First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued, or are currently pursuing, a post-graduate course (LLM or otherwise) from different schools across the world.
In this edition we speak with Mrudul Dadhich who completed a master’s in law from the Europa-Kolleg, University of Hamburg (Class of ’15). Currently an associate at Khaitan & Co, Mrudul completed his undergraduate law degree from RGNUL, Patiala (Class of ’14). In this FPA, he talks about the LLM experience, the pros of enrolling for an LLM right after your undergraduate and a whole lot more.
During what stage of your undergraduate course did you start considering an LLM? Did you consider working for a few years before embarking on an LLM?
I considered the option of pursuing an LLM towards the end of the third year of my undergraduate course. I started by shortlisting Universities and LLM courses in which I was interested. For shortlisting the Universities, I spoke to a few alumni, read blogs written by other laws students who had pursued their LLM from outside India, and also kept an eye out for scholarships that were on offer (offered by either the University or by other institutional sponsors and programs).
I was suggested by a few people to consider pursuing an LLM after gaining some work experience. However, after due consideration, I eventually decided that pursuing an LLM right after the undergraduate course could work better for me as it will give me a fair amount of international exposure.
Also, personally I am of the belief that it is better off to complete the basic education (yes, internationally an LLM is considered as part of the basic legal education) upfront as at that time you are in sync and touch with the requirements of a study programme, as the perspective and the motivation to complete educational tasks/assignments changes once a person starts working. In the hindsight, today after working for almost four years, I can say this with certainty that for me it turned out best to pursue the LLM prior to joining law as a profession.
“Personally I am of the belief that it is better off to complete the basic education upfront as at that time you are in sync and touch with the requirements of a study programme, as the perspective and the motivation to complete educational tasks/assignments changes once a person starts working.”
You have mentioned that you only applied for the BCL, and DAAD scholarship – how did you go about narrowing down your options to these two?
While selecting the possible options, I gave a lot of weightage to my interest in the courses offered and the total value addition that a particular program had to offer and by total value addition, I mean the benefits that I could harness apart from just the academic learnings. Frankly, an LLM does not overhaul your understanding of law that has been gained through the rigorous undergraduate curriculum, rather it supplements the learnings from the undergraduate program.
Considering that the Indian legal system is more akin to the UK legal system than the US legal system, I decided to apply only for European Universities. Once the location was narrowed down, applying for BCL from Oxford was a no brainer. As for DAAD, the decision was motivated by my interest in competition law and the overall value addition which the DAAD scholarship had to offer. While academically the course offered by Europa-Kolleg, University of Hamburg (part of the DAAD scholarship) involved more of a comparative study companies law and competition law, so it was interesting for me to study that. It was more of the other considerations which appealed me more – chance of learning a new language, curriculum involved practical modules too.
I was fortunate enough to get through both but the prospect of getting full scholarship for the LLM at Europa-Kolleg was more appealing and the clincher eventually.
How was the LLM experience? What were some of the biggest learnings made during your time there?
It was a terrific experience. I ticked all the boxes which I had imagined while deciding to pursue an LLM. By sheer luck, with the DAAD scholarship I eventually got more than I bargained for as in addition to picking up a bit of the German language, I also got a chance to work with the largest international firm (Baker McKenzie), visits to different functionary organs of the EU and the icing on the cake – meeting the German Chancellor, Ms. Angela Merkel.
For me the biggest learnings were in the form of exposure I got while studying and living there. Academically and professionally, the style of teaching, the different perspectives of students from different nationalities and legal systems, the interactions with the professors (most of whom were also working with esteemed law firms or courts or EU organs) were the key takeaways.
On the personal front, the confidence that I gained by realising that we are good enough to excel at global level and managing the chores of day to day life all by myself in a different environment and cultural set-up is something which I value greatly.
“For me the biggest learnings were in the form of exposure I got while studying and living there. Academically and professionally, the style of teaching, the different perspectives of students from different nationalities and legal systems, the interactions with the professors (most of whom were also working with esteemed law firms or courts or EU organs) were the key takeaways.”
You also worked at Baker & McKenzie’s anti-trust team – how was that experience? And was the internship easy to get?
The experience at Baker was fantastic. All team members were very helpful and they made sure that I got appropriate guidance. It was a very welcoming environment and a great learning experience. The working style of an international law firm and the exposure I got there has really helped me in my work experience post the LLM.
As part of the practice module of the curriculum, we were required to do a one-month internship at any organisation of our choice, it could have been a NGO, a company, a government organ or a law firm. With my background and interest, I tried to get an internship with the law firms.
The process for getting an internship is quite transparent, you write to the concerned partner/HR department (depending upon firm policy) at the firm. The application, if shortlisted, is followed by an interview and then the confirmation. I applied to quite a few firms and got interviews and confirmation from some of them. I chose Baker McKenzie as I was getting a chance to be associated with the anti-trust law team. While we were required to do only a month long internship, I ended up interning for almost three months.
One thing that I would like to share with respect to applying for internships is that it is always better off to apply well in advance.
Given your current profile, how has the LLM helped you further your career as a corporate lawyer?
As I said, the exposure that I got while studying there has been particularly helpful. The manner and approach for addressing any query or task that I learned from my stint at Baker McKenzie is something that I find useful in my career as a corporate lawyer.
Having some working knowledge of legal provisions of key European jurisdictions and a foreign language also gives an edge.
Lastly, any advice you would have for Indian law graduates looking to apply for a foreign LLM?
Be absolutely certain if you want to pursue an LLM. While deciding to pursue an LLM or not, be mindful of the fact that LLM should not be opted for considering the short term benefits or material gains like a coveted job, but the long term gains in form of the experience and exposure that one gains by pursuing it.
Also, one needs to consider the cost and financial implications of pursuing an LLM; thus, an LLM with a scholarship is best advised for people opting for it right after the undergraduate course.
“Also, one needs to consider the cost and financial implications of pursuing an LLM; thus, an LLM with a scholarship is best advised for people opting for it right after the undergraduate course.”
Once decided, start the preparations like selecting the courses and the University, collating the application materials such as the Statement of Purpose, references, language proficiency test scores, etc. early.