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 FPA, Urvashi Jain talks about her LL.M. experience at the University of Georgia, where she enrolled in the year 2016. This was two years after she graduated with a B.A. LL.B. (Hons) degree from the University of Allahabad. At UGA, Urvashi was awarded the graduate assistantship, which not only means significant financial aid but also comes with a stipend.
Were you contemplating a master’s while still an undergraduate student? Or was this something you decided to do after working for a couple of years?
I applied for my master’s even before graduating with my five year integrated law degree, B.A.LL.B. (Hons.). So I was clear with my vision that I have to pursue my master’s and that too from abroad. UGA was the only university to which I applied. I got the admission in 2014, the year I graduated with my undergraduate degree.
But with no work experience, I could not bag any merit based scholarship. So, I litigated at the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad as an attorney for two years and then applied again to UGA for the LL.M.; this time hoping to bag a scholarship and I did.
How did you go about selecting where to apply, what were some of the resources you used, and what got you to finally narrow down on the University of Georgia?
UGA was my first and last choice. For me, it was like getting an LL.M. from UGA or from nowhere. The primary reason I would attribute to this choice would be the great ROI (return on investment) UGA has.
It is the first public university of United States and since 1785 it has been holding its place in the education industry. It is a public ivy institution located in a small but self sustained college town, Athens.
The other reason for pinning only UGA was to get family love, care, support and often times cooked food, as my elder sister was pursuing her Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology in Cognitive Science, Atlanta, which is only an hour and half minutes drive from Athens. I found times news ranking useful while ensuring that UGA is the one where I can invest for a promising future.
Any advice on how one ought to go about the application process? More specifically, on the written requirements and how early to start with the application itself?
Before giving any advice on that, one word of caution would be not to quit feeling overwhelmed. Preparing your application package is a hard task and sometimes overwhelming. It would be a good idea to start early in the process. By early I would mean, around May.
“Preparing your application package is a hard task and sometimes overwhelming. It would be a good idea to start early in the process. By early I would mean, around May.”
By the end of summer, ideally, the candidate should have a list of colleges ready. This would allow the candidate to leverage enough time constructing each component of the application carefully according to the demands of the respective colleges. The deadlines for the colleges generally start late November.
Being proactive and early in the application cycle is always good as it gives the opportunity to contest for the scholarships.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid of any kind?
Yes, I bagged the graduate assistantship which reduced my tuition fee and earned a modest stipend.
In the LL.M. video, you mention that the university offers help with internships, and career development – could you tell me a bit more about this?
UGA has a great career development office (CDO). Also, a unique feature which UGA provides is the Mentor-Mentee program, wherein each student is provided a peer mentor, a faculty mentor and a professional mentor along with full access and support of the CDO.
The CDO, while ensuring your resume cover letters are marketable, also tries to bring to the candidate or connects the candidate to the latter’s choice of industry or work. This is different from the concept of on-campus recruitment as happens in the Indian colleges. The CDO merely acts as a facilitator and would try earnestly to bridge the gap wherever possible but it will not bring the companies and persuade the candidate to sit for its interview.
“The Career Development Office, while ensuring your resume cover letters are marketable, also tries to bring to the candidate or connects the candidate to the latter’s choice of industry or work. This is different from the concept of on-campus recruitment as happens in the Indian colleges.”
Your own choice and discretion in approaching your dream companies/ offices are appreciated and respected by all means.
How was the LLM experience? Any highlights along the way?
In one word: amazing! It was a tough time for me as I was in grief of my father’s sudden demise due to a fatal road accident which happened just a few months before I made it to UGA. But my UGA family (yes, that’s what I call it) was very helpful and supportive all along.
I met great scholars during the 10 months I had on campus, everyone adding something new and meaningful to my life, be it academically, professionally or socially. The professors at UGA were just an email away. The curriculum was a little overwhelming (for me, being very different from what I had experienced in India) but the kind of life I had was unparalleled.
“I met great scholars during the 10 months I had on campus, everyone adding something new and meaningful to my life, be it academically, professionally or socially. The professors at UGA were just an email away. The curriculum was a little overwhelming but the kind of life I had was unparalleled.”
I presented research papers in international and national conferences. The opportunities were endless. Not a single day would go by without any activity being organized at the law school. Only the time was short and little burdened with the course work.
There are some who say that an LLM, international or otherwise, does not help the litigating lawyer – thoughts?
An experience always add on to your knowledge. In Indian scenario, it might be true that the recruiting companies do not give any weightage to your having an LL.M. degree because of the same myth/thought as mentioned above in the question.
But the reality is that, a candidate with a litigation background along with an LL.M. degree would definitely mark his presence in the court/firm/office. It’s not just about the degree. It’s the entire personality of a person that gets changed with an international exposure. A personality which is bound to fetch good for the firm, client etc.
“It’s not just about the degree. It’s the entire personality of a person that gets changed with an international exposure.”
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering an LLM abroad?
Anyone considering LL.M. should ensure that your undergraduate university is accredited from the NAAC else you might have to face problems with the bar exams in United States, if you plan on taking them post LL.M.
I’d be happy to help anyone with their personal doubts and queries. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.