First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of 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, we speak with Ranesh Anand, a graduate of the National University of Study and Research in Law (Class of ’16). Ranesh has recently completed an LL.M. from the University of Sydney, and in this FPA, he shares his experiences as an LLM candidate from India, studying constitutional law and legal philosophy, and a whole lot more.
Did you plan on doing an LLM right after your graduation? What made you wait a year before enrolling?
For the LLM, I had already planned it while I was in my under-graduation; more specifically I started planning and researching in my 8th semester and I had applied in October 2015 for the July session at University of Sydney. At that time I was in my 9th semester. Just to clarify University of Sydney takes admissions twice a year, first one is March session and second is the July session.
I had applied for the July session as I was supposed to complete my under graduation in June 2016. But the publication of final results, which the University of Sydney asked for, took some time. Fortunately I did get through the admission process and if I recall correctly, it was in September 2016 that I was given an Unconditional offer for the admission for the March 2017 session.
But I deferred my admission for a year because of the financial constraints and by the time I was offered admission all the scholarships were filled up; so I thought taking chance of applying for scholarships in a year.
How did you go about selecting where to apply, and what made you narrow down on the University of Sydney?
I had Constitutional Law (Hons.) in my under-graduation, so it was very much clear in my mind that if I am going pursue higher studies, I will take subjects in which I could study the Philosophy and has to be related to the Constitutional Law. Hence, when I was researching for the Universities, I went through their courses and if I liked the courses of if I found them to be of my aptitude then only I short-listed that University.
“Hence, when I was researching for the Universities, I went through their courses and if I liked the courses of if I found them to be of my aptitude then only I short-listed that University.”
Secondly, because of my financial constraints I had to leave the US [law schools] aside because they are costly. Other places where I applied were in the UK and Netherlands (Leiden University) because of their unique course in Cyber Law. Now the choice for Sydney was because of the course they offered. I applied for Masters in Administrative Law and Public Policy.
If Constitutional Law is a tree then Administrative Law is its most fruit-laden branch. I am also very much interested in Politics and Politics Studies, so when I found a course which has integrated Public Policy and Administrative Law, I had to apply.
Any advice on how to go about the application process – time management, written requirements etc?
I sincerely believe I do not know what advice I can give to others. But I will tell you my story, if someone finds any relevance they can use it as advice.
When I started my research, I found that two things are of the utmost importance. The Statement of Purpose and Recommendations. Another important factor is your resume but you cannot do too much with this. For e.g. I was good in theatre and had been awarded at school level and appreciated even in the college. When it came to put this detail in my resume, I just wrote it under the heading of hobbies that I like theatre and nothing much because university is looking for academic achievements and not specifically extra-curricular achievement; although I must remind that they have importance in the sense that the university looks into the personality of the student also.
Therefore, do mention such things but don’t give emphasis. Next important thing is your Statement of Purpose. I would only say that try to be as honest as you can be; do not exaggerate, do not try to paint yourself in something which you are not. Just the truth because they are experts and they know when you are faking. So I can tell that if somebody reads my SOP, They will get the complete picture of what and who I am as a person, and as a student. That was my funda which worked in two from where I did get the offer and not in another from where I could not succeed. Also I tried my best to answer the question as to why I should be selected for the course I am applying. Lastly, about the recommendations try to make good relations with your professors while you are doing your under-graduation and the people you intern under.
Most universities take admission on first come basis so be prepared with everything in advance.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid of any kind?
I applied to almost 2-3 scholarships and I got aid from an education Trust in India itself and I took 35% as education Loan from the Bank in India. I would add that it is not necessary that you will get scholarship just because you have been offered admission.
How was the LLM experience? What were some of the highlights along the way?
I would say this LLM has broadened my thinking base and opened new avenues to look into any issue very differently. In all my subjects I had to write essays as the final exam and when you have to write an essay of a standard of post-graduate scholarship you need to study in depth. That’s the first major experience.
I can say that not only this has helped me in learning but also changed me as a person. The motto of University of Sydney is “Let’s Unlearn”. So the courses were designed in ways where you evolve as a person.
“The motto of University of Sydney is “Let’s Unlearn”. So the courses were designed in ways where you evolve as a person”
Secondly the benefit of group discussion with multi-cultural students has its own impact on your life. Lastly in terms of education I was fortunate to be taught by a Barrister, A policy expert who worked in the Obama Administration, a policy advisor to the then PM Tony Blair, and an EX-MP of Australia. These gave me the opportunity to learn from the real life experiences.
Apart from that I had the opportunity to work with Australia for UNHCR, which made me meet and interact local people, so it was nice experience. If you get the chance work part-time because that to helps you in growing as a person.
I did feel lonely sometimes because when it’s not your home it is not always easy to adjust. There were times when I just wanted to book flight back home and there were times when I never wanted to return.
“I did feel lonely sometimes because when it’s not your home it is not always easy to adjust. There were times when I just wanted to book flight back home and there were times when I never wanted to return.”
What is your reading of the Australian legal market when it comes to recruiting international LLM students?
Before I answer this, I think it is necessary to tell you that I never went to Australia with a mind-set that I have to get a job there. Therefore, I never looked very seriously for the corporate jobs. But , I did my research and met lawyers, and I learnt that Indians have to study few under-graduate subjects to be eligible to get a job in New South Wales.
These courses can be done in the university or through other different sources; Legal Profession Board of NSW conducts such courses. I learnt that even the solicitors join law firms which conduct cases unlike our country where you directly join the court under a lawyer and begin your practice.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is looking to pursue a master’s course abroad?
Look for the courses because at PG level it’s not the university in whole but the course which you are looking for which matters. Next, try to mix with as many as people you can because once you are out of your comfortable zone it is to learn new things which you cannot do by sitting at home.