Amicus Interviews: Priyasha Corrie on QLTS Geek, foreign practice & more

Priyasha Corrie on the QLTS Geek app

Priyasha Corrie

The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) is a great way to seek a foreign, professional qualification, and has become quite popular with Indian lawyers looking to move out of the country.

Priyasha Corrie, an Indian law graduate currently working as a corporate lawyer in the UAE, has not only taken the QLTS but has also set up QLTS Geek, a website and app meant to help those who are looking at taking up the QLTS.

In this interview with Amicus Partners, she talks about the journey behind QLTS Geek, her own experiences with the QLTS, and a whole lot more.

QLTS Geek – how on earth did you find the time for this? Also, when did you start planning the site? 

When I was preparing for the QLTS, I longed for a mobile app which would help me with the QLTS subjects.  After I cleared the QLTS, I thought to myself – why not make this a reality?  But I was in two minds because taking this initiative required commitment and time and I wasn’t sure whether I had it in me to give the project my dedication.

In any event, I started blogging about my experience on LinkedIn. I then started receiving a lot of LinkedIn messages from QLTS candidates asking for advice and I felt that it would be good to follow through with what I had in mind because there isn’t much guidance out there on the QLTS (as against, say the New York or the California Bar Exam).

QLTS Geek’s objective is essentially two-fold. First, I’ve created a mobile app with flashcards on OSCE subjects, which is for the whole ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning experience. Second, I have created a website with a blog and guidance on the QLTS – I hope to create a discussion forum and a way to review prep schools on the website soon.  I still don’t know whether this initiative is going to be a success, but when I receive feedback from candidates saying that the blog or my app has helped them, it really makes my day.

Working on a side project outside of work is tedious and I spend my evenings and weekends on QLTS Geek. I don’t party much and so basically don’t have a life! But I’ve always loved challenges and working hard towards a goal.  I am a geek myself and so the name ‘QLTS Geek’ is apt, I guess!  Perhaps I could call QLTS Geek a ‘labour of love’.

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I don’t party much and so basically don’t have a life!  But I’ve always loved challenges and working hard towards a goal.  I am a geek myself and so the name ‘QLTS Geek’ is apt, I guess!  Perhaps I could call QLTS Geek a ‘labour of love’.

How did you go about the “non-law” part of it like website design, the proposed app etc?

I might have been into computers had I not chosen to be a lawyer, and so I still like to keep myself at least a bit technologically savvy. Thanks to Google research, I was able to make the website myself on WordPress. Unfortunately, creating an app is complex and requires one to depend on developers and that’s what I did. I googled developers and engaged one in India to help me out.

It was expensive, but I’ve learned a lot through the process. I look at it as an investment in my learning – an alternative to spending thousands of dollars on an MBA course for theoretical knowledge.

Do you think the QLTS is becoming more popular amongst Indian lawyers? What prompted you to take the QLTS?

An Indian qualification is often not perceived on equal footing with a western qualification and you will realise this once you start practising outside India.  This is one of the reasons the QLTS is popular amongst Indian lawyers practising abroad. As such, the idea behind taking the QLTS was to make myself more marketable. And like I said above, I love challenges and taking this one on made sense.

The QLTS may not be that relevant for those lawyers who do not intend to move outside India. But since a large part of Indian law is based on English law and the assessments place a strong emphasis on practical skills, there is a lot to learn and gain in the process.

In addition, there is a significant focus on professional conduct in the QLTS assessments and I appreciated that because I believe ethics are important for a lawyer.

Apart from the obvious advantage of admission to the roll of solicitors, do you think the QLTS provides any other skill sets for international lawyers?

What I loved about the QLTS assessments was that the OSCE focussed on the practical skills of a lawyer — interviewing a client, advocacy, research etc. I don’t think any other bar exam in the world tests these practical skills. I learned a lot of soft skills in the process and have emerged a better lawyer.

I don’t think any other bar exam in the world tests these practical skills.  I learned a lot of soft skills in the process and have emerged a better lawyer.

Also, the SRA is very organised and sends regular newsletters for solicitors to be updated about the profession and elicits feedback on the admission process and assessments. It just made me realise how much catching up our Bar Councils in India have to do.

As a starting point, we need to have an online roster for lawyers in India and lawyers from corporate law firms should be represented in the Bar Councils.

In terms of prep time, you do write that to each his own. But looking back, what is the minimum amount of time one should look to devote to QLTS prep?

For the MCT, I would advise about 3-4 months (with the aid of a prep school) for a working lawyer, in order to feel confident taking the assessments. For the OSCE, I would suggest 4-6 months for a working lawyer.

