First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued a post-graduate course from different schools across the world.
In this edition of the FPA, we get talking with Anushka Arora who graduated with an LLM from the National University of Singapore (Class of ’18). Currently working in the chambers of Neeraj Grover, Anushka completed her law from Guru Gobind Singh Inderprastha University (Class of ’17). In this FPA, I get her to talk about enrolling for a master’s right after graduation, the learning experience at NUS, and a whole lot more.
At what stage of your undergraduate course did you start planning your LLM applications? Did you consider working a few years before enrolling for the course?
My planning process for applications only started in my final year-end semester.
No, I did not consider working before leaving for the master’s program as I did not wish to interrupt the flow of my curriculum.
How did you go about selecting where to apply? Apart from NUS, did you apply to any other schools?
As I wanted to pursue an LLM in IPR, I started to figure out which law university is the best for an LLM in IPR. Hence I spoke to various IPR advocates in India belonging to top tier firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. etc.
I also discussed the same with my undergraduate law professors from GGSIPU, USLLS including my Dean. After gaining feedback and consensus, I settled at the NUS as it turned out that NUS law school was one of the worlds best law University for IPR.
Thereafter, I also checked the NUS law university course module pages so as to have a general idea as to what subjects they offer and then compared the same with other law universities. It turned out that NUS offered very enterprising IPR modules as compared to other law universities such as entertainment law, biotechnology law, sports law etc.
“I also checked the NUS law university course module pages so as to have a general idea as to what subjects they offer and then compared the same with other law universities.”
Yes, apart from NUS, I applied to a few more law Universities, including LSE, UCL, Oxford and Cambridge.
Did you seek financial aid of any kind?
Yes, I did. I twice received the Directorate General Artillery Education Scholarship.
Any advice for future applicants on writing the statement of purpose, and getting letters of recommendation?
A well-written statement of purpose and letter of recommendations are the gateway to prestigious universities. Start the preparations for masters at least eight months prior to the date of leaving. Get a letter of recommendation from faculties (who are either the alumni of the university you are applying to or are well reputed) or from renowned legal personalities (if you have interned with them).
Do not get a letter of recommendation from someone who barely knows you and cannot vouch for you properly. As regards the statement of purpose is concerned, managing within limited word limit and describing your attributes along with purpose can be a cumbersome task, hence you would need to re-edit and rephrase you draft multiple times. A statement of purpose is not your bio, hence a word of caution here is that you need to identify as to what fits best under ‘why shall the university select you or how would the university help you in achieving your goal’.
“A statement of purpose is not your bio, hence a word of caution here is that you need to identify as to what fits best under ‘why shall the university select you or how would the university help you in achieving your goal’.”
As mentioned above, all these process and tasks of filling forms etc. takes a lot of time, hence, in order to avoid last moment glitches you need to prepare and start well in advance.
How was your LLM experience at NUS? What were some of the bigger differences, if any, in the learning experience between NUS and GGSIP University?
Sleepless nights, exams (6 hours long to 24 hours long), class presentations, moots, conferences, daily class grading’s, daily extensive readings for class, all in just roughly 10 months. I believe this was the main reason why I chose NUS from the options I had, as I wanted to train and push myself to limits I had never been to.
Pursuing the masters along with training in three different law offices in Singapore was not only too difficult to manage but required a lot of focus and presence of mind in order to balance work and leisure.
I really cannot compare institutions like GGSIPU, USLLS and NUS as both of these universities have their own uniqueness and quality. However, the teaching/learning process and methodologies used in India are entirely different from that of foreign institutions.
The education at NUS is a lot more of a professor to student interactive teaching rather than just a lecture style of teaching. The learning experience at NUS involved everyday class assessments, extensive readings, regular exams, various class participatory activities along with professors using props to elaborate upon topics, which not only made the teaching interactive but interesting at the same time.
“The learning experience at NUS involved everyday class assessments, extensive readings, regular exams, various class participatory activities along with professors using props to elaborate upon topics, which not only made the teaching interactive but interesting at the same time.”
Early days, but how do you find your LLM helping you as a litigation lawyer?
Knowledge- Confidence- Networking, to sum up. An LLM from a well-reputed institution gives you an edge over other employees as regards being entrusted cases to handle by your self, monetary wise and client handling.
What is your reading of the legal recruitment market in Singapore for international LLM graduates?
I wanted to work in Singapore, which is why I opted to pursue masters from the same. Being there for almost a year and working at three different law offices for six months, I realized that sadly the market does not entertain national or international lawyers. But this does not mean there are no chances at all.
The market is still welcoming arbitration lawyers (to an extent)/foreign lawyers, and to get employment opportunities one would have to invest a lot of time and money. Singaporean law firms, like most foreign jurisdictions, usually consider nationals over international candidates, and as the market is stagnant for Singapore nationals, getting a job can be tough.
“Singaporean law firms, like most foreign jurisdictions, usually consider nationals over international candidates, and as the market is stagnant for Singapore nationals, getting a job can be tough.”
Lastly, any advice for Indian law graduates who are looking to apply for a master’s course outside the country?
Yes, do not run after a master degree just for the sake of getting a master from abroad. Various universities (well reputed too) engulf huge sums of money without delivering quality education. Usually, students opt for such universities and waste their one precious year of their career, which does not take anyone far.
Hence, choose your university wisely, check which university has a good repute for a particular field of law, try and aim for the best universities.
“Hence, choose your university wisely, check which university has a good repute for a particular field of law, try and aim for the best universities.”
You can work for few years if you feel your curriculum vitae would not do justice to you at the moment. As for the rest, just have faith in yourself, work hard and you shall get what you desire.