global challenges in the fields of law, criminology and criminal justice; they benefit professionals working in areas in which these matters are relevant.
Students can find advanced degrees such as the LLM in European and Transglobal Business Law, a master’s degree that exposes students to topics including European contract law, international economic law and the fundamentals of international taxation. The programme culminates with a dissertation. It also provides basic training for students aiming for a PhD.
Master’s degree holders can also opt to enrol in their PhD in Legal Sciences. This course aims to develop research capabilities and provide solid and advanced training for legal practitioners, researchers and teachers. It is divided into three main areas of expertise: Private Legal Sciences, Public Legal Sciences and General Legal Sciences.
Aspiring researchers might also be interested in their Research Centre for Justice and Governance (JusGov), a sub-unit of the School of Law and a R&D unit of the university. JusGov engages in international research networks and provides policy-relevant research and legal expertise of interest to governments, practitioners and other stakeholders, and contributes to the scientific initiation and advanced training of early stage researchers, to name a few.
With UMinho’s strategic location, studying here is set to be an adventure too. Braga may be more than 2,000 years old, but it is also vibrant and modern, offering international students a high quality of life and affordable living. It is located next to Guimarães, another renowned historical city and tourist destination. Portugal is also a gateway to Europe — Barcelona, London and Paris are only around two hours away by plane.
The Dickson Poon School of Law at this Russell Group university is not only one of the oldest law schools in England, but also recognised as one of the best in the world. The School was established in 1831. Their research and teaching address pressing issues, including those that relate to equality and human rights, the legal implications of climate change, globalisation, international relations, trade, competition and global finance, to name a few.
The School’s LLM offers a choice of nine specialist pathways or a general LLM qualification. The LLM pathways include Competition Law, European Law, Intellectual Property, Information Law, International Business Law, International Financial Law, International Dispute Resolution, International Tax Law, Law and Technology and Transnational Law.
Students who want to learn from the comfort of their home can enrol in fully online LLMs in International Corporate & Commercial Law, International Financial & Commercial Law and International Tax Law. If your interest lies in research, the School offers a MPhil/PhD Law Research. Their PhD in Law spans three years full-time, after which a further year is allowed for completion of the PhD thesis.
The School is based in King’s Strand Campus in London, a location that puts you at the heart of legal London with the Houses of Parliament, government departments, the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court and the offices of global law firms all within walking distance. Politicians, judges and legal practitioners often give public lectures, seminars and talks at King’s, providing unparalleled industry insight and connections.
Did you know that the Faculty of Law in Oslo is the oldest and largest educational and research institution within the field of law in Norway? The university offers a number of English master’s programmes in law, including Information and Communication Technology Law, Maritime Law, Public International Law and Theory and Practice of Human Rights. Each takes between one and a half years to two years to complete.
Students in the energy sector might be interested in their North Sea Energy Law programme, an advanced curriculum on energy law, from wellhead to burner tip, designed and structured specifically for legal professionals in the energy sector. This part-time LLM is offered jointly by the Universities of Groningen (the Netherlands), Oslo (Norway), Aberdeen (UK) and Copenhagen (Denmark).
Those opting for a PhD programme should take comfort in knowing that in addition to the traditional fields of study within law, their researchers also explore more modern aspects of law, such as Environmental Law and e-commerce. PhD graduates can seek a career in research or other academic challenges in or outside Norway, and apply for research positions at Norwegian and foreign educational institutions.
Fribourg Law in Switzerland draws on 250 years of academic excellence; their law degrees are recognised and respected worldwide, making it an attractive option for international students seeking an education from one of the best law schools in Europe.
The School offers a number of advanced degrees in law, including an LLM in International Contracts & Arbitration, LLM in Compliance, LLM in Commodity Trading, LLM in International Business Law as well as an LLM-MBA Dual Degree.
Their LLM in International Business Law, for instance, equips students with the essential knowledge and skills needed for a career in all areas of international business law. The course was developed in close consultation with the legal departments of major Swiss companies and multinational corporations, as well as leading international law firms.
Partnerships between the Fribourg Law faculty and a wide range of Swiss and multinational companies mean students have access to legal internships that can bring valuable work experience in the heart of Europe. Switzerland’s reputation for its low crime rate, public transport networks and good health system also makes Fribourg Law an attractive study abroad destination for aspiring LLM students.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International