The QLTS is a significant financial investment – are there any ways at all in which an international lawyer could lessen this burden (Do employers offer financial aid, are there any waivers or bursaries of any sort?)

It sure is an expensive process and I paid for all of it myself – that’s where my credit card came to the rescue! Many lawyers are sponsored by their firms, particularly if one is working for an international firm. I’m not sure whether there are any fee waivers though.

What is your view on the Indian legal market, specifically when it comes to smaller, transaction-based firms? Do you see space for more breakaway firms? 

The Indian legal market does look like it’s on fire.  There are a lot of opportunities and I think firms have risen to the task.  Looking forward, I think there will more breakaway firms because the millennials and Gen-Zs will not be able to gel with those having traditional mindsets. Firms evolving and adapting to a flexible approach to work will do well, in my view.

Lastly, any predictions on international law firms (somehow) making it to India?

It is hard to predict international law firms making it into India because the subject does seem politicised. I see no harm in allowing international law firms in India – it would only make the market better and competitive. I also don’t believe that they would eat up the share of local firms. In fact, international law firms will most likely outsource many of the smaller matters to smaller boutique firms or collaborate with local firms.

I see no harm in allowing international law firms in India – it would only make the market better and competitive. I also don’t believe that they would eat up the share of local firms.

I can go on but I will end up digressing. Again, we need corporate lawyers in Bar Councils who would be able to add more dimensions to the discussion. For instance, in the UAE, both international and local firms thrive together and the market is better because of it.

Final question – You have had quite an interesting career so far. A mid-career break, shifting jurisdictions and jobs, acing the QLTS – what keeps you motivated?

Thanks for your kind words, although I don’t think my career has been that interesting!  I look at everybody else’s career and fret about mine — I’m still learning the art of not comparing myself with others.

I have a passion for learning and that’s what keeps me going. I don’t believe in the theory of ‘Work hard now, enjoy the rest of your life’. I believe one should always work hard on all spheres of one’s life, and enjoy the process (including seeing the merits of the tough times). There’s a still a lot more I want to do although I think I need to be clearer with my vision and chart out the map to get there.

#Alert: LLM online fair with 14 US Law Schools

In case you are thinking about an LLM from the US, here is some good news. Fourteen US law schools including the likes of Brooklyn Law School, and Case Western University will be participating in an online fair on November 27, 2018.

Prospective applicants can register here, and get in touch directly with the admission offices of the participating universities.

The list of participating law schools for an LLM includes:

LSE will be visiting India (Sign up)

LSE-logo-and-signage-on-building (1)

In case you are thinking about enrolling for the LLM (or any other degree) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), here is a good opportunity to find out more. LSE’s Will Breare-Hall, the school’s Student Recruitment and Study Abroad Manager, will be in India and hosting sessions throughout the country.

This is the e-mail I received recently, links for the registration are available below:

Mr. Will Breare-Hall, LSE’s Student Recruitment and Study Abroad Manager, will be in India in November and December 2018, visiting Mumbai; Bengaluru; Chennai; Kolkata, and Delhi. He will be meeting prospective students and delivering presentations on applying to and studying atLSE.

 

These will be followed by question and answer sessions and the opportunity to speak with Will on an individual basis.

 

If you have questions about undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate or study abroad programmes at LSE, please reserve a place at one of Will’s presentations using the relevant online booking form. Attendance is free of charge and does not form part of the School’s selection process.

The dates are as follows:

Mumbai (28 Nov, 2018)

Event Page &  Register here

Bengaluru (3 Dec, 2018)

Event Page & Register here

Chennai (6 Dec, 2018)

Event Page & Register here

Kolkata (7 Dec, 2018)

Event Page & Register here

New Delhi  (11 Dec, 2018) 7.00-9.00pm

Event Page & Register here

 

(Lead image courtesy LSE)

“Demystifying the New York State Bar” by Brooklyn Law School

One of the more common reasons that Indian law graduates, or rather law graduates from around the world, choose an LLM in an American law school is to be eligible to write the Bar examinations in the United States of America.

Brooklyn Law School

And of these examinations, the New York State Bar examination is one of the most popular among LLM students. There are multiple reasons for this, including eligibility norms, but that is not relevant for this post.

A few days ago, Julie Sculli from Brooklyn Law School, gave a short presentation on the NY Bar examination that I thought was quite insightful.  She has been kind enough to share the presentation, which I have uploaded below.

