I haven't been posting much about LLM applicants on this blog, mostly because this time of year all the admissions news is about deadline and essay topic releases for MBA programs. But this doesn't mean that LLM applicants shouldn't be busy themselves (apart from work of course). Here are
1. Get a high TOEFL score.
TOEFL is a requirement for most programs, and in many cases the minimum is 100. Some programs may accept strong applicants with a 98 or 99, but others won't. Knowing which school does and which doesn't is not a necessity now - what you should instead be doing is putting your efforts into achieving as high a TOEFL score as possible to benefit your LLM application.
2. Get English transcripts from your university and determine your GPA.
Your academic background is one of the most important elements of your LLM application, so it is worth your while to know as early as possible how yours may rank when compared to your competition. Calculate your GPA for your undergraduate degree as well as your law school degree and share it with your counselor to evaluate if there are any strengths to be emphasized, or weaknesses to be considered.
3. Wait for deadlines to come out.
This should be mid-August to mid-September for the vast majority of top US programs. Deadline information is often accessible either via the LSAC application site or the LLM program's own pages directly. I encourage all applicants to verify information directly with the latter - i.e. the school's official website. While awaiting deadlines, consider starting the last two items on this list.
4. Research schools.
It never hurts to take a look into what programs offer what kinds of unique academic opportunities. While the core programs may not seem to be different from one school to the next, the reality is that LLM programs are quite different from each other in several ways both inside and outside the classroom. The websites are only starting points - and some programs don't offer reams of information online. Talk to alumni and aim to reach out to current students finishing up their program to learn more.
5. Start thinking about who your referees might be and what you may wish to write about in your essays.
It never hurts to reach out to your university zemi professor if you intend to ask them to write a recommendation letter on your behalf. In terms of the essays, don't be concerned that this year's applications questions haven't been released - they don't change much form year to year. So while I wouldn't recommend that you draft and finalize your essays based on last year's app, reviewing the previous year's questions isn't a bad idea.