What’s the Difference Between a JD and an LLM?

Investing in higher education is the first step toward a lifetime of career success, especially when you choose to enter the professional field of law. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers in the United States earned a median annual salary of $122,960 in 2019. The law field is currently expanding at a 4% rate, and more than 32,000 new positions for attorneys are expected to be created by 2029.

One of the top-earning specialties in law is taxation, as shown by research by reporting on PayScale. The average annual salary for tax attorneys is $102,394, with many earning up to $192,000 annually, making this role a highly sought after career path.

When choosing the right education for the tax law career you want, both Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Laws (Tax LLM) degrees combine to support your professional goals. But before planning your education and pursuing both degrees, it’s important to understand the difference between the JD and Tax LLM, along with the benefits offered by both and the significant credentials each will provide.

JD vs. Tax LLM: What is a JD?

The JD is a three-year degree program that serves as the foundation of professional law education. After completing a bachelor’s degree, you may enroll in a JD program and prepare for the bar exam, which all lawyers are required to pass before beginning their careers. Completing a JD program will provide the credential it takes to become a lawyer. Still, if you wish to focus your expertise on a specific area of law, you would need to continue your education with a master’s degree.

JD vs. Tax LLM: What is a Tax LLM?

Similar to the JD, the Tax LLM also focuses on legal education. However, the Tax LLM is an advanced degree that can be completed in one year as a full-time student or two years as a part-time student. The program strengthens your professional law skills and provides the expertise you need to specialize your practice in tax law. The Tax LLM curriculum includes courses based on foundational legal knowledge and serves as the next step in your tax law education after completing a JD.

Some may pursue an LLM with a different area of emphasis, as this type of law degree often offers emphasis options that allow you to study a specific area of law. Because of these options, this law degree is an ideal program for licensed attorneys seeking advanced opportunities.

More Law Degree Options to Consider

The JD and Tax LLM aren’t your only academic options when it comes to achieving a successful career in tax law.

Master of Tax Law (MT)

Similar to the JD and Tax LLM, the Master of Tax Law (MT) is an advanced degree that explores law education. However, unlike the Tax LLM, this type of degree does not require you to complete a JD before enrolling, which is why it’s attractive to many non-lawyers who want careers that allow them to specialize in tax law.

With this degree, you’ll have the academic credential required for a variety of in-demand positions with rewarding compensation, including the role of a financial adviser. With an industry growth rate of 7% per year, the number of available financial adviser positions is increasing at a faster than average pace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2019, the median annual salary for professionals in the role was $87,850, with similar titles in taxation earning wages in the same range.

Dual JD/Tax LLM

Individuals who want to earn a Tax LLM degree but have not yet completed a Juris Doctor can earn both simultaneously with a Dual JD/Tax LLM program. Serving as a fast track to career success, this type of tax law degree program combines the diverse technical skills required to become an attorney with the advanced tax expertise you need to focus your law practice on taxation. By choosing this academic path, you’ll complete your postsecondary law education in just three years and be prepared to sit for the bar exam.

JD vs. Tax LLM: The Education that’s Right for You

There are various types of law degrees to consider when pursuing a career in tax law, but the JD and Tax LLM combine to provide the education necessary for long-term professional achievement. Building on the skills gained in the JD, the Tax LLM helps you build the expertise necessary to specialize in the top-earning field of tax law, and Loyola Law School provides a quality legal education experience you can trust.

With LLS, you can choose from a selection of online and on-campus graduate tax degrees, including a Tax LLM program that offers emphasis options in High Net Worth/Private Client and Business Tax Planning. Taught by experienced tax professionals, each program is designed with your career success in mind.

Discover the program that’s right for the tax law career you want and get started with Loyola Law School today.

Loyola Law School’s Online Graduate Tax Degrees:

Read more about Graduate Tax Degrees here!

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