 

Image from Brooklyn Law School

First Person Accounts: Anubhav Tiwari (LLM in International Human Rights from Essex University)

Anubhav Dutt Tiwari on his LLM from Essex University

Anubhav Dutt Tiwari

Anubhav Dutt Tiwari graduated from NUJS in 2013, and worked for about a year  before enrolling for the LLM in International Human Rights Law from Essex University (Class of ’15). He is currently a Senior Research Associate a Jindal Global Law School (JGLS).

In this edition of First Person Accounts, Anubhav discusses the reasons behind his decision to study at Essex University, the state of Indian legal academy, and his advice for Indian law students interested in an LLM abroad.

(Edited excerpts)

At what point of time did you realise you wanted to do an LLM? Was it as an undergrad, or only after working?

Anubhav Tiwari: All my internships had been at corporate firms, and I got a PPO in my fifth year. So, I sort of stumbled into a law firm for a year. It was during this time that I realised I wanted to do an LLM primarily because I did not feel I was being challenged intellectually. I also thought that the LLM was a good way to change my field of practice.

How did you use or explain the Clasis work experience while applying for a degree in human rights? 

Anubhav Tiwari: I did explain the good aspects of working in a demanding corporate law firm environment and the takeaways of professionalism, in my motivation letter.

How did you go about course/university selection? Essex is known for its HR faculty, but were there any other courses that you looked at?

Anubhav Tiwari: I was sure I wanted to study further human rights, humanitarian law within PIL. Essex was a natural choice due to its reputed faculty and Human Rights Centre. Moreover, [former NUJS Registrar] Sarfaraz sir from NUJS had also done his LLM from there and he gave very good reviews of the faculty.

I had also applied and got through Leiden, though eventually the faculty profiles at Essex convinced me to go there. In fact, I had also gained admission at Queens Mary but decided against it because living in London would have been too expensive.

Did you apply for any sort of financial aid?

Anubhav Tiwari: I did not mainly due to the fact that I was late. I took a student loan.

At Essex, what were some of the big changes in the learning experience as, say, compared to your undergrad days? 

Anubhav Tiwari: Essex was quite different from NUJS – the entire orientation of lecturing and discussion was very different. We did not have examinations, instead we were expected to write publishable papers for ever subject taken. In the eight months I was there, my research style completely changed.

Moreover, the environment is conducive to studying more than in any university I have seen. I have been to Christ for a year, then NUJS and now Jindal and I have to say, UK universities have an environment which compels you to study!

The accessibility of professors and the empathy they have with the students was also very nice. Further, the faculty were actively using their professional experience from the field to give us perspectives. At the same time they were not forcing us to take a view, but instead forcing us to not take sides!

Looking back, anything you would have done differently? For example, would you have gone fresh after NUJS or do you think work experience is important?

In hindsight, I feel a bit of experience in human rights would have been better before taking up the LLM. Work experience, according to me, is definitely important before an LLM.

What was your cohort like (age, experience, regions)?

Essex is known for its diversity in terms of the students. My class had representation from almost all the continents, and was the perfect mix of diverse backgrounds and experience – extremely necessary for the study of human rights.

What got you to JGLS, and what are you working on at JGLS?

I am trying to find my space in academia as a field-based researcher bringing his experience to the classroom while teaching. My focus is on refugee rights, citizenship issues, etc. My style of researching is going to the field and collecting data before analyzing and bringing out the main themes.

JGLS gave me the space and freedom to do these and also encouraged me to take on ‘controversial’ and sensitive research – something I believe very few universities in India do. Right now I am the lead researcher with the Centre for Human Rights Studies at JGLS, I also teach Legal Methods to first-year students, and have other research projects with colleagues at Jindal Global University.

A PhD must be on the cards?

Yes, a PhD is the next step. I am in talks with UNSW Australia where I have found supervisors. The next step would to be finalise the scholarship.

Having studied in India and abroad, what do you think are some of the differences in law schools in the two regions? Also, how do you think Indian law schools can attract younger faculty and/or researchers like yourself? 

The difference is faculty! Even at NUJS, we remember the good faculty very well because they were few! And most of them were young.

I feel in order to attract young faculty – you need to give them freedom to research. And also incentives. Younger faculties want to research, teaching comes secondary, and law schools in India should recognize this. I also think that if NLU’s did away with the UGC NET requirement, you would have a lot more younger faculty applying.

Last question – any advice for Indian law graduates or law students looking to pursue a post-graduate degree? 

Be sure that you want to do this and also be mindful that a post-graduate is actually more relevant if you intend to get into academia.