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 get to speak with Krusha Bhatt who is currently enrolled for the LL.M. course at the University of East Anglia.
A graduate of the Auro University (Class of ’18), Krusha shares her reasons for choosing UEA, the LL.M. experience thus far, and her advice for Indian law graduates who are considering a foreign LL.M.
At what point during your undergraduate days did you start thinking about a master’s? Did you ever consider working for a few years before enrolling for a postgraduate course?
The first thought of doing a master’s degree clicked my mind during my third year when I was figuring out best suitable career after graduation for myself, I decided to be an academician.
I started looking at Indian universities at first. With a perennial love for Constitutional Law, my initial thoughts were doing a Comparative Constitutional Law master’s but then there were only 2-3 National Law Universities which offered this course and one of them was GNLU which is situated in my home town.
So, everything was pretty smooth until I was introduced to International Law in my fourth year. One of my professors motivated me to look for foreign universities as well and this is how I enlarged my sight and decided for UK specific countries because Indian law is almost in parallel with UK law.
However, I wasn’t ready to invest in a foreign degree, and that is why my idea was to work for a few years, and study further on my own. But I cannot thank my mom enough for always motivating and pushing me towards achieving the best. She convinced me to select the University I deem best for me and continue with my master’s.
How did you go about selecting universities, and where all did you apply to?
Selection of universities wasn’t really a challenging task for me because I had referred the Guardian and Times Higher ranking 2018, and selected the top 5 Universities in the UK. I had applied to University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, University of East Anglia, Queen Mary University. I had received offer letters from each of them, however I discarded QMUL because it is situated in Central London and was costing me almost ten more lakhs than the others.
One of the major reasons was also to not have distractions; living in small cities leave you with more time so that you can invest it in academics. I made a comparative analysis of the pros and cons of studying in QMUL and UEA, and the reason I picked UEA is answered in the next question.
What got you interested in this particular LLM at the University of East Anglia?
When I started reading more about the course structure and learning environment, the UEA fascinated me because they have a limited number of seats for each specialisation and offer a group coaching kind of arrangement to enhance class participation and interaction with the module leader, which I couldn’t find in any of the other Universities.
Also, I was very much interested in Competition Law since my under-graduate days, and UEA is very popular for this particular area. They also have wide variety of optional modules to pick from. So, with the combination of International Business Laws and Competition Law I was looking forward to study at the UEA.
“Also, I was very much interested in Competition Law since my under-graduate days, and UEA is very popular for this particular area. They also have wide variety of optional modules to pick from.”
Did you apply for financial aid of any kind?
As soon as I received offer letters, my first decision was to apply for the available scholarships but the University of East Anglia offered me ‘International Excellence” scholarship worth 5,000 GBP along with the offer letter itself.
So without thinking twice I selected the offer.
How has the LL.M. experience been thus far? What are some of the bigger differences, if any, between the learning experience at East Anglia and Auro University?
The experience so far is very different and challenging than Auro because when you go out of your country especially leaving your home town, things change completely. From living amongst 200+ nationalities, cooking food, buying groceries and doing everything on my own, living a totally independent life, moreover competing with students having accustomed to English being their first language is not easy coming.
“The experience so far is very different and challenging than Auro because when you go out of your country especially leaving your home town, things change completely.”
When you go to a foreign university it is not just the learning or teaching pedagogy that counts but all these factors which I mentioned above helps you grow and makes a substantial part of your degree. In my batch majority of the students are aged between 30-40, having work experience in the relevant fields so the practical knowledge they possess can never be matched without working in the field. This is my major drawback so far.
Any advice for how to go about writing the Statement of Purpose? And also choosing referees for Letters of Recommendation?
Your SoP should be crystal clear mentioning about who you are, where you come from, what have you done so far, what you intend to do in future, and most importantly why this particular university. Universities are interested in knowing you and your goals – this is the basis on which offer admissions.
“Your SoP should be crystal clear mentioning about who you are, where you come from, what have you done so far, what you intend to do in future, and most importantly why this particular university. “
The referees to your LOR should be your recent professors with whom you have worked closely or they know you as student since a very long time because writing just good things doesn’t interest as much as writing on real stories which reflect your potentialities and calibre.
Lastly, what is your reading of recruitments in the UK legal market, especially for international LLMs?
For an international student, the UK legal market is not easy to enter unless one is ready to take further steps like writing QLTS (Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme) which means if you are a qualified lawyer from a common law jurisdiction, you can convert your eligibility to practice in UK by writing an exam.
Or if one is ready to further take up LPC (Legal Practice Course) that is a one year course after having finished your LL.M in order to appear for 2-stage exam to become a solicitor in England and Wales, this course can lead you to 2 years of training contract with law firms followed by recruitment in most cases if passed successfully.
Apart from these two choices you have to work day and night in making your applications for vacation schemes, winter or summer internships, work placement. So if you are considering UK for your LL.M, you be mentally prepared about these hurdles.