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 (be it an LLM or otherwise) from different schools across the world.

In this edition, I speak with Abhinav Lohia who is a Director at Canam Investor Services in Chicago. Abhinav graduated with a law degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in 2007, and worked for nearly five years before enrolling for an LL.M. at George Washington University Law School.

After your undergrad law degree, you chose to join litigation and worked in Delhi for nearly five years. What prompted you to enrol for an LLM?  

I drafted a research paper in Law School in India on Brain Mapping and Narco Analysis. Due to lack of Indian precedents I researched U.S. Case laws. I was amazed at the speed at which the U.S. Judiciary functioned.

After spending nearly five years in Litigation I was frustrated with the lack of urgency with which Indian judiciary operates so I left.

How did you go about selecting law schools, and what got you to narrow down on GWU? 

At the time of selecting my University, I was primarily focussing on Intellectual Property Litigation at the High Court of Delhi. My primary focus was attending a Law School on the East Coast known for its I.P. Program.

The faculty at George Washington University School of Law had exceptional credentials. GWU also ranked 3rd that year for their LLM in I.P law.

What were some of the biggest learnings made during the LLM?

The L.L.M at GWU was a life changing experience. Our program was focused on not only the study of law but also the importance of networking. We were pushed to network with other law students and lawyers. This has helped me a lot with my business development skills.

“We were pushed to network with other law students and lawyers. This has helped me a lot with my business development skills.”

Also, my LLM class had 120 students from 48 countries, I was exposed to a lot of new cultures. My exposure to attorneys from around the world is definitely advantageous to my immigration practice.

What was the recruitment market for international LLM students when you graduated from GWU? Was it relatively easy to find employment post the LLM? 

It was very difficult to find a job. While law firms were open to hiring International Students, not many are inclined to sponsor a work visa. This reduces employment options for international students.

However, if someone is motivated enough, they will be able to find a firm willing hire them and sponsor the work visa.

You have built up quite a practice in immigration law – was this something you were contemplating while doing the LLM? 

Not at all, I wanted to be an I.P. attorney. It was lack of employment options that pushed me into joining an immigration law firm. However, when I joined an immigration law firm, I started focussing on investment immigration or EB5 Visas, it gave me an opportunity to use my Indian legal skills and also tap into the network of international attorneys I had built at George Washington University.

After just two months, I knew that I wanted to build a career in investment immigration. I really enjoyed representing EB5 Investors.

Given your work profile, you have a ring side view of immigration from India. Do you think Indian law grads can look at an LLM (or any other masters) as a stepping stone towards immigration? 

An LLM in the States is not just a course, it is an experience. It definitely adds value whether or not someone is able to immigrate to the United States. That said, it is definitely a foot in the door if someone wants to immigrate to the United States.

“An LLM in the States is not just a course, it is an experience. It definitely adds value whether or not someone is able to immigrate to the United States.”

Lastly, any advice you would have for Indian law graduates who are considering a master’s abroad? 

I highly recommend at least 3 years of work experience prior to pursuing an LLM. An LLM is more about critical thinking and application of law, something that comes with practice. I feel fresh graduates from Indian law schools will not be able to take full advantage of an LLM course.

End Notes

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