As most readers know by now, 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.

The FPA (International) is meant to broaden this scope somewhat, getting non-Indian law graduates to discuss their LL.M. experiences in different law schools from across the world. The idea behind the FPA(I) interviews is to help the Indian law graduate better understand her potential cohort, and also expand the LL.M. conversation in general.

In the first FPA(I) interview, I get Nur Ben-Hamida (LLM, Glasgow University) to talk about her LL.M. experience, the difference between the undergraduate and post-graduate study of law, working in the UK, and a whole lot more.

(Edited excerpts)

With a law degree already in hand, what prompted you to enrol for a master’s course? And why the decision to enrol right after your undergraduate?

I wanted to do a Master’s specifically to gain more expertise in the area I wish to specialise in, which is Intellectual Property Law specifically regarding copyright and publishing.

The choice to do so right after completing my undergraduate degree was because the legal industry is incredibly saturated, and especially so for niche practice areas. I wanted to continue my studies and gain an extra level of experience and knowledge that would make me a competitor in today’s market.

How did you go about selecting where to pursue the LLM, and why narrow down on Glasgow?

Firstly, I had to consider what subjects and topics I would want to pursue. Intellectual Property at the time of my application was not a common Master’s subject, so it narrowed my choices regardless.

I chose Glasgow because the School of Law is well known for excellence, both in teaching and research. It is also the home of CREATe which is a hub of Intellectual Property Law research, conferences and so on. Glasgow is also a very beautiful city, with an incredible campus, full of art and culture that I wanted to experience.

“I chose Glasgow because the School of Law is well known for excellence, both in teaching and research. It is also the home of CREATe which is a hub of Intellectual Property Law research, conferences and so on. “

Any advice on the application process? More specifically, the written requirements.

The process is fairly straightforward for Glasgow, it didn’t take too long to fill out the forms. The written requirement for the LLM at the University of Glasgow was very simple.

I would advise anyone to applying to research the programme they hope to enrol in, and discuss why they would be a good fit for it. Choosing the modules can be difficult and stressful, especially if you’re not sure what they entail exactly. The best thing is to see if you can contact any alumni and hear their thoughts on the modules they took. You are also allowed to take modules outside of your specialisation, for instance, I took Corporate Social Responsibility, which is a Corporate Law (LLM) module, because it sounded very interesting and as I had done some Intellectual Property in my LLB and wanted to be well rounded.

Glasgow required references, which is something you must consider before you apply- as applications open in the summer when your university tutors may be away. Thankfully, my tutors are fantastic and were very quick to provide references (which, I admit, made me a shed a tear as they were very complimentary) but I am aware not everyone was this lucky. Make sure to request references early to avoid the last minute stress of trying to find anyone vaguely associated with your undergraduate to write something about you!

Also, I advise to proof read! First impressions count, especially doing an LLM at Glasgow where you will meet those in charge of admissions because they deal with allocating your dissertation tutors, helping with any queries, and assignment hand-in!

“First impressions count, especially doing an LLM at Glasgow where you will meet those in charge of admissions because they deal with allocating your dissertation tutors, helping with any queries, and assignment hand-in!”

Did you seek financial aid of any kind?

While Glasgow is very typical with its fees, I did seek financial aid through Student Loans Company. I also paid the fees in instalments which makes it much more doable and accessible, however they do require a large upfront fee also.

There are also very many scholarships available that I recommend to look into, and monetary prizes from partners of the law school for things such as ‘Best Dissertation’.

Apart from the length of the courses, what were some of the bigger differences between the LLB and the LLM courses?

The difference is (pauses) everyone is as interested in the subject as you are! The classes are smaller, so it feels more personal. The classes are also more tailored to you learning each aspect of the subject in more depth than perhaps you would at LLB. It can be mind boggling, but it is fascinating how much detail you get taught and get to explore!

The LL.M. is also much more self-guided than the LLB, many of the essays were self-titled, as in, you as in the individual get to pick a topic in law and pose your research and theories and legal analysis on it.

“The LL.M. is also much more self-guided than the LLB, many of the essays were self-titled, as in, you as in the individual get to pick a topic in law and pose your research and theories and legal analysis on it.”

