It is not better and has nothing to do, in general, with ability or experience in the practice of law. It is an advanced degree which a law school graduate who already has the basic JD degree might pursue either out of a particular interest or with the intention of pursuing a teaching career or some highly specialized kind of legal work in which an additional academic background might be required or useful.
An LL.M is a Master of Laws degree. It is the next step up from a J.D. and usually requires 2 more years of specialized schooling in a particular discipline: for example, tax. Whether it is "better" or not depends on the lawyer and the type of professional expertise the client needs.
I am unaware of any certificate authority that requires an LL.M degree. As an advance degree, it usually represents an early interest in an specific area of law and not any specialized expertise developed in the practice. This is a question you should research on your own through Google. – Michael
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LLM = Master of Letters of the Law
JD = Juris Doctor (previously known as, and sometimes still called LLB, Bachelor of Letters of the Law)
The field of law, to my knowledge, is the only field in which a person gets their Masters, after they've gotten a Doctorate.
LLMs are usually issued in two situations:
1. When someone wants to specialize ... Tax is a common LLM
2. When someone is a lawyer from a foreign country and they want to take a 'short course' to get their LLM, rather than go through the 'full' course of getting a JD. In a couple of states, people with a foreign law degree and an LLM can take the bar exam and practice law without a JD/LLB.
Better? As my colleague pointed out, neither one is better ... they're just different.
PS There is one more degree: SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) that is more 'akin' to a Ph.D ... mostly obtained by people who want to devote themselves to academics. Here's Harvard's program: http://www.law.harvard.edu/academics/degrees/gradprogram/sjd/
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Many lawyers who were in other countries get an LLM, so they can take the NY bar (or other state) and practice in the US. So they have an LLM without having a JD.
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It is as better than JD as this is an immigration quesiton.
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One cannot get an LL.M. without first having a J.D. (or LL.B. for an older lawyer), so it is not "better," just more study in a specialized area of the law. Tax is the most common; international law is another.
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