First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.
In this edition, Rachaita Saha shares her thoughts on an LL.M. at the College of Law in Florida State University. An alumni of the KIIT School of Law (Class of ’18), Rachaita discusses ways to shortlist the ideal law school, what got her to FSU, and a lot more.
When did you start the application process for the master’s? Did you consider working for a few years before applying?
I started my application around November 2017 for Fall 2018. But my research started at the end of my 4th year around the end of 2016. I wanted to complete my masters because of my interest to get into academics eventually. Another reason for me was I had the intention of completing my education at a stretch.
However, there is some impetus for working before LLM, but for me I wanted to finish my education before starting to work.
How did you go about selecting universities? And what got you to narrow down on Florida State?
For me choosing colleges was a lot of research. I first was stuck in the dichotomy between reputation of the college or the preference of the subject I wanted a masters in. So I listed down some schools in London and the US like FSU, Berkeley, Boston School of Law, NYU.
My shortlisting of schools was mostly on the subjects and reading reviews, watching YouTube videos of students who took a masters there. I got through some of the good schools but for me scholarship was a big thing. I got scholarship at Berkeley, Boston and FSU but fortunately FSU was offering a scholarship of almost 80% .
Moreover all the faculties of business law were Harvard and Yale graduates which motivated me to accept my offer at FSU.
Any advice on the application process, more specifically the personals statement and letters of recommendation?
It is very important to write a good statement. I had good help from my faculties, they helped me structure it in a way that portrays all the accolades in law school while also sounding humble at the same time. It is the statement that attracts the admission committee. So make sure it highlights every nice thing you have achieved in law school no matter how minuscule that might sound.
“It is the statement that attracts the admission committee. So make sure it highlights every nice thing you have achieved in law school no matter how minuscule that might sound.”
With regard to the recommendations, it is better to get it from professors or dignitaries who know you more than a year. For professors, it is good if they have taught you more than one course.
One of the main goals one should focus at is also their grade and co-curricular in law school. This strengthens one’s statement and is valued very high by the admission committee for scholarship.
Grades are very underrated in law school, and should never be taken casually by students
How has the LLM experience been thus far? If you could compare your undergraduate and post-graduate learnings, what have been some of the bigger differences between the two?
My LLM experience has been great! American law schools teach you how to think like a lawyer, not just the legal semantics of an issue but also discuss why parties acted the way they did. I majored in business law and in my classes we talked about various economic concepts behind certain decisions.
The prime difference is we had to be prepared for the class beforehand. Moreover, the exams are open book. It was quite overwhelming for me at the beginning , but it focused more on understanding the concepts than just memorizing the statutes.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who may be considering an LLM abroad?
I would advice all the students who want to have a LLM abroad , to focus on first what is the course he/she wants their masters in. After that is done, consider the applications like a job – research the schools, their faculty, read reviews etc. I would also urge to reach out to Indians or alumni who had LLM from the schools one is targeting.
The masters program would be really tedious but if one is ready to take in the grind, he/she will have a benefit a great deal out of it in his/her career.