I got to write essays on various topics- celebrities, graffiti, fashion, creative commons, internet culture and the law, branding, anything that took my fancy! This is really helpful as you can tailor your essays to the career you would like to go into- I was interested in the publishing industry, and so I focussed my essays on branding, fandom, internet piracy, rights management, compliance, e-commerce and so on.

There is also much more reading. I thought there was a lot of reading for the LLB, but imagine three years’ worth of reading in one, and then add on all the extra ‘recommended’ reading! (advice: always try and do the extra recommended reading- the tutors WILL refer to it!)

I am most interested in your current role – could you share a few lines on what your position at Nosy Crow involves? And how do you find yourself relying on the LLM learnings in your current position?

My position at Nosy Crow is so exciting and varied! I mainly draft contracts- Authors, Illustrators and Foreign Rights contracts which are always keeping me on my toes. As well as that, I help advise any way I can regarding any Intellectual Property issues that come up including permission requests, trademarks, and so on.

The publishing industry is perfect for someone who has studied law, especially Intellectual Property Law, as almost every aspect of publishing is touched in some way by Intellectual Property and governed by law. The in-depth teaching and global scale of my LLM has made feel that I have a strong enough knowledge base to feel safe in my decisions, and every module I chose to undertake at LLM level has been applicable to my role so far.

“The publishing industry is perfect for someone who has studied law, especially Intellectual Property Law, as almost every aspect of publishing is touched in some way by Intellectual Property and governed by law.”

The role has taught me things also, which is what you want from a job when you leave academia. It is challenging and has allowed me to put theory into practice, which is something you can only get from experience. Nosy Crow is a fantastic, optimistic, and modern place to work and I am excited to use more and more of my LLM learnings to help the company grow, and to be part of that growth.

Lastly, any advice for law graduates who are considering an LLM, in the UK or otherwise?

I fully recommend going for an LLM! Not only does it assist you in honing in on a specialism, you gain more knowledge than you would think possible, meet interesting people (a lot of people doing LLM’s in Glasgow are from all around the world, of all ages, of many different and exciting professions and backgrounds!), have more insight into the legal landscape as you will be a PART of it.

I would advise to research early, know ahead of time what you would like to do and where you want to do in regards to the classes. I also recommend to look at the modules rather than university ratings or the name. There are some universities I thought I would have preferred to go to, but they didn’t offer the modules I thought would be useful for my future career. This is more important in an industry.

“Look at the modules rather than university ratings or the name. There are some universities I thought I would have preferred to go to, but they didn’t offer the modules I thought would be useful for my future career. This is more important in an industry.”

For most LLM’s, you will need a minimum of a 2.1 degree, so if you’re thinking about pursuing one, try and achieve this as a minimum, but if you’re hoping to specialise in an area (i.e. Intellectual Property), it would be favourable to score the top grade especially if you hope to secure a scholarship or grants, funding, or move forward with a PHD.

Network! It is never too early to start meeting industry greats, and you will be expected to go to conferences and network throughout your LLM. I started appearing in conferences on behalf of my tutors in undergraduate, which I found incredibly helpful, and during my LLM they held workshops or conferences and I was also present there, and I was invited  to present my Master’s dissertation topic at a New IP Lawyers conference in the summer due to my presence at such conferences in the past, which was an incredible experience.

Forge good relationships with your tutors. Not only will they provide you with references, but you never know- you could become colleagues on day, or you may cite their work in your dissertation, ask you to assist in research, send you to conferences, all things to bolster your CV!

Write, and write, and write- and research! Staying up to date in your own time between semesters is important. Especially if you can do this on a global scale! Your tutors at LLM will be up to date, and will make references to ongoing litigation and controversy often. Researching and reading blog posts, then writing your own analysis on the topic in your chosen area of law is also important as it will train you for the severe hand cramp of constant typing that is the LLM. I had one month during the LLM  where I had to write three 10,000 word essays!

“Write, and write, and write- and research! Staying up to date in your own time between semesters is important. Especially if you can do this on a global scale! Your tutors at LLM will be up to date, and will make references to ongoing litigation and controversy often.”

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