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.
Here, Vikrant Jafa discusses his LL.M. experience at the University of Southampton where he opted for a specialised degree in maritime law. A Partner at the Delhi law firm, Jafa & Javali, Vikrant also happens to have studied his law from the UK, with a B.A. (Law) from the University of Sussex.
I know it has been quite a while, but what got you to study law at Sussex? Was the plan to practice in the UK, or you had always planned on coming back to India?
I was introduced to Sussex by a friend whose son had studied there previously. However, at that time, Sussex did not recognise my ISC. Therefore, I had to do my A Levels (including law), in order to qualify to study law at Sussex. My intention was always to come back to India to practice law. Having said this, I did work with a couple of UK law firms to gain practical experience, before returning to India.
And after the LLB, you chose to do a specialised LLM at Southhampton – what prompted this decision?
After graduating, I was interested in shipping law, and Southampton had one of the best maritime law schools in the world, at that time.
Soon after your LLM, you shifted to India where you enrolled as a lawyer. Back then, was it easy to get enrolled with a foreign law degree? Any “conversion” tests/procedures that you had to take?
When I returned to India, Sussex was not recognized, but Southampton was by the Bar Council. However, due to my case, Sussex is also recognised by the Bar Council now.
Looking back, what have been some of the greatest benefits of the LLB and then the LLM to your current practice?
I have utilised my LLB and LLM extensively in my practice. I have also had the good fortune to work alongside with some of my colleagues from law school. My specialization in marine law has also given me an edge, in that I would be one of the few qualified shipping lawyers in Delhi.
However, I would advise today’s law graduate to first qualify to practice in India, before going abroad to pursue post graduate studies.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who may be considering an LLM abroad?
I would advise any Indian law graduate considering an LLM abroad to certainly go for it, as it can have a tremendous positive impact both in terms of exposure, job opportunities and for networking purposes.