LLM in Commercial Law

#1

I have been having long discussions with a friend of mine who also wants to pursue a career in account but has come at it from a legal degree rather than an accounting position. They are looking at doing an LLM in commercial law, as they feel as they feel this would give them the actual skills necessary to make them very employable in the accounting world. I’m slightly concerned that by doing a Masters in law, they are setting themselves apart as a lawyer rather than an accountant and whilst there is obviously some benefit in having good legal knowledge and training Masters in law is not going to help matters and are better off looking at doing some sort of professional qualification in accountancy.
What does anyone else think? Is there any value in doing a Masters that is not specifically geared towards accounting, if you ultimately want to work in an accounting environment?

#2

Hi Stella

There will be arguments for and against this approach. It may be that many will see your friend as being targeted in one direction and thus that is where they should position themselves, but likewise there will be those who feel that law, and in particular Commercial Law would be a very solid background for an accountancy student.
There is now a cross fertilisation between accountancy and law with experts in both fields in each area. The need for accountants to understand commercial law, contract law and company law will not decrease and thus I can see that a Master’s degree would be of great use. Any degree will show that the student has the ability to apply themselves and thus this will stand them in good study for the arduous accountancy exams. It may be that your friend will be a touch late in starting the process but no matter, her degrees will serve her well.

#3

Thanks, I’m inclined to agree with you in that any good quality masters is going to help employers look more favourably on the students as it shows the ability to study at a higher level and focusing on something such as commercial law shows a strong academic ability. I am still slightly concerned that by focusing so much on law she will make life somewhat difficult when it comes to proving to firms that accountancy has been something that she wants to do but as you say there is a great deal of cross-fertilisation between the subjects and it is relatively easy to see how detailed knowledge of commercial law would be useful to accountants there is still a stronger argument towards undertaking an accountancy degree but doing several modules in law as a way of getting the legal knowledge but also showing dedication towards accountancy, something which in my experience employers are keen to see. I guess it depends on if you get lucky with your employer and you can explain why you studied what you did.

#4

Stella

I am intrigued by the way that the accountancy degrees are encompassing law and IT into the modules etc. as when I took my first degree apart from mercantile law it was totally accountancy based. The degree that I sat stood me in good stead and I now wondering what must have happened to some of the subjects (Sorry, not modules in my day) that were taught. Is it that the way in which accountancy has separated itself into designated areas that has meant that the broader degree is now almost obsolete, or is it that with software the focus of learning has changed?
The need for an accountant to grasp law is vital and cannot be undermined. Against this is the balance, as I see, that demands the strongest possible grounding in all things accounting.
I do just worry that all this focus on modules and choices will make the future accountant have a little knowledge of a lot, and I ask if this is good for the future?

#5

Stella

I am intrigued by the way that the accountancy degrees are encompassing law and IT into the modules etc. as when I took my first degree apart from mercantile law it was totally accountancy based. The degree that I sat stood me in good stead and I now wondering what must have happened to some of the subjects (Sorry, not modules in my day) that were taught. Is it that the way in which accountancy has separated itself into designated areas that has meant that the broader degree is now almost obsolete, or is it that with software the focus of learning has changed?
The need for an accountant to grasp law is vital and cannot be undermined. Against this is the balance, as I see, that demands the strongest possible grounding in all things accounting.
I do just worry that all this focus on modules and choices will make the future accountant have a little knowledge of a lot, and I ask if this is good for the future?

#6

I’m inclined to agree with you David and whilst I’ve completed my degree more recently where there were dozens of modules available at every turn. I understand the point of this and the value that it can potentially create by allowing students to get a much broader understanding of commerce but I’ve also seen some people fall very foul of these options. If someone isn’t that focussed and simply does units because they sound fun there is a danger that the individual will come out with a degree that has no real depth and no real focus.
Offering loads of module options is great for some people but I worry that it’s all becoming too diluted in my mind and unless the students have some good advice or are pretty focussed in their own right these wide options will not necessarily produce more rounded students but rather individuals who don’t have the necessary expertise in any specific area.

#7

This question of modules and the variance that they offer is of growing concern. There is of course an appointed student advisor who will talk your choices through with you but in general they will not dictate as their functions are advisory only. Thus a student has the ability to be completely disjointed in their approach which will not ensure they have a degree of value on graduation. Taking modules because they “look interesting” is not the way forward but conversely if a degree is balanced then they have a strong place in the structure of studies. In my specific area of accountancy there is now so much diversity that it is good for students ti be able to taste and try before they buy as it will allow them to be able to know what is being offered when they take up their training contract. They may have tasted taxation via a module and know that apart from the statutory part of trainng it is not for them They may on the other hand find that auditing is an attraction and that may lead them to forensic accounting. It may me that management accounting with its more hands on approach in respect of day to day affairs has tugged at the heart string. All of these modules will be appropriate to a training contract so are not lost, but can that be said for all of the module mixes offered in so many degrees? I doubt it.

#8

Thanks for all your thoughts on the matter, it makes interesting reading! After speaking to a wide range of lecturers I think there is much more opportunity for self directed study in the form of research and choice of modules. This seems to work well for those students who have a clear idea of what they want to do in the future, but may be a case of too much choice, particularly for those students who do not have any clear agenda.
Then again, the very fact that students are considering undertaking a Masters degree should suggest that they are already sufficiently aware of the types of careers that they are likely to have ahead of them and can make reasonably well-informed decisions as to which units they will mostly enjoy. In particular many of the students will have studied aspects of law during their undergraduate and will know which areas they want to study further in. I do think, however that some form of career guidance should be compulsory before choosing the precise LLM subjects to be studied just to make sure that the students understand the options available to them and what these options mean to their long term career goals. Just a thought for the universities that are worried about the long term career goals of postgraduate students.